The Pressure is Building

Remember the Police song Too Much Information?

“Too much information running through my brain
Too much information driving me insane”

That, in a nutshell (pun intended) is the inside of my head.

But it’s not information. It’s stories, plots, characters, dialogue, action scenes, plot twists…ideas for stories I want to write.

All of you who are writers are nodding your heads in sympathy. All of you who don’t write are thinking, “Well, why don’t you just write them? Problem solved!”

For anyone who hasn’t talked to me for longer than five minutes in the past two years, my current WIP (work in progress) is a vampire novel.

Save me the heavy sighs. My vampire doesn’t sparkle in the sunlight like a piece of fool’s gold. My vampire has humanity problems–has he got too much or not enough?–and his best friend is a werewolf. They’re both attracted to a woman who doesn’t want to be a vampire OR a werewolf, but might end up being both. Or being dead.

Did I mention it’s funny? Twice now I’ve tried to write serious stories, one mystery and one postapocalyptic SF, with no humor. With the mystery it spiraled into misery until I was ready to drive off a cliff, and the SF got so bad that I had to lock myself in the bathroom to cry. I take that as a sign I shouldn’t try to repress my humor. In this psyche, laughter equals sanity.

But my head is still going to explode.

The vampire novel is about to undergo it’s final (ish) revision. I hope. Which will make it sellable in the vampire-sodden market. I hope.

But I still want to write the mystery. I’ve got the who, the why, the how. I’ve got red herrings. I’ve got some biting social commentary. I’ve got clues, and amateur and unwilling sleuth, charming children to complicate matters and a love interest.

The post-apocalyptic novel? Giving in to popular demand (and perhaps a bit of common sense), it won’t be a black comedy about a troop of girls caught camping when the Big One happens, from the point of view of their troop leader. No, it’s morphing into a YA novel, written from the girls’ point of view. But please don’t call it Girl Scouts of the Apocalypse, because I’m a Girl Scout leader and I would prefer it if the national organization didn’t have reason to sue my mom jeans off for using the phrase “Girl Scouts.”

Then there’s a fantasy novel that I’m not talking about, except to compare it to The Time Travelers Wife, which it is nothing like. Would that make it soft fantasy? Literary fantasy? I don’t know what to call it, but at odd moments during the day (sitting at stoplights, folding laundry) great huge scenes of it unspool in my head. So I have to write it or give up any pretensions at sanity.

The vampire novel? Intended to be the first in a series. I already know how the next book starts.

Then there’s the magical realism novel (think Angela Carter or Alice Hoffman) story about a woman whose past is getting ready to ambush her. This one has the vaguest plotline, in my mind, but I still have random scenes popping into my head that I think would be perfect.

And buried in the recesses of my backbrain (and a corner under my desk) is a fantasy novel, my first novel, that just might be worth hauling out and revising one of these days. Like when I clone myself three or four times and run out of other ideas to write and laundry to do.

The problem is this: I’m a linear writer. I generally work on one project at a time, and I write from start to finish. I can’t write scenes if I don’t have any idea where they’ll go. My brain just doesn’t bend that way. I have to change this and find a way to work on more than one project at a time. Or my brain will explode.

As an experiment with this blog, I have two questions to ask my readers. You can answer either, neither or both.

How do you work on two brain-sucking (in a good way) projects at the same time?

If you need to call an organization of girls something besides Girl Scouts, what would you call them?

If I get more than 25 responses, total, I will award a prize for the best one. “Best” being totally subjective, of course. I don’t always value practicality over humor.

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12 Comments

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12 responses to “The Pressure is Building

  1. Sue

    Hahahaha! Like I could work on two projects at once. I can’t walk and chew gum. I somehow imagine you with a notebook open, jotting down ideas on one side for one book and the other side for a different book. Good luck.
    Girl Scouts . . . I’ll get back to ya.

  2. gr

    Why did you ask me? I’ve never understood how you can read more than one book at a time. That’s freaky.

  3. Brandi B.

    Ok..so I’m about to be practical with the first question. What about getting a nice new tote or briefcase for your fantasy novel? That way it’s totally separate,stored away nicely until you are ready to work on it. So when you have a great plot or scene you can pull out the tote…perhaps go to a different part of your house or a coffee shop and work on it? You may need a change of scenery for working on separate novels..just might help keep the brain focused on one story at a time. ๐Ÿ™‚

    As for the Girl Scouts…hmmmm You could call them “Bakers Dozen” lol I always think of cookies when I think of the Girl Scouts. ๐Ÿ™‚ Just a thought.

    Am loving the blog!! And can’t wait to read your vampire novel!! Can I buy a signed copy after its finished? ๐Ÿ˜‰

  4. gr

    {posting just to see my time stamp – it is currently 11:02am Mountain Standard Time}

  5. How to work on two brain-sucking projects at a time: schedule. X gets M/W/F, Y gets T/TH/S/SU. Or whatever schedule happens to float your boat. When I was doing one chapter a day of my last book, I finished that chapter, then worked on other projects (whatever happened to be on the plate that day).

    Girl Scout alt names:
    Green Sprouts
    Cookie Patrol
    Green-and-Tans

  6. Hi MB,
    I’m serial like you–one project at a time. I can have one in production and do edit passes on it while I’m writing another, but I can only write one at a time.

    As for the alternate names for Girl Scouts/Guides or Campfire Girls, how about the following?

    Green Gals (with an environmental/nature focus)
    Daring Damsels
    Feisty Females
    Girls of Nature
    Gal Sleuths (if you want them to do some investigating)
    Buxom Beacons…
    Okay, I’m out of here! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  7. Vic Cruikshank

    Compartmentalization. Just like leaving work at work and not taking it home. I generally have several books going at once–reading-wise–but I also try writing several things at one time. It can be like meditation in that you must focus and clear your mind. Sometimes I just get tired of the same characters and switching to something else helps me return with fresh eyes and a clean slate.
    As for the scouts, how about Danger Girls? Woodland Girls? Lookout Lasses? The Outrider Girls? Trailblazers? Recon Girls? just a few to ponder.

  8. Ian

    I just switch from one project to another. Right now I’m heavily involved in four different projects: revising one novel, writing another, coauthoring a third, and producing a daily webcomic. The coauthoring part stays in the background until my partner finishes a section and sends it to me. Then that becomes my priority project until I finish my section. The webcomic gets worked on about every second or third weekend. Revising is something I do late at night or early in the morning. The writing of the other novel I tend to do in fits and starts during the course of my workday.

    I tend to keep whatever projects aren’t actively being worked upon “idling” in the back of my mind. Often, I will work out a problem I’m having in one without consciously having to think about it through this process.

    How about calling them the Oakley Girls (after Annie Oakley)?

  9. I cannot add anything to the discussion except to say that I think it’s very funny that the Google add below your blog is for bipolar disorder! Huh!!

    How appropriate…sorry, MB!

    (I cannot wait to read what you decide)

  10. Amy

    If you know that your strength is in sticking with one project at a time, then why don’t you? This is not to say you can’t jot down random thoughts for future stories as they pop up, but just don’t get sucked in if the ADD approach is making you feel unfocused. This is also helpful for someone (me) who is working toward not being late for things. Life is so distracting!

    Girl Scout alternatives… Buxom Beacons? I’m still laughing… Good one, Beth. How about Sullen Teenage Girls Who Don’t Want To Do Anything That Involves Work? Well, that only applies to some, and certainly not your kids. Maybe you should stick with suggestions given by your writer friends, preferably ones who haven’t ever camped with teen girls. ๐Ÿ™‚

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