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Friday, August 30, 2013

"It's Like Pulling Teeth" by Aileen Fish

In theory, writing is easy. Stories show up in your thoughts and taunt you with paths leading into misty woods where excitement lies. Or you see someone do something and think, that man needs a story. 

That happened to me once and led to my first sale at Ellora’s Cave, but the places my mind went with him are too steamy for this blog! (If you want to know, check out Celtic Rhythm by Ari Thatcher, in Ellora’s Cavemen Flavors of Ecstasy Vol. 2. But it’s not suitable for work. Or when your mom’s visiting. Just sayin’.)

One night recently I saw an old photo in a local history book, read the caption beneath it, and suddenly had an entire series take shape in my mind. The heroine, the hero who has to make some life-altering choices in order to have her in the end. Her brothers, who will of course require their own stories after Book One.

It’s a blessing, right?

Not so much. Not when there are deadlines looming and edits coming in and the lawn needs mowing…again! Didn’t I just do that last week?

New ideas are gremlins, I’ve decided. All those words they sap from your system end up not missing from your word count on the story you have to finish yesterday. My characters sit in the room where I left them, their mouths open and minds blank, awaiting the words I’m supposed to give them.

“No, wait,” I insist. “You’re real. You guys talk it out, I’ll write it down and make note of your expression, and the way you keep polishing that spot on your boot so you don’t have to look her in the eye.”

And they say nothing.

I try another tact. Pulling out a notepad and pen, I lean back in my chair, donning a flimsy German accent in my best Freud impression. “So, tell me about your childhood.”

Nobody moves. Steam rises from their teacups. A horse whinnies outside. Another afternoon passes in my writing cave.

I see that meme that says something to the effect of some people hear voices and are called mad, yet others her them and are called writers. That’s so true. I just wish they would talk to me on demand.

Do you find yourself distracted at work, or working at your hobby? What do you do to get back on track?

You can visit me at my websitehttp://aileenfish.com or follow me on Facebook to watch the ebb and flow of stories and the panic when a deadline nears. With four novellas due out in the next three months, I’ll be doing lots of celebrating in the near future. I’m always looking for people to share the fun! 


  1. Sometimes life just cuts in. Just don't let it get greedy.

  2. I'm often distracted. LOL. Honestly, the thing that helps me in my day job and writing is to take a break. After a vacation, I'm much more focused in my day job. And a few weekends ago, I allowed myself to just enjoy time with my family and I ended up writing 5,000 words that weekend.

  3. I have characters talking to me all the time when I am driving, cleaning, cooking, almost anywhere when I am away from my computer. Sometimes when I sit to write they all converge and it is hard to work on the story I must when a different one has me excited. Or, it is the opposite and they go silent, as if punishing me for not stopping what I was doing and write. I spend a lot of time trying to recapture those scenes that played out in my mind while folding laundry.

  4. Wendy, you're right about not letting it get greedy. It's hard to balance sometimes! Samantha, I think I need a vacay, lol! Jane, I must need to do more laundry.

  5. I'm having this very same problem right now, Aileen. My focus is non-existent. At best. Lol. If you find the magic number, spell, or a fairy I can force into making my muse cooperate, please let me know! :D

  6. Actually, I'm kinda scared... I used to have bits of dialogue running through my mind all the time - but these days I have to force it there. My muse is thumbing her nose at me. I have no idea what I did to tick her off.

    Your blog cracked me up by the way. Maybe I'll have The Scientist do his best Freud impression and see if my characters will answer him. ;)

  7. Aileen, I sometimes have to take the breaks. I'm in the middle of finishing up my 5th Highland Medieval romance and I find myself being distracted constantly. Plants need watering or they're going to die. Painting a room and my daughter said she and her husband are coming for a visit--this painting project has been going on for months, what with conferences and deadlines, lol. Sometimes I just have to step away from the writing, and then...I will write until I get my 2,000 words in per day. :) At the end, maybe more. :) Because no matter what, you can't sell the book you haven't finished. :)