n3m3sis43: ((FMAB) Huuuughes and Winryyyy)
The Voice in my Head
(inspired by Dr. Seuss's The Cat in the Hat)

The words would not flow.
It was too hard to write.
So I stared at the screen
all day long and all night.

I messaged Alicia.
We chatted a bit.
And I said, "How I wish
all my writing weren't shit!"

My muse was away
and would not come to call.
So I wasted my day.
I wrote nothing at all.

So all I could do was to
And I did not like it.
Not one little bit.

Then I said, "What the fuck?
I don't care if it sucks."
I typed,
then deleted and whined to my friend,
"It's tripe!"
And I heard it.
The voice in my head.
And it said to me,
"What kind of 'writer' are you?
Your plot's full of holes
and your humor's not funny.
And nobody
likes your main character, honey."

"I know some good ways I could help,"
said the voice.
"I have some good crit,"
said the voice in my head.
"A lot of good crit.
I will give it to you.
"Your 'readers' will thank me so much if I do."

Then suddenly I
did not know what to say.
My word count was already low
for the day.

But my friend said, "No! No!
Make that voice go away!
Tell that voice in your head
you do NOT want to play.
It should not be there.
It will make you morose.
It should not be there
With your deadline so close!"

"Now! Now! Have no fear.
Have no fear!" the voice pled.
"My crit is not bad,"
said the voice in my head.
"Why, this could be
quite a good piece," the voice said,
"with a technique I call
rip-rip-rip it to shreds!"

"Fucking Christ," said my friend.
"Let's not do this again!"
"Gotta go," said my friend,
and she signed off IM.

"Have no fear!" said the voice.
"I would not steer you wrong.
I will beta for you
I will make your piece strong.
By deleting this poo
and then writing instead--
good words," said the voice, said the voice
in my head.

"Look at this!
Look at your ghastly word choice.
And your info-dumps, oh--
and your character's voice!
He can't talk like this, dude!
He can't say 'fuck' this much!
Oh, the sentence fragments!
And your 'worldbuilding' sucks!
And look!
This is not realistic at all!
But that is not all!
Oh, no.
That is not all..."

"Listen up!
Listen up!
Listen up NOW!
It is good to use words
but you have to know how.
I can teach you to write
things that people will read!
Just as soon as you scrap
this ridiculous screed.
You must shitcan this 'plot'--
your 'protagonist,' too!
And then with my help
you can write something new.
You can write something great
if you do as I say!
But never your way.
Oh, no.
Never your way."

That is what the voice said...
So I sat on my bed.
I sat there like a lump
and I wanted to quit.
Then I said to the voice,
"Fuck you and all your 'crit'!"

So I took a long nap
and I thought and I thought.
I said, "Are you helping?
Oh, no! You are not.
You're not helping me grow
or write something worth shit.
No, you are not helping,
not one little bit!"

"Get out of my head!"
said myself to the voice.
"I have to write now!
Deadline's Monday--no choice!
You tore down my plot
and my characters too.
You wasted my time
and I wrote nothing new.
You SHOULD NOT be here,
mean old voice in my head."
So I banished that voice
and I wrote this instead.

n3m3sis43: ((FMAB) Huuuughes and Winryyyy)
"We have to talk," Katie's eyes are hard and her brow's all creased up.

I nod and I try to look agreeable, but I don't say a word and I keep on brushing Daniel's hair. And I focus on the sweet floral scent of his shampoo and how soft his hair feels and the way it slides like black silk through my fingers. Katie wanted to cut it last year when all of this started, but I wouldn't let her. It's his pride and joy, or at least it was.

He won't be able to keep it up, Katie said, and you'll have your hands full anyway.

But my hands don't feel full, not with all I've lost.

"It's about Daniel," she continues, and her voice's so cold.

He doesn't react to the sound of his name, but I do. Because I don't want to talk about Daniel--not now with him here and not later, either. I know what Katie's gonna say, and I don't want to hear it. My hands won't stay steady and I almost drop the brush and it snags in Daniel's hair. And he turns to me with a small, hurt noise, and he's too pale and his eyes are big and shadowed and scared. But he's every bit as beautiful to me as he's always been, and for a second I swear he's there, really there--

And he blinks and the moment passes, and my heart breaks all over again.

"Sorry I scared you, dude," I whisper, and I lay a hand on his back. I can feel his ribs through his T-shirt and the too-fast beating of his heart. His whole body tenses under my touch, and I've gotta stay still 'til he relaxes. But then he leans in and rests his head on my shoulder, and I hold him close and breathe him in and remember how he used to be. How we used to be. And I remember those first awful weeks last year--how lost he looked and his endless questions.

What happened? Was I dead? Am I alive now?

