Monday, December 18, 2006

Things That Make Me Paranoid

In the category of "things that make me paranoid," this morning every pen on my desk either disappeared or quit working. The pen I'd been using that worked is nowhere to be found, and every other pen I picked up wrote maybe one letter before trailing off into nothing, no matter how much I scribbled with it. The only thing I found that worked was one from a sort of artsy gift someone gave me, where they'd attached silk flowers to pens so it looked like my pen cup was a vase of flowers. Maybe "they" (whoever "they" are) missed messing with this pen because they didn't know it was a pen. It's a little unwieldy to write with a pen with a big flower sticking off the top of it, but at least it does write.

Something else that makes me paranoid: "meeting" my "characters" in person. My mental image of Rod from my books is loosely based on a local television reporter (no, not the one I have a huge crush on). He's the guy who does the wacky human interest features, and I guess the best way to describe him would be to say he has a very unusual face. It's one of those rubbery comic type faces, and in his work he does a lot of mugging for the camera, so he looks even goofier. Well, Saturday night when I was out for dinner with some friends, this guy was seated at the table next to us, directly across from me, so if I looked straight across my table, I was looking right at him. I discovered that he's even more like Rod than I realized because when he wasn't in "goofball" mode the way he does his hair and dresses on the air, and when he was just being himself, having dinner with his wife instead of playing the wacky reporter guy, he was actually pretty cute. It was very much the way I imagine Rod as himself without the handsome illusion, where he can be someone who on first impression when he's not doing much with himself isn't what you'd call attractive, but if he did something with himself and relaxed and let his personality shine through, he'd be kind of cute. I had a very hard time not staring at this guy because I really wanted to study him and I didn't want him to feel like he was being stalked as a celebrity (and I'm not sure he'd like it better knowing he was being studied as a character in my books).

There's something kind of freaky about actually "meeting" people who live in my head, especially when it turns out that my instincts were right and that they have more in common with my characters than I could have possibly realized from just what I'd seen. I don't actually base most of my characters on real people. When I do have mental casting, it's more to give myself an image for a starting point, and from there the character takes on a life of his own. It's very weird to run into someone I've been using as my mental image and find out that he's got even more in common with my character than just a rough description.

Remember when I was ranting about November as National Novel Writing Month and suggested January? Well, we are going to make a go of that around here. Start setting your goals and preparing yourself to kick off the year by writing a book (or some other writing project) in January. I'll be providing helpful hints and lots of support along the way as I do the same thing (though I'll be stepping out in faith as I haven't actually got anything sold right now). And as a bonus, if you reach your goal, you'll be eligible to win some goodies, courtesy of Ballantine Books -- including some advance copies of Damsel Under Stress. Later in the week I'll post about how, exactly, this will work.

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