I know how irritating it can be when I get a song stuck in my head … or some random thing that I just can’t let go of. I can’t imagine creating an entire world and having all the characters clamoring all at once. Or, in some cases … multiple universes.
Here is author, LA Witt, to talk about how she handles it.
They Never Shut Up
I’ve been writing since I was a kid, but didn’t find my niche – erotic romance – until late 2008, and that was when I started to really connect with my characters. Though I’ve always gone through life with one foot in a fantasy world, some part of my brain always thinking about this or that story, it was my romance characters who started demanding more than just a little spot in the back of my brain. These days, it’s a safe bet that if I’m not actively engaged in something, I’m thinking about my story. It’s probably a safe bet even if I am engaged in something.
I plotted out most of Something New Under the Sun (the sequel to A Chip In His Shoulder) while driving through the desert. I’ve outlined and written countless stories on planes, in waiting rooms, even in an ER with an IV hooked to my arm. My brain is always in storyland.
The only problem is, this doesn’t stop when I sleep. Or rather, when I try to sleep. I’ve been an insomniac for as long as I can remember, and somewhere along the line, I got into the habit of, when sleeplessness led to boredom, letting my mind wander. No better time to think than while lying in the darkness with nothing else to do. And if a story has really grabbed my attention, I’ll spend hours on end thinking about it when I should be sleeping. Which means, of course, now I sleep even less. Go figure, right?
But seriously, it didn’t take long to figure out that the less a story lets me sleep, the better it probably is. Most of the stories I consider to be my best resulted in days on end of ridiculous amounts of insomnia. I’ve even been known to back burner a story if it couldn’t hold my attention enough to keep me awake.
And right now? Right now I’ve got two stories that refuse to shut up. One contemporary (From Out in the Cold), one futuristic sci-fi (Wireless). Does this mean they’ll be good? Not necessarily. Still have to actually, you know, write them. But the characters certainly have me by the throat and refuse to let go long enough to let me sleep, so fingers crossed that they’re worth the circles under my eyes and the risk of faceplanting on the breakfast table and drowning in my Lucky Charms.
It’s not entirely a bad thing, though. Lying awake at night is a great time to sort out plot issues. The entire climax of Cover Me came to me while I was trying and failing to sleep. It just means I’m consuming massive quantities of caffeine in the daylight so I can stay conscious enough to, like, write it down.
But you know, it beats the hell out of those years when work-related anxiety – did I remember to give those papers to my boss? Did I fax that thing to the customer? Did that shipment go out? I did make it next day air, didn’t I? Oh God, I screwed up that order, I am in so much trouble tomorrow – that used to keep me awake. I mean if I’m going to spend the entire night staring at the ceiling, I’d rather be trying to figure out how my two characters resolve their insane relationship problems than working myself into a panic over who’s going to yell at me tomorrow, you know?
So there you have it: further proof that I am insane.
Oh, and strangely enough, even though I do dream, I never dream about my stories. Go figure, right?
L.A. Witt is an abnormal M/M romance writer who, after three years in Okinawa, Japan, has recently relocated to Omaha, Nebraska, with her husband, two cats, and a three-headed clairvoyant parakeet named Fred. There is some speculation that this move was not actually because of her husband’s military orders, but to help L. A. close in on her arch nemesis, erotica author Lauren Gallagher, who has also recently transferred to Omaha. So, don’t anyone tell Lauren. She’s not getting away this time…
LA has added a print book to our GRL Reading Challenge Grand Prize. Remember to post your list for your chance to enter.