When You’re The Killer: A Revelation On Writer’s Block

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In the past year I’ve been suffering from writers block when it came to my novel Miss Mary Mack and I couldn’t understand why?  I mean I could see the story clearly but I had trouble coming up with the right words.  Every scene was a struggle, which led to me abandoning the story several times.  Then one day I was having a discussion with a friend who was struggling with her teenage daughter while she came to the realization that their problems were rooted in the fact that they were both so similar.  If that isn’t the ultimate form of irony then I don’t know what is?  However as my writer’s block continued, I read several articles on why authors write themselves into their work and a shocking conclusion was reached: I was Miss Mary!!!

No, I don’t go around murdering people, (although those thoughts do pop up in my head from time to time) I took pieces of my life and sprinkled them throughout the story.  Miss Mary was in fact physically modeled after my first grade principal Miss Murray, who wore dark clothing that covered her body from head to toe.  She also was a disciplinarian which made her a terrifying figure in the first grade.  However she wasn’t evil, just tough.

I also had a fourth grade bus driver by the name of Miss Johnson who was sometimes called, Miss MaryShe didn’t really like driving a bus and insisted we all ride in silence.  Weird, huh?

Then there’s me, I’m not too fond of children, I mean don’t hate them, I just prefer not to be around them.  P.S. I come from a long line of women who were reluctant mothers.  So I was able to draw on that when it came time to summon the callousness required for a serial killer.  It was also then I realized that I was trying to make sense of my past.  And guess what?  Miss Mary is the perfect vehicle for that, I can run loose and do as much damage without really affecting anyone in the real world.  The big plus is that I can kill and not wind up in prison.  I guess this is what George R.R. Martin feels like every time he sits down at his computer.  LOL!

Okay, Get To The Point!

When your work hits too close to home, it can be difficult to navigate through the story.  If you have a real unresolved conflict in your own life, it may be near impossible to resolve the one in your story because you can’t imagine your characters finding peace.  You know, the apology that never came, the relationship that failed, or the never ending dysfunction of a family, can really damage your perception and almost make you blind to the obvious.  I know, I had this problem and the only way to get through it was to think my way logically.  I had to know what readers or in this case society expected from this book.  I had to be God and dole out punishment and correct injustices.  This doesn’t always happen in real life.  I also sometimes have to step back and let my characters go their own way.  For example, would a man care about an argument he had with his wife as he fought space aliens?  Probably not.  You have to let your characters be who they are and come to their own conclusions.  Once I did that, their world unfolded and things began making sense again.

A Final Thought

As with most things in life, writing isn’t about you.  Sure you can create worlds and characters but once you do so, they start to develop their own reality.  Try as you may, you are not of their world and vice versa.  Only a piece of you will live on in your work, but the rest of you gets to move on and make peace with the reality that is meant to be.

Bio: Rachel Rueben is author of YA, supernatural as well as romance books.  Her work can be found her on the Cereal Authors blog as well as Wattpad.  She is also a blogger at Writing By The Seat Of My Pants where she discusses self-publishing and rarely refers to herself in the third person.  😉

Where On Earth Did Miss Mary Come From?

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Last month I shared an excerpt of my recent novel Miss Mary Mack and I’m sure some of you are really confused.  I understand after Fedelta, Miss Mary seems very different and maybe even strange but I followed the muse and she took me in a different direction. A very different direction.

Miss Mary was based on an experience I had one hot, summer’s night.  In fact it was so hot that I decided to sleep with the window open and as I was falling asleep, I heard giggling and a little girl singing, “Miss Mary Mac, Mac, Mac all dressed in black…”  At first I thought I was dreaming but it was just some silly neighborhood kids who had snuck out and were playing around at 1 a.m.  Yeah, I live in that kind of neighborhood.  When I realized what was going on, I was angry but also, inspired.  I wondered, how would these kids have survived back in the days before child abuse was considered a bad thing?  What can I say, I was having a Stephen King moment!  As my mind swirled, it was then that I saw her.  A woman, standing at the end of my bed and she was dressed in a matronly 1930’s style dress with granny boots.  As she looked down on me, I could see the scowl on her face and I knew immediately what was going on.  The muse was speaking.  So I got up and scribbled on a piece of paper the words: Miss Mary Mack and went to bed.

The next day, I did write a brief paragraph outlining the idea but did nothing with it.  At that time, I just started writing for this blog and Fedelta was born, I was also finishing up Eternal Bond, so I didn’t have the time to start yet another project.  But fate has a funny way of making you do things because over the next few months, I started hearing stories about Orphan Trains on Youtube as well as ghost stories from the Civil War.  The spark that lit the flame was a story I read about a woman by the name of Rosa Carmichael who ran an orphanage and was alleged to have abused the children in her care.  So I sat down and grudgingly wrote a few paragraphs which I finally shared last month.

I don’t have any idea as to where this story is going, but I know it’s going to lead me down paths I’ve never explored before.  Most books do.  What a lot of readers don’t know is that sometimes our stories surprise us (the writers) as much as it does them.  Actually this is the fun part of writing where characters become real, and situations uncertain.  In any case, I hope you stay tuned for the next couple of excerpts from the book because something tells me that Miss Mary is going to be one of my most challenging characters yet.

Bio: Rachel Rueben is author of YA, supernatural as well as romance books.  Her work can be found her on the Cereal Authors blog as well as Wattpad.  She is also a blogger at Writing By The Seat Of My Pants where she discusses self-publishing and rarely refers to herself in the third person.  😉

In Defense of Yet Another Vampire Novel

Let me begin by saying, I didn’t write a vampire novel because it was hot.  I wrote Eternal Bond waaay before the whole Twilight phenomenon began.  You see, Eternal Bond was my starter novel.  For those who don’t know, a starter novel is sorta like a starter house.  It’s your first and it’s where you make all your mistakes.  That’s exactly what happened with my novel.  I hadn’t written a full length novel before and got overwhelmed.

So I began writing other things, in fact, I wrote several children’s book, and a YA novel.  Eternal Bond was simply put on a CD ROM and never touched for almost 2 years.  In fact, it was almost deleted several times, for disk space but I never could do it.  I actually kept it around as a memento of my failure.  Yes, we authors can be such masochists!

Salvation

It wasn’t until I hooked up with several author groups on Facebook that I realized I wasn’t the only one who wrote weird stuff.  In fact, these people revitalized my love of writing and vampires.  Like them, I was sick of the everyday “normal” monster/vampires that were being portrayed on television and in books.  I get it’s metaphoric but I missed the good ol’ vamps who were controlled by their dark impulses.  I also wanted the gore and fright back is that so wrong?!?

I wanted my vampires to be nothing like the humans around them.  In fact, I wanted them to be so unearthly that they despised humanity and not only fed off their blood but also their inferiority.  I wanted vampires that were bigger than life and so, I went back to my starter novel and started from the very beginning.  I hacked words and rewrote the entire thing.  Actually there are several versions of the book and none of them were any good!  I think I managed to nail it on the 4th try.  Give a looksie and see for yourself here.