Thursday, October 19, 2006

The Ache


Book 2 is flowing really well these days. Before most people have even gotten into their cars to head to work, I've already written several pages. I've come to the point where I'm not just seeing 4 or 5 pages ahead, I'm seeing 20 to 30. (Yeah, I'm one of the non-outliner crowd.) This is an exciting point for me in any story, when I'm really starting to feel it. This morning I hit page 170, and by some point next week I'll pass 200 - my unofficial halfway point.

But this is also when I start experiencing a good but at time annoying side effect. I call it the Ache. It grabs me deep down, at my very root.

I'll be sitting at my computer at work or on my couch watching TV or lying in bed getting ready to sleep and it hits me. My characters begin talking to me. Before I even realize it a whole scene is played out in my mind, but almost seems as if it's playing out in front of me. I start speaking in dialogue, rapidly, nearly unable to keep up. Then I repeat it over and over, three, four times. Sometimes making subtle changes, sometimes repeating word for word. I then reach for a pad of paper or open a new document on my computer and I write it down.

That's not the annoying part. The annoyance comes in when I'm not somewhere I can write it down. Perhaps driving down the freeway, maybe sitting in a movie theater, or, like yesterday, while I was walking down the street to pick up lunch. I had nothing to write it down, but that didn't stop me from going over the dialogue over and over. And, yes, every once in a while I found myself talking out loud.

Today was only a minor annoyance. The scene kept playing through my mind as I picked up my food, grabbing on and not letting go. It stayed with me all the way back to the office, so the first thing I did was write it down.

I love the Ache. I just hate it when I don't have an opportunity to write it down. I've lost tons of stuff that way. NEWS FLASH: My memory ain't the best. But when I do keep it, when the Ache translates to words on the page, there is nothing better.

We all get the Ache...but I'm curious where the strangest place was that you got it...

19 comments:

Steve G said...

Brett, the strangest place for me is while driving on the German Autobahn. I'm sure it's a pretty common occurance while driving, but can be pretty harry while doing 90 mph. You have to watch out for trucks pulling into your lane to pass a slower vehicle or the Porsche blinking its headlights for you to move over as it moves up to your backside like you're standing still.

Bill Cameron said...

I hate it when it happens in the shower. This morning, boom, all kinds of stuff came to me in the shower. By the time I got dried off and at the keyboard, three-quarters of it was gone. Bah!

I get a lot of stuff while I'm driving, but I keep a tape recorder in the car for that. Most fun is when my son is in the backseat and I start gabbing away into the recorder. Best response from the youngun yet: "What the heck kinda story are you writing, anyway?"

I'm totally absorbed in the ache right now. I have a deadline coming up in 11 days, which is good because it's given me great focus. Not so good in day job terms though. The nice this is that at this point, I can see the end. I just have to write up to it.

John Schramm said...

I experienced that a few times at Bouchercon during interesting conversations. I didn't want to pull away, and would have felt silly whipping out a notebook and scribbling.

The worst place for this is in bed, while I'm waiting for sleep to come. Mind is racing, won't shut down, and I know I will NOT recall anything the net morning. When I get up to write it down, it makes my wife angry.

Other inopportune places include: the shower, driving on the freeway or in traffic, meetings at (day job) work).

Bill, I hope you make your deadline.

Brett Battles said...

Steve...I gotta say, I'm jealous. The autobahn, ah! Nice. (You might be interested in the fact that nearly the whole second half of my book is set in Berlin.)

Bill...the shower. Yep, that's a bad one. I love/hate when that happens.

John, don't have the wife worry, but I do have the "I'm so comfortable in my bed, I'm sure I'll remember it in the morning" then don't issue. Amounts to the same thing I think.

Stephen Blackmoore said...

I get that a lot at the gym. Treadmill's a great place for ideas. Crappy place to write them down. I do the same thing of running scenes over and over in my head until I've got it so down that when I sit down to write it I know exactly what's supposed to happen.

