Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Achoo! -- Robin

I’ve been sick at home this week with some sort of head cold that seems to be morphing into some sort of plague. Have you all come down with this one yet? Just when you think you’re getting better, it shifts into fifth-gear and says, “Nuh-uh, we’re just getting started!” I am officially calling this year’s cold The Evil One. It makes me want to take my head off…like Calvin:

Yesterday, I sat around the house all day, unable to go into work. I was hoping to spend some of that down time working on my manuscript, but every time I looked at the words, they got blurry and my head felt like it was going to explode.

So instead, I spent my day watching The E! True Hollywood Story. (But I did take a break to watch an infomercial for Hip Hop Abs!) I am so addicted to T.H.S., and I suddenly realized why. There is no reason on earth for me to suddenly love Jennifer Lopez, but once I heard her back story, I couldn’t help but love her! (Even though the whole Bennifer thing was super annoying.) But knowing her struggles growing up and how she persevered and stuck with her dreams, I couldn’t help but get inspired!

And that reminded me why back story is so important in my own manuscript. So instead of writing, I spent some time thinking about my character. Why do I love her? Why should the reader love her? What in her life motivates her to act the way she does? And most importantly, when she accomplishes her goal, will she be covered head-to-toe in bling!?

Even though I didn’t get any writing done, I got some thinking done…which is quite an accomplishment under the influence of TheraFlu!

- Robin

Mermaid Sightings: If you happen to be in San Luis Obispo this Saturday, swing by Barnes & Noble at 6pm. Jay will be discussing and signing copies of Thirteen Reasons Why. Need two more reasons to stop by? Okay. Eve and I will be there, too!


Lisa Marnell said...

Hi Robin,

Cool post!

Same thing happened to me yesterday - in a way. A very nice teacher I work with in the San Fernando valley basically shared her backstory with me, and it helped me to understand her in a different light.

She explained her dad was a fireman when she was growing up and he was a rather gruff, distant, strong silent type. When this teacher friend was sixteen, she found out her dad had started a group that helps people rebuild their homes through recruiting volunteers to give up weekend time and work. She was SHOCKED. Who knew? His actions of silently helping people in need led her to become a Special Education teacher and work with children with autism.

In a way it completed this "character" for me. I get her on a different level.

Aren't we writers odd? When did people in our lives become characters? It's all very interesting!


Katie said...

Robin - this is a great post! And a cool way to come to this revelation - by watching THS...

I'm gonna ponder this. Hope you feel better.

Disco Mermaids said...

Hi, Lisa. I love that story. And, yes, I do tend to look at people in my life as "characters." (Especially people I work with!!) But I think teachers are a great source for characters because it's always intriguing to find out *why* they went into teaching as a profession. Especially the ones who were in the private sector first and then decided to become teachers later in life. Interesting stuff!

And hi, Katie!! Yes, I'm embarrassed that I get my deep, thoughtful revelations from the E! channel. Thanks for hoping I'll feel better...I need some well-wishing, cuz I'm still sick!! This evil cold has moved into the "cough up a lung" phase. (Sorry, too much information?)

Anonymous said...

Good afternoon Jay,

My name is Karla and I am a high school teacher in Michigan. Your book was highly recommended to me at a conference I attended. From the minute I picked it up I could not put it down. It was fantastic! I have several colleagues and students reading it now. My question is, do you ever come to Michigan to speak about the book? I am pushing others to read it because I would like it to be a part of our curriculum. If you could please email me and let me know I would REALLY appreciate it. My email address is Thank you.

Disco Mermaids said...

Yo, Ro-Mo!

So sorry you are sick. And I'm addicted to the ETHS too! Even when I'm not sick.

Funny where we writers end up finding inspiration. I had the same experience with the Christina Aguilera ETHS. That chick worked HARD to get where she is today. Gives me hope that hard work will pay off someday.

The thing Lisa said about characters and backstory is so true. Most of my book characters have backstory elements from people I've met throughout my life. Somehow, it makes them feel more "real" to me.

Get better so we can play!

Eve :)

lkmadigan said...


I just called mine the Terrible Morphing Cold today.

When I was home last week, I watched DO THE RIGHT THING, by Spike Lee.

The writing lesson I took away from it was that characters who are neither good nor bad are EXCELLENT.

Yee-Lum said...

I think a little bit of everyone around us creeps into our characters. That's what makes a good character: someone real enough and enough like us for readers to relate to, and unique enough to seem like a new person. Good writers have to be good observers (without seeming like creepy stalkers; Lesson 14 for aspiring authors).

Actually, at my school, it was this strange thing that had different symptoms for every person. It was probably the same germ, because one person coughed and everyone had it the next day, but I had an annoyingly persistent cough, bad headaches, and I ended up with pinkeye at the end of it, and one of my friends didn't cough but lost her voice for a couple of days. Some other people just had really horrid coughs. It was very odd.

Colorado Writer said...

The thing you have is morphing into pinkeye in these parts. Thankfully, no one in my house has it. Knock on wood.

Interesting stuff!

krw3b said...

Oh, we all had The Evil One out in Chi-town, too. You get a cold and in a few days you think, Ok that was the worst of it. I'm feeling pretty good today.

And then you wake up and find you've been beaten with a 2x4.

I hope you're feling better soon.