Deadly Ever After

The Writing Adventures of The Undead Duo–Julie Hutchings and Kristen Strassel

Putting Your Money Where Your Stupid Mouth Is

TODAY’S BREW: Still celebrating the 5 star review, so I think there may be a Cinnamon Dolce Latte in order.

By Julie

I’m a bit of a jerk, as you all may know. Kristen is a bit of a girl. When she acts like a girl, my jerk tells her so, and when I overstep my jerk bounds, her Feelings side bring me down to size.

I’m on Super High right now over Running Home’s cover, and the edits, and the fact….yes, FACT, that it will be available any moment now. Right, Roy? ANY MOMENT NOW. The book got a 5 star review from Opening Line Literary ‘Zine, and I have never felt like that in my life. The Harpy edits are still progressing, slower than I want, but I have to give my brain a little time occasionally.

Still got an idea for a book, though. Kristen made me say it out loud on Undead Duo Live on Monday night. No, I gave no details because I’m still rolling it over in my heart, feeling it out. But I have this thing, where if I come up with an idea for a book, I act on that bitch. Rarely do I put it aside. So I’ve come up with a bit of structure for it, and I’m feeling it. I am.

Leave it to Chynna Blue Scott, Jolene Haley and Josh Hewitt, incredibly supportive Twitter friends, to drag out of me what this idea is. I emailed them my thoughts, and they loved it. That got me excited AGAIN, and then, then I sent it to Kristen.

Her response was “I’m not into it.” She said it feels like it’s been done. She is going to hate me for this post, by the way.

I got immediately fucking pissed. We were sitting on the same couch when it happened, and we didn’t talk for an hour. We made up, we always do, and I could have not taken such offense, and she could have been more gentle. I’ve become so accustomed to positive encouragement, and haven’t had anyone tell me my idea sucked for a long time. And the high sank at the speed of….me running towards a pizza.

I thought what the fuck have we been preaching about vampires not being a done deal, and doing them in a unique way that nobody has seen before for? Why are we saying anything you write is worth writing because you created it and your idea is unique no matter what? What a bunch of bullshit, if at the end of the day the gut reaction isn’t “what kind of spin are you putting on this to make it yours?” This talk of having a voice that stands out in a saturated genre is just talk.

And then I got annoyed that I wasn’t standing behind my own convictions. Just because someone says it might not be the best thing they ever read, does not mean you buckle and move on. Write what you want to write, and damn writing for someone. I’m passionate about my work, and that is what will make it stand out. You can’t be passionate about something that you don’t stand behind. Of course I’m sensitive about people liking my work, I don’t care what anybody says, we all are. But after I get over the little tidal wave of criticism, I stand up and jump into the waves. Because fuck it, writer’s gonna write.

WRITE THE BOOK YOU HAVE TO WRITE OR EVERYTHING BREAKS.

This is my favorite quote, and it works in a couple of ways. Write what itches you, or you’re going to feel it forever, in a bad way that no amount of hydrocortisone can fix. But also, if you find you don’t have to write it, chalk it up to a cool idea for another time, and write the book that breathes fire into you.

I don’t know which one of these categories this book falls into. But if Kristen hadn’t challenged me on it, I wouldn’t have the urge to dig deeper into the roots of why I want to write it. That purpose in writing it, that is what makes a book a good one. That tangible emotion that sweats onto the page from an author who had to get the story out. Otherwise, a good idea is just a good idea, and not a living, breathing thing begging to be let out.

I still don’t know if this book needs to be written by me or not, but now I have the kick in the ass to find out.

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7 thoughts on “Putting Your Money Where Your Stupid Mouth Is

  1. In my experience, there are ways to do things that have been done before. You just have to find the places to twist it and make it your own, something no one else would have done.

    To be honest, I believe we should do that with everything we write. As writers, we should put our stamp on it and make it so people will see that no other writer would have done it quite that way. Certainly, it’s how I approach every story idea I have, including my vampire one, which was partly inspired by people saying it’s been done.

    Apparently I have an eight-lane highway of perversity running through my nature. 😉

  2. Yeah, I pretty much come out looking like a jerk in this. I never said Julie’s writing was bad. The idea just wasn’t my cup of tea. Hopefully my input of feeling like there’s a lot of this out there will push her to make it something totally new and original. Because she might be hurt the fact I didn’t love the concept, and we definitely made up, but she’ll definitely remember what I said when she’s writing. Just like with vampires. She’ll need to make it different. And I know that will push her to make it a better book.

    No, we don’t agree on everything. We actually have a lot of disagreements. But we work it out. That’s what makes me me and Julie Julie.

    Julie doesn’t love every idea I come up with either. Yeah, it hurts. But I either have to get over it and move on or dwell on it and let my idea die. If I feel strongly about it, I give my computer screen the middle finger and proceed anyway. Yup, I do. Immature, but it works.

    We need to have a thick skin if we expect to put our writing out in the world. Not everyone’s going to love every single thing, and that doesn’t make that one naysayer right. But it will be the comment that lingers in our head the longest, louder than all the praise. Art is personal. It’s not like finding out you fucked up your TPS reports. It’s you who’s fucked up.

    If you can’t take the fucked up heat, you don’t belong in the art kitchen.

    Kristen

    • I agree whole-heartedly about the need for a thick skin and that no matter how well you write, your work won’t be for everyone.

      Only I don’t see you ask being a jerk in this. I’d say you were being honest, Kristen (if very blunt about it from the sound of things). I think there are writers out there who write stories that have been done to death all the time because they aren’t lucky enough to have someone as a writing partner who will challenge them like that. If you guys agreed on everything, I doubt you’d grow that much. It’s the push that makes you grow.

      Some days I rather envy you two having each other for things like that. Seriously.

  3. When you really think about it, every story line has already been done before. The challenge is making your characters breathe that fire you talked about to make it feel fresh. Readers remember complex, flawed, screwed up characters, more than a story line.

    Kristen only told you what you needed to hear to push you in the right direction and not end up with TPS reports.

    Write On!

  4. OH, Julie…I get this post completely. Deb, my fiancee, is very supportive and, th0ugh she doesn’t really like horror, she generally likes my writing. But when she doesn’t…oh…it makes me upset. I finished a novella for a secret project, thought it was like the best thing I’d ever written, and her response was tepid. Ouch. Brings ya down to earth, but don’t let anyone ever dissuade you from writing what’s in your heart. That’s truly all that matters.

  5. Jules…
    You are a jerk.. We love you for it. It keeps us all honest, woman! For F*&^ sake, Write the fucking book! I want to read it. GO Now.. Write something…

  6. caliccardi on said:

    Reblogged this on C.A.Liccardi and commented:
    When saying “i love you” isn’t enough… Write what you need to write. Julie tells us all about it!

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