Episode 60: Moving and Sequels and Middle School Kissing

To iron or not to iron, that is the question. This week we talk about ironing. Well, it's just one of the many things we talked about. When we batch recorded this set of episodes last winter, Melanie and Abby were both sick. We sent Mel to urgent care, then soldiered on and recorded this episode without her. (Thankfully she listened to us and went to the doctor, because as it turned out, she had a bad case of the flu.) Of course, Skype was also sick, and it totally froze on us while sharing a screen. But, like, always, we make the best of it. 

In this episode:

 

The Mathews are moving from Rhode Island to Florida! Abby has just a couple months to pack the house and make all the arrangements and do all the things, including finishing her book.

I refuse to even put the book on pause while I sell the house - because I don’t want to stop it. People may see the writing aspect of this as a chore, but the writing is stress relief. Why in a time of stress would I want to get rid of the thing that brings me joy? I can keep the momentum going while life is super chaotic because we did all that prep work in the beginning before I even started writing it. Now it’s just putting words on the page.
— Abby Mathews

Jennie points out that the mapping-out part of writing is the part most people resist, and a really detailed outline is different from what Jennie asked Abby and Mel to do. Having a picture in your mind, having the big why figured out does allow for creativity and flexibility while keeping your end goal in mind. 

Abby made a deal with herself to devote whatever time she has to writing first thing in the morning, really prioritize it, and then spend the rest of her time getting things in order for the move. She admitted she needs to let go of the word count and focus on spending butt-in-chair time on the book - getting wrung up about word count goals while trying to move a thousand miles away isn't necessarily going to help her finish the book. 

Jennie cites something she read recently about a writer asking her readers what they would do if they only have 5 hours a day to do their job (like their day jobs, if you're not lucky enough to write full time - that's most of us!). What would you cut out if you only had x amount of time? How are you using or not using your time productively? If you really, truly had a time limit and things were down to the line, how would you streamline your time and make the most of it?

Abby and Jennie also spend some time talking about possible sequels for her book. Abby wonders how much to include in book one, and how do you know what to leave open for book two, three, etc? According to Jennie, book one has to stand on it's own 110%. It must have a satisfactory resolution. Take some time to sketch out the whole universe - how is this going to play out in subsequent books? It's good to have a plan for storylines that help each book stand as a complete novel.

Most writing isn’t done on the keyboard - it’s done in the shower, while you’re driving, running errands. Give that mental real estate to yourself and let things come into your brain about your story - that’s writing too.
— Jennie Nash

After Skype freezes and we reconnect, Jennie goes on to tell Abby that she has inadvertently stumbled upon a really powerful story element that she needs to take advantage of. This is the big advantage of having a book coach-- someone who can see and point out a fabulous opportunity to grow your story according to your big WHY. They spend some time hashing out the logic behind what Abby has written. Abby's had the dad in her story disappear, and while she intended to bring him back fairly quickly, Jennie goes on to point out that by making his disappearance part of the struggle, it gives Abby the opportunity to deepen why it matters to the characters. Let the characters suffer!   

The father's disappearance also allows Abby the chance to pursue her story's budding romance in a way that is more meaningful than a simple girl-likes-boy. The characters can share a secret, be allies, reveal a side of each other than neither has shared before. But should they kiss? And when? 

As part of Abby's research, she quizzes a girlfriend's 6th-grader all about kissing. Would she read about kissing? Do 7th-grade girls even kiss boys? Like, what's the deal?! Jennie and Abby also talk about how things have changed since either of them was in school, and how female empowerment is much more the norm. Abby wants to write a book that definitely reflects girl power. And she wants to bake that into the budding romance. But the deep-level WHY has to be baked into all these details. The last 20 minutes of this conversation pretty much dissect a single kiss. 

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