One year and who knows how many tests and treatments later, and we still know so little.

Every thirty seconds and sometimes sooner, his memory resets and for him there's nothing in between. And he's quieter now with all the meds they've got him on, but those questions are still there and I can see them in his eyes whenever he looks at me.

Where'd I go? How long was I asleep?

But there's never any answers to give him, because even the doctors're stumped. It's a brain injury, they say, but they're not clear on the cause and I can't help because I wasn't around when it happened. They tell us it's a rare case and they look at Daniel like he's a puzzle for them to put together. But they can't find all the pieces, and they can't say for sure if he'll get better or how long it'll take if he does. It could happen tomorrow or in a year or not at all. And that's the worst part, that nobody really knows anything.

All I know is Daniel's gone, maybe forever, and I wasn't there when he needed me most.

"Jess?" Katie's voice is softer now, but she's not gonna let me ignore her.

"What is it?" I ask, and I'm so tired, all worn out from fighting so hard to hold onto what's left.

And I feel selfish saying that when Daniel's the one who's lost everything. It's not so much work taking care of him, really. Because it turns out he can take care of his hair and his showers and all those things just fine on his own as long as you remind him every day. The doctors call that procedural memory, and it means his body remembers how to do things even though his brain doesn't. So he can still tinker with his circuits and wires and stuff, and it makes him so happy and it's the only time he's almost him.

But you've gotta watch him so he doesn't get distracted and burn the house down... like he almost did the other day.

Katie twists a lock of her own black hair around one finger. "I think we need to consider... other options for his care."

My eyes well up and my stomach's in my shoes and I think I might choke on this lump in my throat. But I knew this was coming and I've gotta stay calm, so I wait to speak 'til my voice won't shake. "There are no other options."

"Jess." All the steel's gone from her now, and her voice's flat and kinda robotic. "He's not getting any better."

My arm tightens around him of its own volition and he lets out a soft little sigh. And there's no way I'm gonna abandon him again, not now and not ever. "He's--" My words come out all squeaky and I swallow and start over. "He's calmer, isn't he?"

Katie snorts. "More like catatonic." She shakes her head, and her dark eyes flash. "How long do you think you can keep this up? You're only nineteen, Jess. You're supposed to be going out to parties and... doing whatever normal people our age do."

"You don't understand--" I start, but Katie cuts me off.

"Understand what?" she demands, and her face might as well be made of metal except for the flush rising on her brown skin. "That you blame yourself for a breakup that wasn't your fault? Or that you're wasting your life playing nursemaid to make up for it?"

Her face's too close to mine and her breath's hot on my cheeks. Daniel squirms away and he huddles in the corner and makes himself small and I want to tell him it's all gonna be okay. But it isn't okay, and I don't know if it ever will be. And I want to tell Katie it is my fault, because I knew he didn't mean all those things he said to me, the last time I saw him before. I knew it was just a fight and I walked out on him anyway, and he never takes care of himself when I'm not around, and--

"Snap out of it, Jess," she growls, and she lunges toward me and I think she's gonna slap me. But she grasps me by the tops of my arms instead and lifts me onto my feet. She shakes me like a ragdoll and her long nails dig into my skin.

"H- he belongs with me, K--"

"Yeah, right," she snaps. "That's why you were on that six-week 'vacation' at your parents' house when all this started."

And she might as well have slapped me right across the face, the way that stings.

"You didn't break him, you idiot." Her arms fall to her sides and she stares at the floor, and I've never seen her look so sad. "I heard him yelling at you clear across the house, and I heard the front door slam when he left. He walked out on you first, and you were right to leave him when you did. He was broken from the start--"

"He's. Not. Broken," I hiss through gritted teeth, and that low, icy voice's coming from my mouth but it doesn't sound like mine. My blood's pounding in my ears and there's this crazy strength surging through me. And I'm shaking but it's not because I'm scared, and all of a sudden I don't feel like sweet, harmless little Jess anymore. I march right up to Katie and I stare her down and I swear I could throw her across the room. Daniel shrinks away from me, and he mutters something I can't make out.

But Katie doesn't back down one bit. "Well, he's not coming back, is he? Look at him."

He's cowering against the wall, and his eyes are bright with fear.

"Is this the man you love?" Katie won't let up, not for one minute.

And all my rage drains away in an instant, because that's a question I can actually answer. "Yes."

She hollers something back, but I don't hear what it is because my eyes are on Daniel. And he blinks back at me with this light in his eyes and I want so much to believe it means something. That this time it's him, it's really him and he's back for good. But I've been hoping so hard for way too long, so I swallow and I brace myself for the moment the light flickers out again.

But it doesn't come.

