When Your Story Takes Over Your Life

Batik Art In My Wild River…!!! :)

Image:Denis Collette via Compfight


(Please note: 1 correction on Oct. 2, 2013, Tom Clancy was replaced with the originally intended John Grisham reference. Nothing about Tom Clancy was ever 2-dimensional and I mourn his pacing with so many others. The author who knew too much but never said a word when it came to National Security. I have always had the utmost respect for him and his “great yarns”. May he rest in piece in the library in the sky.)

As many writers will understand, I have been working on my book for close to two years. The idea came to me out of the blue, like a flash; complete and perfect.(Or so I thought.) It was actually a tweet. I kid you not. I am deadly serious. It is still the same idea, with research behind it and still more to go, days stretching upon weeks of writing, character studies, outlining, etc. etc. The one problem is that it involved an existing company. All of the authors and lawyers that I discussed this with at, say, Quora, said (not knowing the company) that it was only going to lead to trouble, possible lawsuits and then there was the argument that the company would go out of business and once you get to publishing, then where would you be? Well, they didn’t know the company and there is no way this business is going under. It also involves something I could never dream would be very timely, though it is an evergreen subject. As another author did recently, I just made a dummy corporation. The government institutions will remain the same.

If I was not tied up mind and soul to this book, I could have written five and published them already, if I were to go the self publishing route. Quite seriously. I have a ton of ideas. But this book had me in its grasp and would not let me do anything else. I could have written 15 or 20 since I started studying the craft seriously


Beyond the novel itself, there is a problem…my wonderful protagonist morphed into some kind of…diva.

She will not leave me alone. She is always there. A woman of few words (yeah, I know, I sent her to dialogue therapy) but a strong, strong will.

My main character has gone through four major inner conflicts since her inception. I mean DSM Manual type inner conflicts. She has not been happy with any of them and secured her own counsel to negotiate. You know the type, two dimensional, straight out of a John Grisham novel. In the documents, the words “defamation of character” were used.The irony did not escape my legal team and me and, over pints at the closest pub, we all had a good laugh. The briefs were taken to deliberations, and after editing the print-out of the testimony, we settled on one that we are both “happy” about. She stuck me with the legal bills. The wench.

Then she got an attitude after all of the serious character interviews we did. Fully fleshed out now, she was in need of sustenance. She demanded it in the form of bottled water (specified bottler written in a contract to be signed by me that I found in my folder one morning). All food was to be served on my fine china and only green M&Ms were allowed. She is such a cliche!

I finally said, “Go away. Just leave me alone. Don’t wake me up at night. Don’t invade my conversations. Stop popping up when I’m reading the news. Leave me alone. ” If it wasn’t based on a real company then I would have finished it and gone on. But I can’t shake it. It’s like a bad bug. You know the old saying that the book picks the author? Or conversely, that there is a book that an author is meant to write? If that is truly the case, I curse the Fates.

I won’t even get into the other characters and the fiascos they’ve created.

Then one day, I thought to myself, “That’s it. I’m throwing that novel out. I won’t waste my time on it anymore.” I started looking through my card file of novel ideas. I set on one and began making notes. I was then turned away to do a chore. Sometime along the length of that chore, a huge solution unfolded around the structure of the novel.This unfolded over the span of two days. The problems I saw in the manuscript were gone, replaced by solutions for the overall slant of the MS. It’s’ like it took all of my critiques and came up with an updated manuscript. I had kicked this MS to the curb, and yet it came back to me better than ever.

We wonder if our characters dream, satirically. This was an author’s dream. I wanted it to go on until I could see the final page. Perfectly edited, formatted and ready with the most beautiful cover art one could image.

I am now typing away happily, and my angel turned diva is now, thankfully, back in line. I would say it was the adolescent phase of her growth.

Have you had a manuscript that would not leave you alone? What have you done about it? Tell me in the comments.

2 thoughts on “When Your Story Takes Over Your Life

  1. Hi Elisabeth!

    So great to see you here. I am sure your editor 1) has heard those things before and probably expects them, frankly and 2) knows you and would be happy to do anything that you ask. You are, to a degree, on the same playing field.

    Thank you so much for the comment. I’m glad this helped you!

  2. So fun! I write short nonfiction, but the whole kick-it-to-the-curb method has worked for me too. Though it’s a little embarrassing to email my editor a day or two later and say “I have a GREAT new version. This is the last one. No, really!”

Any thoughts on this? What is your opinion?