Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde

Meet The Author

Just like so many other authors and writers out there, I have spent the past few years living split lives; having two personalities, if you will. In one life, I'm Mia Thompson, Author. In the other, I'm nameless and merely one of many employees who works eight hours a day, then picks up their modest paycheck every two weeks.

The general public may not realize how many of the authors they see on book shelves are still nurses, accountants, store clerks, and waiters. For most of us, writing is our passion, and work, only something we do to feed our needy bodies, pay our pesky bills, and afford clothes other than the PJ's we wear in front of the computer.

I often feel I'm living two secret lives. At my day job, creativity is not welcomed. The rules and orders we are given aren't meant to be bent or questioned, but followed to a T. Me, and the girls I work with, are not expected to be talented, intelligent, or to know the difference between who and whom. We are simply there to be friendly and fun while we execute Corporate's will.

I hardly ever mention to my customers that I'm an author. When I do, it seems to confuse them. Perhaps it's because they feel I don't look like an author (whatever an author is supposed to look like?) or perhaps, it's because I'm working and not sitting in front of a desk with a quill in my hand, quoting Whitman. Often they look at me as if I have ruined they way they see the world: a place where nurses are nurses, accountants are accountants, and the guy who picks up your trash will never be the one to write the next Great American Novel. Because of this, I find it easier to pretend that during nine-to-five, the author doesn't exist at all.
What our costumers and clients rarely know, is that while we scan your groceries, drawn your blood, calculate your receipts, and wipe the crumbs off your table, we are miles away. We are actually adventurers, spies, warriors, aliens, and kings of places you've never heard.

Meanwhile, at my other job, which I like to refer to as my career: My mind and my creativity are my most prized possessions. The title Author, automatically comes with a stamp of authority (whether you feel it's accurate or not.) You are the brand. Without you, the writer, there is only a blank page.
So, just like I don't mention that I'm a writer at work, I don't mention what I actually do for a living, as an author. In every blog, tweet, and interview, I shy away from the subject. Why? Because I don't want to ruin any possible image the reader may have of me and my books.
What the reader rarely knows (with the exception of NY best sellers) is the author they love, might be the very same person who sacks their groceries, draws their blood, and picks up their trash.

Living these two lives: the worker, the author, is much like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde...minus Hyde's tendencies of beating people to death, of course. In each of the two personalities hides another. Behind Dr. Jekyll's smile, there is a creature with a deeper will waiting to get out. Within Mr. Hyde's wildness, there is a calm, presentable, man waiting for his turn to come out and be social.

Perhaps, a comfort, to me and my kind (author-who-are-yet-to-live-off-their-writing) is that one personality, could not live without the other at this moment in our lives.
Perhaps without the mindless jobs which pay our pesky bills and feed our needy bodies, we would not have the same ability to dream ourselves away at will.


Friday, June 6, 2014

The Rough Draft

At 11am this morning, I finished the rough draft of Sapphire #3.

Comparison: A completed, published novel is a nicely put together plate of food: the meat, the potatoes, the vegetables, and the sauce are strategically placed together so that each individual taste and fragrance complements the other.

The Rough Draft means I have peeled the potatoes, marinated the meat, chopped the vegetables, and made a roux for the sauce.

Either way you look at it, it's all food, but it'll taste like crap if you eat it raw.

After the Rough Draft is completed, the real work starts. I spend very little time on my rough draft compared to the rewrites. The first thing I learn when I arrived at my first day of screenwriting class was Writing is Rewriting. Well, technically, the first thing I learn was: Don't be late for class. But, the understanding of Writing is Rewriting was such a valuable lesson that whenever I dig into my second, third, or fourth draft these days, I still hear my old teacher's words in my head.

Of course, just because I have the knowledge, doesn't mean the journey I'm about to set on will be any easier. Ahead of me lay months of questioning every word, storyline, and character movement. There will be at least 132 times where I'll feel like I will puke if I have to read the manuscript one more time. And, despite the serious effort of waving my hands in front of my eyes and breathing into a paper bag, I will break down and cry like a baby at least once...but probably more.

There will be jovial times where I finally nail a scene after months of trying, and times where I wish I would've became a podiatrist instead of a writer, because not even a foot can stink as bad as whatever I just wrote.


My brain before rewrites.

My brain during rewrites

Of course, there are upsides to rewriting as well. First: because of the struggles, the crying, and eventually the breakthroughs, I believe rewriting is what makes you grow the most as a writer.

Secondly: my brain tastes delicious cooked sunny side up and with a side of bacon.