Daniel's perfect brows knit together and he clears his throat. "Don't fight," he croaks. "Please."

His voice's like a thousand rusty hinges but it's the most wonderful sound I've ever heard.

I throw my arms around him and I snuffle into his shirt and he holds me like he's never gonna let go. My hands tangle in his hair and now I'm the one with all the questions but I'm too busy clinging to him for dear life to ask them.

"She's right, y'know." His words're soft puffs against my ear and they make me shiver. "Did this to myself."

I'm drenched in tears and my head's spinning and I don't want to pull away, but I do. "What d'you mean, dude?"

"Might not want anything to do with me once I tell you," Daniel mutters.

He leans forward and he lets his hair fall over his face like he always does when he's ashamed. And it's so him it makes me ache, and there's nothing he can say that'll change the way I feel, and--

"You left, and I--" He pauses and picks at the carpet, and he takes a deep breath. And he leans his head back against the wall and closes his eyes. "Look, I fucked up, okay? Knew this guy..." He trails off, and he looks straight at me with his big wet eyes and shakes his head. "I don't deserve you, Jess. I wanted this."

And I can't think straight, because nothing makes sense. "You wanted this? To lose all your memories?"

"Not all of them." He sighs. "Guy wasn't supposed to take everything. Just--" His voice cracks, and my heart does, too.

Because I already know what he's gonna say, but knowing doesn't make it hurt any less. He cups my chin in one gentle hand and he plants a soft kiss on my forehead. And he whispers the words against my skin.

"Just... you."

Author's Note:
This story and its characters are fictional, but the idea was inspired by a real person. They did not teach me about Clive Wearing when I got my psych degree, and I feel a little cheated (especially since I'm still paying back my student loans).

n3m3sis43: ((FMAB) Huuuughes and Winryyyy)
"There are architects and gardeners. The architects do blueprints before they drive the first nail, they design the entire house, where the pipes are running, and how many rooms there are going to be, how high the roof will be. But the gardeners just dig a hole and plant the seed and see what comes up."

--George R. R. Martin, on the difference between outlining and discovery writing

I'm only writing this because I can't finish my book.

It went so well at first. I banged out a first draft, sat back, relaxed--and then realized it was crap. Which I was okay with, because I hear this is a common problem with first drafts. I figured I was home free, since all I had to do was fix it in the second draft. How naive I was. One does not simply write a second draft--not if one is a discovery writer.

In the fabulous world of discovery writing, the process goes something like this.

1. Write your first draft.
This part is pretty easy, because the characters kind of just do things. You'll probably spend a lot of time asking yourself, "Why would he [or she] do that?" Other than that, things are good, your creative juices are flowing, you're thinking, "Wheeeeeee, I can do this! I can really write a book." If you're writing 1000 words a day or so, you're done in a few months.

2. Review what you've written.
Here's where you start to run into trouble, because this is when you realize 90% of your "novel" is character development. Say you've got a 100,000-word first draft. The typical novel has 250-300 words per page, so you've written a 400-page book with, at most, 40 pages of plot. Whatever plot you do have bears little resemblance to the story you thought you were writing.

3. Write an outline for your second draft.
To a discovery writer, outlining might sound like pure torture. It's not so bad, though--all you have to do is pick up the cues your characters have given you and develop them into a coherent plot. It's satisfying to see it take shape, and you're optimistic for your second draft.

4. Begin the second draft.
Oh, boy. Remember that outline you wrote? Your characters laugh in the face of it. Within a few thousand words, your plot's taken an unexpected turn, thereby invalidating most of your carefully thought-out storyline. You may still have a basic idea of where the book is going, but how you're going to get there? That's a bit of a mystery.

5. Regroup.
Stop expecting your characters to cooperate and resign yourself to the fact that they're going to do what they want, when they're damn well ready. Give up on writing "in order" and write the chapters in the order they reveal themselves to you. Attempt to determine what order everything is really supposed to go in. Practice deep breathing.

6. Panic.
At this point, you may begin to lose your mind. It's not unusual for your characters to feed you lines of story as you're waking up or falling asleep. While you're driving, in the shower, during sex. You have 200,000 words of random notes for your book but only six chapters in your second draft. Your characters lie to you. You argue with your characters. They argue back.

7. Repeat steps 3-7 as needed.
Do them in any order you please. Rewrite the same chapter five times. Whatever. It's not like you're finishing the fucking book anyway.

8. Realize that your "main character" is not, in fact, your main character.
In hindsight, this probably should have been obvious. Oops.

9. I have no idea.
I already told you--I wouldn't be writing this if I could finish my novel.


n3m3sis43: (Default)

March 2017

5 67891011


RSS Atom

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Sep. 21st, 2017 10:41 am
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios