Pulse Pause Moments – Bad Form, Russian Style
I like to do Pulse Pause posts about once a month or so, and there’s usually no shortage of knee-weakening material around. I’ve always got some sort of hero of the hour I’m currently drooling over, that I can talk about, post pictures about, and write scads about how he (they) have this ability to bring the heart to a shuddering little halt with a look, a word, or one of those little throw-away gestures that tell you that, really, they’re just choked up inside with all the emotional overload they won’t give vent to, until they can’t help themselves and sweep the heroine into their arms…at which point we’re all recommitted to the wonder that is romance all over again.
It’s actually been a bit longer than a month since my last one (the majestic Thorin Oakenshield), so I thought I would roll right into my latest obsession, complete with drool-generating pictures…
…and I don’t have one. An obsession, that is. Well, not an obsession for a romance hero, movie hero or TV hero, anyway.
Which is so unusual, I just had to write about the reason why.
I sat staring at my computer screen, running through my head all the TV shows, movies and books I had read lately, all the gossip columns (yes, I occassionally scan the covers as I push through the supermarket aisle – I like to laugh) and websites.
We’re currently working our way through the TV series Dexter, and unusually, it’s a fascinating, deeply absorbing character study of a sociopathic character that elicits sympathy – the writing is that good. But while Michael C. Hall is easy on the eyes, it’s a stretch to call his character in any way, shape or form romantic. He can barely function adequately in most social situation. Sweeping a woman off her feet, or having a serious romantic relationship is impossible. Spoiler alert….He only realized how much he loved the woman he married after she was murdered….end of spoiler.
We’re also in a holding pattern (while we work through Dexter) on Castle, Person of Interest, The Big Bang Theory, and we have warming up in the wings The Good Wife, A Game of Thrones, Boss and while I don’t know how long Mark will last with it, I intend to watch Vikings from beginning to however long they make it.
The current series we’re watching (Dexter, Castle, PoI and BBT, NCIS) are all great television, but there isn’t a seriously good romance (anymore, in the case of Castle) in any of them.
The one outside possibility is NCIS which keeps dangling Tony and Ziva as a possibility and has done for ten bloody seasons. I left off when Tony was about to scream off to Belgium after Ziva to keep her out of trouble. I’m sensing possibilities there, but I’m patiently waiting to find out if the producers are just toying with me again.
Which is my long winded way of saying I’m without a hero to drool over, or romantic drama to hold my breath over at the moment.
But I haven’t noticed the lack in the slightest.
I have, for the last few weeks, been having an intense three way love affair with two men who have been waiting patiently for two years for me to come back to them…and I didn’t know it.
I wrote Kiss Across Chains in a white hot blaze of energy that lasted about twenty days, including two eleven-hour Saturdays where I belched out 40 pages each day. It’s days like that where I, as a writer, can sink very, very deep inside a story, and the real world tends to become remote and sometimes more nebulous than the story I’m writing.
My production of pages didn’t halt during the week. While I wasn’t producing near as many pages as I did on those two Saturdays, I was writing with the same depth of involvement – there were a few times I nearly missed my bus stop and had to slam the laptop closed and scramble to get out the door with laptop, backpack and bag all undone, then squat on the pavement and reassemble everything before walking home — while still thinking about the story.
I didn’t think anything about writing at this level of intensity. I was under pressure to get the book written – reviewers are waiting for it, and my production chain depended on me getting it finished sooner rather than later. I’ve written other books just as fast before – I wrote a novella over a weekend, once, in order to meet a deadline.
A few days after finishing the manuscript and farming it out to my beta readers, I got into a massive argument with Mark. But that wasn’t the start of my day. My day started out with two 1 star reviews that normally, I ignore. These, for some reason I couldn’t fathom, bothered the shit out of me. Then I had the argument with Mark. And I still hadn’t had my second breakfast. This was all precursor to a day that I would really like back at the end of my life. I normally have pretty even tempered days, without highlights or lows. They’re just…nice. This day made up for that in a way that would have satisfied Karma, had she been around. Maybe she was.
By the time I got home at the end of the day, I just wanted to climb into a hole and pull the roof in over me. I meditated my way through the evening by watching television and zoning out mindlessly. I was so glad to climb into bed and call the day quits.
The original inspiration for Veris
A week later, I have enough distance on the day to acknowledge that everything that went wrong with it was my fault. I didn’t let the reviews go. I didn’t let the subject drop with Mark, but insisted on being right to the point where we argued ourselves to a standstill. And the pattern was set. I was looking for bad stuff and bad stuff showed up and instead of letting it all go, I embraced it with the mindset of “there! It’s a crappy day. I told you!” and proceeded to enrich whatever shit was coming down the chute to make sure I made myself suffer as much as possible.
Why on earth would I do something so pathological?
Because I couldn’t write my book anymore. I’d lost contact with my friends. My heroes. It wasn’t until I was writing an interview the next day, and one of the questions was “Do you feel any anxiety when you’ve finished a book?” that I realized that was exactly what was happening to me.
I was going through withdrawal symptoms. I was in mourning.
Brody and Veris, and their friends and family, have been in my life, on and off, for years. I’ve had them simmering on the back burner for two years, waiting to finish their story, and Chains is a very intense, very emotional chapter – so much so that I’ve farmed the book out to beta readers for feedback because I’m too involved and can’t step back for an objective evaluation right now.
I’m not sure how I’m going to say goodbye to them.
The original inspiration for Brody
The Russian writer, Tolstoy, wrote in Anna Karenina, that in Imperial Russia it was considered very bad manners to fall in love with your own wife. I feel a little bit like that now — I’m obsessing about my own characters. I’m supposed to build my characters for my readers – you – to obsess over, love and adore. I feel like Tolstoy – it’s bad form to fall in love with your own characters.
But I’m not about to throw myself under a train for it.
I have a better punishment in mind.
Never letting go.