What I hate are those times that I sit down to write and the whole thing disappears from my head. Nothing comes out. It's like I already used it all up thinking about it.

Jippy said...

This is so funny! I am cracking up, thinking about you talking to yourself. Just stay off the park benches, someone might give you a dollar or the left overs from their lunch! It did happen to me once in the lobby of my son's school. I said something out loud and the receptionist," Are you talking to me?" Thanks for giving "The Ache" a name. PS My cell phone lets me record some notes...a few key words usually recalls the whole scene for me.

Brett Battles said...

Blackmore on a treadmill? Thanks for putting that image in my mind...but I can see where that would be a problem.

Jennifer, I live to entertain others. Glad I could do a little for you...hahaha...that cell phone thing is cool. I need to get a new phone so maybe I should look for that option.

Richard said...

What an interesting still-shot you have chosen for your post today, Brett. The Third Man. It made me think… The strangest place for me was in a quiet little restaurant slash bar in Santa Monica while having lunch (or was it dinner?) with Orson Welles, Norman Corwin, Ray Bradbury, and William "Bill" Shatner: they were sharing Hollywood stories and I was sworn to secrecy "until they were all dead or mostly forgotten." (Like that bunch of fast-friends could ever be forgotten!) I was twenty years old, a student at USC and worked as a lab assistant for Corwin for a couple of semesters. But I think it would be okay, now, since Mr. Welles has been gone and sadly missed for twenty years…

Steve G said...

Brett, The Cleaner is one book I have to pick up.

Tasha Alexander said...

Great post, Brett!

Now, I'm weird about The Ache. Doesn't matter where I get it--I have this supreme faith that if I can't write the idea down immediately and later don't remember it, it probably sucked in the first place.

Dangerous, I know.

Usually I get The Ache when I'm about to fall asleep. So far, I've not been disappointed by morning amnesia. In fact, I've had quite a few sentences that survived the night

Brett Battles said...

Richard, that is one meal I wish I'd been at!! And yeah, The Third Man. It's a perfect blend of two of my favorites - Orson Welles and Graham Greene.

Steve, I'll hold you to that!! (Really, I will...if you don't, I'm coming over and forcing a copy into your hands after it comes out.)

Thanks, Tasha. Interesting philosophy...the suckage theory. Hmmm...I always worry that the ones I remember are the sucky ones. But as always, your presences here brightens all of our days!! :)

Amra Pajalic said...

Walking to work is the worst. I have to try to remember until i get to the train (and hope I have a seat so I can write it down). I like the idea from Jennifer to use the cell. Might give that a shot.

Rob Gregory Browne said...

I bought a little mp3 recorder and carry it with me at all times. When I have an inspiration, I record it.

Still get my best ideas in the shower, though. In fact, when I'm stuck, I TAKE a shower. Always gets the creativity flowing (no jokes, Bill).

But I can't carry a recorder into the shower...

Steve G said...

Brett, you have my word on it. Hope it will be sold through Amazon or B&N. Would hate to spend the money on a plane ticket back to the states to pick it up. I have to pick up a copy of Rob's book also.

Brett Battles said...

Amra, yeah, walking can be a problem...

Gread idea, Rob. I think I might have to investigate getting one of those.

And Steve, no worries. Both will be on Amazon. In fact, Rob's book is already there and you can pre-order it.

Brett Battles said...

I tired to put the link to Rob's book in the last comment...hmmm...weird. Here it is again (hopefully):

http://www.amazon.com/Kiss-Goodbye-Robert-Gregory-Browne/dp/0312358393/

Rob Gregory Browne said...

Thanks for trying, Brett. Just go to amazon, Steve, and type in Robert Gregory Browne. It'll get you there.

Rob Gregory Browne said...

Okay, Brett, this is getting weird. I just looked at our photos and it looks like we're in the same back yard...

Brett Battles said...

Damn...I never noticed that before...you're right! Okay, officially weirded out.