Monday, July 2, 2012

A Confluence of Random Things

Confluence of the rivers Negro and Uruguayo, Uruguay, SA
After a long break from my WIP, I was ready to get back to the world of FIND ME. But I was a little trepidatious, too. I mean, I left our heroine and a girl she just met in the girl's bathroom. One girl was putting on elaborate make up, the other was watching her, feeling out of her element. I needed to get back inside my character's heads to pick up the thread that brought me to the bathroom in the first place.

I went back a couple of paras and found out that I'd missed an opportunity to fill out the story and the characters. I do this often, 'under-write' particularly in a first draft. I like to sketch and then fill in richer details later. Anyway, while I was diving into this section to expand it, I opened up a page on my browser.

Now, a note on distractions. My husband can stay up late into the wee hours googling all manner of nonsense, like, "What was the name of that chick that used to be on MTV News? Tabitha something?*" and so on. I'm not like that. I'm not saying I don't waste time on the internet, I do. But I have a limit to how much web surfing I can do before I get bored. For me, I can open up a page on salon or slate or WWD and read a random bit of news that interests me and, before more than 15 min has passed, be back at my WIP.

Like the difference between people who must work with music and those who can't (I fall into the former category, which makes sense) I need a modicum of distraction to spark ideas. I can't work in a vacuum. I don't recommend this for everyone, but distraction in small doses can be an engine of ideas. And if it's not a web page, it might be a spot of gardening, a walk around the block, laundry folding or watching your neighbor's kid try to parallel park. As long as it doesn't keep you away from your work, distraction is good.

Back to my confluence of random things. In my WIP, I have a girl who we have just been introduced to. I know what she's got to do, but I don't know how she'd present herself to my MC. Mulling this over, I click open a page on Safari and head over to an article about a Balenciaga fragrance that's launching soon. It catches my eye because my grandmother was a seamstress at Balenciaga before the Spanish Civil war. I also worked in the beauty industry and visited many fragrance houses. I wondered who created the new Balenciaga fragrance. I wondered if I would know the Nose. I thought about how a girl I used to work with became a Nose and was sent to France for two years, and how she earned an associate chemistry degree - all in her quest to become a perfumer (or a Nose, as it's called.) Then I realized that my secondary character already had a deep interest in chemistry - mostly because later she will need to blow things up. Wouldn't it be awesome if she wanted to be a Nose?

Yes, yes it would.  That's the direction I'm haring off to. I like it and it dovetails neatly with what I'm already writing (by the seat of my pants.)

I believe in the confluence of random things. I believe in 'medicinal' distractions. But that's just what works for me. What distractions actually help you write better?

*Tabitha Soren was indeed part of MTV News in the 1990's


  1. I need to have music when I write. Instrumentals mostly. Anything with lyrics is too distracting, but good instrumental music allows me to sink into the writing. I have so many soundtracks downloaded, I can build up a playlist for just about any story I care to write.

    Web surfing however, is a real time waster for me. I can get stuck watching videos for hours and lose all track of time.

    1. Stephanie - that is JUST like my husband. But it's worse with him. He just starts looking up people he used to know, bands he used to like - where are they now kind of stuff. I just lose interest so easily. But I'm with you on the music. I've said it before, music is a propulsive force for me. I feel more productive listening to music while writing then when it's quiet. BUT while revising - no music. weird, no?

  2. Photos - when I'm brainstorming I keep a file of possible real people that would fit my character. Also settings. I just watched you-tube videos for hours to get the details right for the inside of a very specific type of artist studio. Actually you-tube videos are great. You can find just about everything!

    1. Hey Jaye
      do you use Pinterest? I started to but am lame about figuring out how to use it (I am lame at a lot of things.) I really like your idea of using photos, but I'm afraid of 'boxing' myself in to one look. I think I'm probably over thinking it. Youtube is a great idea generator - as well as a research tool.


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