Kayt Ludi
I've heard other writers talk about projects that refused to go in the direction they intended/wanted, and obviously I've had ideas morph from one thing to something slightly different. However, I never really thought I'd become a victim of this particular phenomenon since I'm a dyed-in-the-wool "pantser." I have never outlined anything I've written except when forced to do so in school (and even then I always wrote the paper and then back engineered the outline). I suspect it is a combination of however my brain is wired, and the fact that, to me, outlining spoils the fun. Why would I want to bother to write something when I already know what happens?

Don't get me wrong, I have written things with a vague idea of what happens, or else there was some sort of guiding principle keeping the thing on the rails. An example would be a short story cycle in which each section occurred on a day of the week and each had an overriding theme (love, loss, betrayal, hope, etc.). But sitting down to write it I had no idea what would happen within those guidelines. The first draft of anything I write is, very literally, me telling myself the story. Or more precisely, it's the characters doing stuff which I attempt to record accurately. That may sound insane to non-writers, but I have always maintained the only difference between myself and a woman in a padded cell on a Thorazine drip is that, for reasons known only to the Universe, I'm in charge of the voices in my head, while her voices are in charge of her. But when I say "in charge" I mean that in the loosest sense. The characters that meander around in my brain are fairly autonomous, and they aren't above 'arguing' with me when I want them to do something. Though it's never been this bad before.

A couple NaNoWriMo's ago I sat down and started writing something with only the following thoughts at the start:

What if a woman turning 40 - divorced, no kids, no family besides her cat - dead-end job that sucks the life out of her daily - having a slight midlife crisis - who has always loved crime/heist/police procedural books and shows ... decided to see if she could pull off a crime herself? And what if she did it, and it worked out? What if she liked it and left everything about her old life behind?

So that was all I started with. It was NaNoWriMo, so there was no pausing to think or time for editing, just mad fits of writing as much as I could. I decided early on that I felt like this should be a series of books, that I wanted her to become some kind of female Robin Hood, and maybe after a couple of books I'd give her a love interest, maybe. Then, with Me Too in the news constantly, she morphed in my head from Robin Hood to vigilante - she branched out from hacking banks to hacking abusive corporate scum (combining blackmail and hacking to drain them of every penny AND send them to jail).

Everything was going fine, and then she went and met a guy, fell in love, and had a baby (all in the first book!). And I know I should be all "women can do it all and have it all" - I am absolutely a feminist and every woman should make any life choice she wants. But I was really annoyed she did that. I was like, "No, you can't do that yet. This is not who you are right now. You're Robin Hood, remember? Or maybe The Equalizer. You are Wonder Woman. You are Xenia Warrior Princess, for Chirist's sake! What are you doing?!? You don't need a man, you don't have time for a kid - you're saving the world, stop being all normal and shit. I am trying to write a kick ass post-feminist-Me-Too-era-heroine and you're practically turning this into a romance novel!" Not to throw shade on romance novels. Between reading way too much Austen, Kierkegaard, Turgenev, and the Analects of Confucius as a teenager, even I was slightly addicted to Danielle Steel back in the day. But that wasn't, and isn't, what I was going for.

So, the first book of the intended series wrapped itself up nicely, and the second started writing itself with me still pissed off and vaguely resentful. I have since stopped working on the second and spent probably a year TRYING to rewrite the first book, but my MC flatly refuses. Everything I rewrite feels contrived, awkward, and bland - despite the fact I'm trying to remove the 'normalcy' from her life and put her in more extreme circumstances. She went someplace she wasn't supposed to, but the story, and the writing, are a thousand times better than my attempts at reworking it. Why has she done this to me, and what do I do with her? Do I shelve her? Do I publish her? Do I keep going and see where she goes before I decide? All I know for sure is that rewriting this is ruining it.

What do you do when your characters go completely rogue?

Do you silence them ... or do you just shut up and follow them???????

I have the sinking feeling that I need to let go of my intentions and just let her do her thing. Or maybe I'm just ready for the padded cell and the Thorazine, I've been expecting them for years now.


Sometimes saying yes to drugs is the right answer. 
So, where the hell have I been (you would be entitled to ask)? 

1) In July 2018 the monsoon that tears through Arizona every year, literally ripped the roof off my condo in Phoenix. The roof was pealed back like the lid of a sardine can. The event  itself sounded like a freight train, then there were a few days of leaking and battling my irresponsible HOA, then there was the 8am Sunday morning collapse of a huge chunk of my bedroom ceiling - good times. That day my dad drove the three hours from where my parents live, helped me load up my dogs and crucial belongings, and I was out of there!

It took until the end of October for repairs on the condo to finish, then I sold it to my lovely neighbors (whose roof had also been destroyed) in November - deciding I never again wanted to own anything where the maintenance was at the mercy of an HOA I paid every month but which failed to actually maintain the property responsibly. 

Staying with my parents the entire time, I fell in love with the area they had moved to and decided to look locally for my future home. It took me until the following Spring (2019) to find something. But it was such a total wreck of a fixer upper I’m STILL not moved into it yet. So, my 5 small dogs and I are living in one small room at my parents’ house, and have been for about a year and a half. While I am obviously grateful not to be homeless, I am also on the verge of a nervous breakdown as well. 

2) On top of all that, shortly before the monsoon incident, I began to have more than normal trouble with my chronically bad back (osteoarthritis & a herniated disc pushing on my sciatic nerve). Suddenly it was much worse and my normal medication was nearly useless, then my hips and knees began to be problematic as well (I assumed it was just because I was out of alignment due to my back misbehaving). Over the ensuing year and a half I tried the chiropractor, physical therapy, vitamins, glucosamine chondroitin, turmeric, and anything else I found a vague recommendation for on the internet. Eventually, at my wits end, I broke down and went to the doctor. I hate going to the doctor (even though I currently have a wonderful one)! 

In December 2019 I found out that my Rheumatoid Factor was sky high, and was given the official diagnosis of RA. I still think it’s possible it’s actually PsA considering that I began to have psoriasis (for the first time in my life) at roughly the same time as the other symptoms, but it doesn’t really matter since the treatments are the same. 

I am currently attempting my first medication and am noticing some improvement. So far, the exhaustion, brain fog, and full body constant ache have lifted. The knees and hips are also less inflamed than they were. They’re not back to normal, and my back is still a catastrophe, but I’m fundamentally grateful to feel better in any way at all. 

Between the chaos of my living environment and the mutiny of my body, lots of stuff, including this site and my writing in general, fell by the wayside. But I feel a positive trend beginning now. I intend, and hope, to get back into the swing of things soon. 

My word for this year should probably be obvious: Regroup.

I have clearly dropped the ball of late. This site alone is proof of it. I thought I had a brilliant solution for keeping the posting here active by including any writing/reading/movie/story related assignment-produced content. Then I couldn't even keep up with that!

But despite the lateness of this post, I intend to make 2020 the year I get busy on here again.

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