When The Salmon Speaks, Do You Listen?

This made sense when I drew it. I swear.

Or: The One That Got Away

Last night, Trish and Becca came over to help me select a few of my paintings to donate to the Consortium’s art fundraiser. Afterward, Becca and I chatted about all things artsy, including noveling and blogging.

As I was replacing paintings on my overloaded art shelves, Becca said, “I almost had this great idea for a new story…but it didn’t quite materialize, and now I can’t remember it.”

I nodded in sympathy, having experienced such non-remembering of ideas more times than I care to not-forget. For a few moments, we discussed the merits of Writing Things Down, and then I remembered something.

“You know,” I said, “I just remembered something. I read somewhere that if we don’t quite remember a story idea, then maybe it wasn’t a valid story idea after all. If it really is The One, it’ll probably pop up again, even if we don’t write it down.”

Story Ideas Eat My Worms

Grandpa used to take us kids fishing every summer when my parents and I congregated with aunts, uncles, and cousins at the grandparental home in Oklahoma. We’d go out to a family friend’s property and fish from this rickety, ancient, sagging wooden bridge (which was okay for the ’80s but probably wouldn’t hold water [ha ha] with any safety standard of today).

Sometimes, we caught a fish, and there was much rejoicing, since Grandpa would be the one to clean it. Most times, though, we’d feel a twitch on our line, yank our fishing pole back, and reel in nothing but a soggy, half-eaten worm who was definitely not having a good day. Those crafty fish knew just how much to nibble without getting themselves in trouble. Which goes to show that a catfish is smarter than a 9-year-old human.

Last night, after Becca went home, I had an absolutely cramazing idea for a blog post.

I didn’t write it down.

This morning, I woke up not to a bright, sparkly new idea — but to a half-eaten, soggy, grumpy worm.

Big Fish Story

No! It really was that big! I promise!

I remember things about that blog post idea. It was gonna be smart, it was gonna be snarky-funny, and it was gonna give you dear inklings some great how-to-do-something info. That unwritten, now much-lamented blog post was going to be one of my best yet. It was gonna be The One.

It got away.

So now, I’m asking myself: Was that really The One? If it were The One, wouldn’t it have stuck around? Since all I ended up with was mangled bait, does that mean the Big One is still lurking out there somewhere?

And that thought leads to the image of me, wading out into the deep and getting half a leg bitten off by something that I wouldn’t have wanted on my line in the first place.

Ideas can be scary. Some of them have sharp teeth and are big enough to swallow you whole. They wait out there where it’s dark and deep, and oh, they move fast. I picture them as deep-sea angler fish the size of a VW Beetle.

Gone Fishin’

So, if you clicked through to that angler fish picture, you’ve now seen one of my greatest fears. Angler fish fascinate me — mostly because I find the sight of them terrifying. (Imagine my surprise and relief when, a few years back, I found out they’re about the size of my hand. Or smaller. No VWs, thank goodness.)

But, in spite of my fear, I still go fishin’. No, I’ve never fished out on the ocean — but even when I’m standing on the bank of a placid Oklahoma lake, my imagination supplies the endlessly deep water and the lurking, fishy creepazoids, thank you very much. Those shiver-your-spine thoughts don’t deter me from fishing…

…but still, let’s just say I’ll never become a noodler. ; )

Gone Writin’

So, what about this write-it-or-lose-it thing? Honestly, I can’t tell ya. I carry my scribblebook with me almost everywhere, and I’m always jotting down something. Are they all viable ideas? No. I’ve stuck a few soggy worms in there. Sometimes, the simple act of writing myself a note tells me that I won’t be looking at this idea again.

But still, I write ’em down, even if they’re nothing but water-logged mush. Because if I don’t write it down, I’ll always remember that flash of fin, that brief flick of a tail, and I’ll always wonder,

Was that The One?

______________________

And you, dear inklings? Do you keep a scribblebook? How faithful are you in recording those half-glimpsed ideas?

Or do you prefer the scribble-on-scraps technique of trapping those elusive ideas?

If you don’t capture an idea, do you choose to believe it wasn’t viable in the first place?

I Come Bearing Tidings of Great Joy!

Thanks to half-serious brainstorming with Aaron, Trish, and Becca, the first draft of the unfortunately untitled Demons 3 HAS A WORKING TITLE.

I repeat: I HAVE A WORKING TITLE.

Ladies and gentlemen, I am pleased to introduce to you Stains of Grace (working title), the third novel in my Saltmarch Trilogy. I might be a chick with a thing for words, but I cannot express how relieved and excited I feel to have a title for this book! I have never yet gotten this far in a novel without having at least some idea for a title, and the lack thereof has bebothered me with vigor.

And I just realized why this lack hath vexed me so. I think I subconsciously believe that until I have a working title for a story, I don’t have permission to finish it.

I must needs rid myself of this mental hangup. And stop talkin’ pseudo-Shakespearean.

Onward, then. In other news, my darling dears, I am so close.

SO CLOSE.

The newly working-titled Stains of Grace is THIS CLOSE (see my thumb and forefinger hovering just two teensy-weensy millimeters apart in front of your face?!?) to being finished!

I want this draft to be done. I need this draft to be done. Yes, I’ve loved the adventure. Yes, I’m into Anne, my main character, and I have a special place in my heart for the others. Owin and Peter (aww, Peter!). Thomas. Daniel. Even Dante, who has finally shown up “in the flesh” (or not, rather). I notice that I have an overabundance of male characters — but then Holly’s got her own troubles, Seal and Jas wisely chose to stay in Oklahoma City, and I’m honestly considering cutting Nora out completely.

Anyway. Of course I love my story. (Every writer loves her story.) I don’t want to take leave of my characters, and I especially don’t want to take leave of the Saltmarch universe — because this is the last book in the series, and I’ve spent a lot of time here over the last three years. Typing “The End” in this draft means saying goodbye to a whole world and to a group of people I’ve come to love. And I am going to miss them.

But.

Their story needs to come to a close, for I shall very soon turn my attention to Colors of Deception once more. Final edits are coming up, and I’ll be obliged to give them my full attention. But I require closure on #3 before I can dedicate myself to #1 again. Closure means finishing Stains of Grace Draft 1, giving it a once-over, and then handing it off to my beta readers.

I am very ready to do that.

Oh! And not to mention the fact that I’ve got two sparkly new story ideas for which I need to do prewriting packages, so they’ll be ready for me to start first-drafting them as soon as I have time! I love my job. 🙂

ADDENDUM:

Since I originally wrote this post, I’ve been writing like a madwoman.  The result is that at 3:22 a.m. this morning, I wrote the two most important words in my entire manuscript:

THE END

Sha-BOOM.

And so, the first draft of Stains of Grace (working title) is officially complete.  Now comes the editing…which I, strange creature that I am, actually consider the fun part.  😀