Project X Blog 2: Accent Pieces

This is the second in a series of posts that I am writing dedicated to the process of Inspiration to Publication for my next book. Without a current working name I am using Project X as the title. 

My mother is a big fan of that home design channel with all the do-it-yourself projects shown. She’s quite crafty and has put what she’s learned to good use. One of the things she learned and has since taught me about decorating a room is this: pick a focal point of the room and design the rest around it. Yes, I know, you have this lavender you absolutely must use as it’s your favorite color and that paint will make the room look so bright! But wait, you’ve painted the room, you love it, and now you can’t find a single piece of furniture or pillows or vases or whatever that match it. You’ve officially painted yourself into a creative corner. 

Now, say you found a couch that has some of that color in it but the shades are off by a touch. If you’d already painted the room you’d have to ignore the couch due to aural dissonance. If you haven’t painted the room you can alter the color and find it works better when it was a few shades lighter or darker. 

Writing is very similar to that. Currently I have a name and some of a description for one of the main characters. This is not the first time I’ve started with the antagonist and it can be fun. I find I have a lot of sympathy for these guys when I create them first. 

Over the past little chunk of time a lot has been made of a DUI case in Texas. A teen-ager drove drunk and killed four people and has since been given probation. I offer no opinion of the case or the mitigating factor of affluenza. It is one of those stories that has been in the background for me. It offers too much opportunity for an emotional response and people tend to lose their common sense when that trigger is pulled. 

However I did spend some time today thinking about the kid in the story, the one that drove when he shouldn’t have. For the rest of his life, whether he’s in prison or rehab or walking free or something in between, he has to live with the knowledge that four people no longer walk this earth because of his incorrect decision making. It jarred my brain. I made some stupid choices in my teen years – we all have, I’m sure – and it has taken me a long time to come to terms with the repercussions of those decisions and I never killed anyone, accidentally or otherwise (I’m not counting what I write in books). 

How does a teenage brain- I’m struggling with words here – cope (?) with that kind of action? Does the guilt crush immediately? Or is there no guilt? It’s an interesting psychological question. 

I played with that today as I was walking on the treadmill. The shades were drawn and meditation was pretty easy. Say a kid with higher aspirations in life runs away when he’s 16. He’s alone and scared and needs to get some ground moving beneath his feet so he steals a car. Not being a good driver he ends up causing an accident. He’s knocked out in the crash. 

He awakens in a strange bed with no memory of what happened. A very scary guy, the very definition of muscle for the mob, is standing over his bed when he wakes up. The scary man tells him he killed two people, a woman and a child, and now his boss would like to speak with him. What happens next? 

This is a fun thought for me. I like toying with ideas that seem straightforward and then put a slight twist on them. If the boss kills him it’s a short book. So we disqualified something. 

For the next month I’ll have several of these brain storming moments. The majority of them will be tossed into the metaphorical trash heap. I’ll save parts of some, mix them up in my brain like it’s a cocktail shaker and see what pours out. This is what I mean by Inspiration to Publication. 

Not that long ago someone asked me what I do all day. I flippantly replied, “Play video games” and left it at that. I do play a lot of games on my phone or tablet. My Companion knows this all too well and, to be honest, it’s partly his fault. Don’t give me tech toys if you don’t want me to use them. Ha. The thing of it is that the games I play are slots or Tetris, things you don’t have to think about. It keeps the front of the brain busy so the back of the brain can do the heavy lifting. 

As a writer don’t feel bad if you don’t write every single day. Most full time jobs don’t require you to work seven days a week. But there’s no excuse not to have an idea or nugget of inspiration burbling around while you do your every day tasks. 

On a final side note: Three O’Clock Java has switched to decaf in the afternoons. Placebos are a beautiful thing. 

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