When a story won’t let go

I’ve been writing off an on for 22 years now. I will say my writing has improved a lot! That first novel I finished – the trash can cringed in horror. But over time, rereading my own work then reading a cherished novel by one of my favorite authors and comparing the two helped me to edit to what I considered to be the best it could be. Problem is, my inner editor never turns off!

When I say I’ve been writing for so long, it’s not to brag. I really fell into writing as a way to cope with trauma and the after-effects of trauma. I don’t talk about my mental illness much. Not much new to say about it. It’s mental. But I can say there are times when a story just won’t let go.

The first book I wrote occurred to me as a story line fifteen years before I actually wrote it. Joanna was that book and while it was always intended to be a one and done, guy gets the girl, world goes back to normal romance, Joanna had other ideas. Yep. Still figuring out book 8.

I don’t watch a lot of TV. I tend to watch old series I know I enjoyed before. (I’ll catch up on WandaVision in a couple of years, after the hype has died down.) Story is the same. I have the favorite story lines I like to explore but lately I’ve been watching a lot of MidSummer Murder. There are 22 seasons encompassed by three different viewing apps. I used to sleep to Midsummer Murder when I was caring for my Dad. That means all the episodes are new to me! I like to watch the same ones over and over. Vera is a huge favorite and I’ve seen all the existing episodes some five or more times. I like how they stay the same, comforting me that the story doesn’t change, not even if I’m having a bad day. So for me, story is important. I built most of my trauma work on story. If I could put it all down in a story then I could make something good out of it, no matter how bad I felt that particular day.

Romance. Space opera. Christian Fiction. Those are my favs so when a murder mystery started stirring in my mind, I was cautious. I’ve never written one before and I know writing a good murder mystery can be challenging. First, you have to make it hard to guess who done it. Oddly enough, that’s the second thing I got, was the who done it. The first thing was the investigator. I get my story lines in various ways but most of this came from half asleep, half awake dream segments.

I dismissed this story at first as not really being my thing. I could post it on a forum or something and just give it away to someone who can do it better. But though I continued to think giving it away would be best, the story won’t leave me alone. It is building itself in my mind so the only thing to do is to write it out. Seven pages so far. Set on a space station orbiting a planet featuring in the Machine Planet series, I’m not sure where it’s going, but I recognize trauma fiction when I see it.

That’s what I’d call it. When I was upset or having a really difficult time, I’d start to pour my mixed emotions and confusion and anger into prose and create what I called trauma fiction. Sometimes I’d borrow characters from other stories already published and write fan fiction. Machine Planet was born that way and I really enjoyed the companionship of those characters while I was caring for my mother during her vascular dementia. This murder mystery is different. This murder mystery is a mystery even to me. I know who done it. I know what evil they did and why. I even know the history of the man who will solve the crime. The best part, the absolute best part comes as I walk through the story with the characters, discovering the story for myself. Editing creates the plot and substories. Editing makes things get in line and behave. But for now, I just get to have fun and write!

At the same time, I’m also proofing Dorian 1 and considering Dorian 2 while also trying to conceptualize three book covers! I am so privileged that I get to have this much fun!

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