Mama, just killed a man…

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Mornin’ all.

I couldn’t sleep well last night. We had some thunderstorms, which means we had a spastic cat jumping on us all night. She’s a very small cat, only about 5lbs under normal circumstances. However, when she’s scared or hyper, she breaks physics, and we get dragged from slumber coughing and sputtering from the impact of her crash landing, holding our crushed chests in hazy, sleepy confusion and wondering who just dropped a piano on us in the middle of the night.

“Get a cat,” I said. “It’ll be fun,” I said.

It’s a good thing she’s cute.

I don’t know about you guys, but we’ve had some powerful storms this summer. It’s weird, because last summer was very bland in terms of thunder and lightning and whirly windy. This one seems to be making up for it. The amount of lightning in some of these storms is amazing. I’m scared of the dark, and normally storms freak me out because of the “what if” of losing the lights. However, the ones we’ve been having create enough lightning that at worst I’d feel like I was back in my clubbing day.

Yes, “day.”

Singular.

Turned out me and clubs weren’t tight. In fact, it was a failed experiment that I was more than happy to never try again.

I finished my rough editing of the book I’ve been working on.

…which really just means that I pecked and picked and worried and reworked until I made myself stop and hit “send” and let it rest in the lap of my editor for awhile. It’s not “done”. When I get the corrections back, I’ll end up going through it all again and keep making changes. I don’t think it’s a bad thing to be obsessive over my writing. My husband and children, now…they might disagree.

I opened this one by offing a main character. Mr. Martin has set a trend! Actually, it’s not as brutal as it sounds when you consider that it’s a post-apocalyptic series. I opened the first book by wiping out about 6 billion people. One is very tame in comparison.

She was sweet, though. Actually one of my favorites. I was surprised that she died so fast.

…what?

Look, I’m just as surprised by the turns my writing takes as the reader. That’s my system. I get an idea, I roll it around in my head until I can understand the characters, and then I sit and write and see what happens. A lot of authors write this way. The spontaneity is the fun in writing.

And yes, that means a lot of plot holes that need fixing and many hours of reworking. Spontaneity is fun, but rough.

So a good character bit the dust and I never even saw it coming.

I always worry when I kill someone off. This is the first series I’ve done that really deals with a lot of death. I’ve killed a couple characters in stories before, but really, they needed it. By the time they died it was a relief. This is the first series I’ve tackled that’s more like real life. People die, and not just the ones you’re ready to see go.

I worry that it’ll piss readers off. So far I’ve only released books online, and only in one market at that. I haven’t done promotional work yet, because I’m still trying to figure that part out. My point is that I’ve got a small reader base, but they actually seem to like what I write. I’ve gotten some really humbling reviews and that feels amazing.

And then I go and kill one of the best characters.

I can’t write for the reader, though…can I? Should I? Now that I do have readers, should this actually be a question that continues to plague me?

“Where are you going with this angst, Bethie? Because if you need to piss and moan, I’ll just step out for a coffee…”

No, no. I’m not pissing and moaning. I just worry where the line is. See, when I wrote for me, or made silly stories for my family and friends, it didn’t matter. None of this mattered. I didn’t care if I killed a character they liked, because I just wrote what the characters in my head said to write.

…stop looking at me like you’re going to grab a straight jacket. It’s not crazy to hear voices if you write down what they say and sell it. That’s not crazy, that’s just a book. Ask any writer.

I wrote what I wrote and that was that and the people who read the stories HAD to keep liking me because I was family. Now that I’ve expanded outside my tiny circle, people don’t HAVE to like what I write. They don’t have to like it at all. That’s the scary part of all of this. What if I do something so heinous in the story line that the readers throw their Nooks and Kindles in frustration and just decide to quit reading?

Mr. Martin certainly isn’t worried about offending readers. He’ll hack and slash and gleefully make the best ones fall by the wayside. I don’t know his process, but I think he does it so he can introduce you to a new character that moved into the world in his head. And it works! Those books and now the tv series are amazingly popular. They’re like a series of twisted vignettes, and the world is ravenous to read the next chapter and say good-bye to their favorite in the hopes they’ll like the next new guy even better. What a great system!

Mr. Bradbury, he did the same through his mountain of fantastic short stories. Mr. King moonlighting as Mr. Bachman…

None of them were afraid to kill a character if it helped the story. I can’t see any of these great writers chewing the cap of a pen nervously as they stared at the shocking words they just wrote on the screen in front of them, wondering if they took the story a step too far.

Then again, maybe they did. Maybe everyone who kills off a good character goes through the same personal terror.

“…*achem*…”
Okay, okay. You’re right. Angsty moment over, it’s done. She’s dead. Life in Newton rolls on. No regrets, right?

*gurgling stomach of nerves*

I killed her off to set a vibe for the book. The writing style of this second on is different than the first, too. Intentionally harsh, more stilted. I don’t know if that’ll work, either. I don’t know if people will expect the story to flow the same from novel to novel. The third is set in a completely different place, with Newton in the periphery, and the fifth…I’m not even going to get into how utterly different the fifth is. I’m trying something and I have no clue if it’ll work.

I don’t know if ANY of this will work.

And to be honest, I suppose that’s part of the fun of writing, too, even if it does mean I have to keep tossing back the Tums.

Thus concludes an angst-ridden Morning Musing for Wednesday, July 16, 2014. Off I go to work on cover art and tell myself to resist the urge to correct my corrected corrections until I get it back from my editor.

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