Monday, July 7, 2014
Perils of Cleaning
When I start a new series, I begin with what I call brain-storming notes. In this phase I do a lot of 'what-if' stuff, researching possibilities, ruminating on various scenarios. Then when a set of ideas gel somewhat, I start writing to see how it works in reality. Sometimes, I hit it on the first try. More often, that isn't the case.
Once I have a chapter or two down, I begin to keep a running list of character names, place names, any new vocabulary words I've made up, customs, governing bodies, clothing and hair styles, etc. You're probably scratching your head by now, but most of my stories are a combination of fantasy/futuristic/paranormal. Wearing my world building hat, I not only write the story, but first I have to create the world.
As I move on in the process, I tend to scribble notes on stickies and slap them down on my original list. Occasionally, while watching television or cooking or something, I might take a fresh note pad and try to organize the original list and all the scribbles into a coherent whole.
And the process goes on...
Normally, when I finish, I go back and re-organize the mess, filing it in a series bible notebook. Then when I write the next book, I know what I did with the previous ones. Normally, I say.
However, things do crop up. Family emergencies, medical emergencies, life issues. And when those things happen, normal processes tend to go by the wayside. That's what happened with my Tuatha Treasure notes. I've spent three days poring over stacks of notes and maps. I re-read the first two books and started NEW lists, only to discover errors in the first two books. Not huge errors. Probably not even errors anyone would notice except me. But I'm picky enough they'll bother me until they're fixed. Another note to add to the pile.
On more than one occasion, I've had to pick up, shuffle together, and stack notes in boxes, drawers, on a shelf, because of an emergency. It never ends well.
I'm a vertical filer. That's a person who has a stack of papers and knows exactly what is in that stack. And even the approximate location in the pile. Just don't move my stack. I once had a boss who decided to 'clean up' my desk while I was gone on vacation. She filed everything away and when I came back, my desk was clean.
Over the next few weeks, she asked for this paper or that file and I had no idea where it might be...because she moved MY files. After about the third or fourth time I pointed to my desk and said, "It was in this pile, two-thirds of the way down, under the such-and-such file," she swore she would never touch my desk again.
Is my style efficient? Absolutely not. But it works for me and I'm getting too old to care about changing it. So...back to recreating the bible for Tuatha Treasures. Since I'm starting from scratch, it'll probably be a better set of notes than the original because it won't contain all the false starts and changes I made along the way. But it will take time I don't want to spend right now. I suppose that's the penalty of cleaning up. No good deed goes unpunished.