Now for something different …

I thought I knew what I was going to do next. It was going to be a clever combination of crime novel and speculative fiction, with a main character sleuth who has been growing in my head for over a year. I  called the project “Next” and made folders for it on my computer and in real life. “Next” was about to happen.

Then I got a day at a spa for mother’s day.

It was six hours of relaxing with cucumber slices over my eyes while people massaged my feet and poured me champagne. Yes, it was as wonderful as it sounds.

It was also the longest I’ve gone in a long time without prodding my brain to do what I wanted it to do. (Wait. Aren’t I and my brain the same thing?)

The point is I, or some part of me, went ahead and used this wonderful time to make up a story. A rather good story, really. It didn’t surprise me because making up stories is what I’ve always done when I relax, and there was no doubt I was relaxing. I was kind of surprised at how complex the tale got, however.

By the time I’d driven home, I knew what I had to do. You see, the only time I struggle with writers block is when I (okay, some part of me, let’s call her the adult manager in charge of my head) insists I write whatever Ms. Manager has decided I must.

No matter how hard Ms. Manager insists, it doesn’t happen.

The little kid in my head who makes up the stories simply stops making them up until she is once again allowed to tell her stories, in her way. I’ve learned that if I want to be a writer, I let this little kid do as she damn well pleases. The editor in me (who I suspect is in cahoots with Ms. Manager) can clean up her mess later.

And this little kid really, really wants to tell the story she made up at the spa. So ….

I’ve drawn her a map of the imaginary realm where it will take place.  She named the characters during the full body massage, but I fleshed out several important secondary characters for her, provided a rough timeline, and created a few new words to describe concepts she came up with that don’t have a word in English.

My best friend and chief research associate (who also carries the title of “husband”) has agreed to watch a few old movies with me to provide background I know I need.

Three other people I’m close to have been nice enough to listen to a verbal version of my story. I find that telling it aloud helps me clarify it and hang on to it better, sort of the way describing a dream to someone else helps move it into the conscious mind.

Now, I’m ready to start the messy, emotional process of writing a raw draft. It generally involves yelling, crying and laughing aloud on my part, so I tend not to write first drafts in public places. It’s a scary process for me, yet it’s an exhilaration beyond any I know.

Later, all the adults in my brain will take over, and hopefully turn it into a book. We’ll see …

 

 

 

Inspiration in the worst of places

raising 4When I first outlined the stories for 46. Ascending, I knew that c3 would be about a group of young women who would thwart a sex trafficking ring, because I wanted a venue to explore the extreme edges of the way we as a society pretend not to see the many ways in which young women are exploited. I fully expected that my research would take me to some horrifying places, and it did. An internet connection is all one needs to visit ping pong shows in Bangkok and to peruse ads for “sexy and willing” Russian women. I still get them. I need to wash out my browser with soap.

SomalyWhat I did not expect, however, were how many inspirational stories and websites I would encounter as well. I stared my research with Somaly Mam’s book The Road of Lost Innocence: The True Story of a Cambodian Heroine and I highly recommend it.

My browsing then took me to the Sisters of the Good Shepherd, a group of Catholic Nun’s who have spent the last couple of centuries reaching out to women in unfortunate circumstances. I liked what I read so much that an imaginary nun worked herself into my story even though she wasn’t even in the outline. I hope that members of the order would not be offended by my spunky Sister Teresa-Marie, as she turned out to be one of my favorite characters in the book. Please read about this fine group and their efforts to help victims of human trafficking at goodshepherdsisters.org/trafficking.htm.

word porn 4Next I found several non-profit organizations dedicated to stopping human trafficking, each one with an inspiring story. I will likely blog about them all individually here over time. One of the first that I encountered was an organization called Shared Hope International, founded by U.S. Congresswoman Linda Smith after she traveled into the heart of the brothel district in Mumbai, India where “she witnessed the brutal exploitation and sexual slavery of women and children.”  She has been trying to do something about it ever since.This group also has a Facebook page well worth visiting and liking.

I expected to be disgusted at some of what I found, and I was. I expected to believe that this was a problem with no solution. Instead, I found brave women and men of all nations, ages, and belief systems working for positive change. I did not expect to walk away from my research marveling at those who fight every day to shine a bright light into the darkest of corners. But I did, and I am marveling at them still.

(Please drop by and like the Facebook pages of Raising Ecstasy and Word Porn for the great images shown above.)