I had a few different ideas for how I would start the first chapter. All of them came back to the same location, even if different events happened in these different scenarios. I decided to go with my original idea, if only tweaked a bit.
For everything else, I had the big ideas cemented in place. The larger-than-life emotions, the extravagance, the explosiveness. That was easy.
The hardest part -- and I didn't figure this out until this week -- was the rest of it.
I thought that I would take care of the rest on the way. It would figure itself out. I wouldn't need to spend any significant time fleshing these things out, or so I convinced myself. That wasn't exactly true, though. I don't need to micromanage and come up with every single thing. No, that's not what I mean. I simply needed a general idea for what these things will become.
I had no idea before. I had a giant gap that I expected to fill itself by magic.
I had no such magic. So I hesitated to start writing until last night, once I really knew what this was about.
Listening to the song in this video on repeat, I wrote the first couple of pages with a real ease I haven't felt in a long time, if ever.
I finished watching Orange is the New Black on Netflix, last night. I had honestly forgotten about it, and didn't really care to watch this final season, since season six was so terrible. But for the sake of finishing a show that I've been with for so many years, I went ahead and watched the final season. I appreciate that the writers kept a better balance between the dramedy and the social commentary...especially since a lot of it is relevant to what's going on today. Overall, everything was better than season six, even though I had forgotten my investment in most of the characters.
What resonated with me was the ordinary. The mundane. The things, the little experiences we have with people, in friendships/relationships. The time.
I had forgotten what it means to spend time with someone.
When I realized this, I was upset -- I still am -- but everything for this manuscript fell into place. That's what matters, and yet:
I started watching this show because of Alex and Piper, because their fucked up relationship reminded me of my own at the time. I don't have much in common with Piper. It's Alex that kept reminding me of my ex from back then: her edge, her intelligence, her reasons for her distance and her need to be in control, all of it. Her constant push-and-pull with Piper was what I kept coming back to. Back then, I needed answers for why I had a similar emotional roller coaster of a relationship, and always had. Back then, I thought that watching these two would help me figure things out. Back then, I thought that I could keep lying to myself and have what I didn't need.
Those annoyances and pains and inconveniences, big and small, that Alex and Piper deal with. The imperfections of being with another person. The romance of someone else's uncertain company that you want to believe is certain.
I mention these things in the first Anathema as I float right above them.
My characters can't grow properly unless I come back down to earth for them and write this, the right way, no matter how much it hurts.
It hurts now because of how real it feels, because I'm not above those things anymore.
This, in turn, ended up darkening the romance and erotica atmosphere that I had intended for. I had planned on erotic romance with a dark edge. I had not planned for a full-on, deep dive into these raw fucking emotions, pun intended. I hadn't planned on this because I thought I was done with it. I thought that I had left it behind -- and I had, with other people, yes. I let those things go. I had moved on from the past, yet I felt empty without those feelings. But now they're back, with Stella and Solaire, and I don't know how to handle it. All I can do is write it out, coherently, with style and with meaning.
So now, for me, this second Anathema is twice as real, thrice as painful, and four times more frightening than the first book.
If this is going to be my best work, then I can't and won't settle for anything less.