Tag Archives: The Writing Life

No Darcy, No Way

Darcy is Best Left to Others

Someone said to me that I should write some Pride and Prejudice fan fiction. In the past, it’s been suggested I write Colonel Brandon. My first response to both suggestions was a simple, “no way.”

While that response is harsh but accurate, I have thought about why I don’t want to even try my hand at writing Darcy or the Colonel. It comes down to having nothing new or interesting to say about the characters or their stories.

Refrain_from_writingThere are days I look at what I’m writing about Anne and Frederick and think the same thing, but at least I have a sort of visceral desire to work with them. About the casts of P&P and S&S, not so much.

Every month in the Austen fandom, there are scads of books published. The vast majority of them are using P&P as their base. I’m sure most are retelling the girl-meets-boy-boy-disdains-girl-boy-proposes-marriage-girl-rejects-boy-boy-saves-girl’s-family-and-reputation-girl-and-boy-admit-to-loving-one-another plot.

Unique stories, like Laura Hile’s Darcy by any Other Name, and Robin Helm’s various series have covered a lot of new ground that doesn’t need to be plowed again by me. There are other fine writers who absolutely love the characters and the story. That affection shows in every aspect of their writing.

At the very best, I would be day laborer working for paycheck. Not that writing for pay is bad. I firmly believe that some of the best writing (and music, visual art, etc) has been done by people putting food on the table, not looking to leave a legacy of amazing prose. The difference is that in fandom, the love of characters is baked into the foundation of the work. Without it, the foundation is wonky at best. And let’s face it, there have been times you’ve read a book that is merely a word count with a cover and a dedication. Did you think well of the author? Race to Amazon to see if they had more of the same? My point exactly.

Darcy is an icon and I have no desire to mess with him. Brandon is an interesting character I prefer to read rather than write. Long story shortened, I won’t be writing any P&P, or S&S fics anytime soon. No heart for the subjects, and no desire to bore you all to tears.


There’s an app for that…


Who knew the coffee house vibe was so productive?

Many creatives swear by the coffee house vibe. I can see why. Photo: Wonderlane (Creative Commons Flickr)

Ah, the hum of the coffee house. For me, it’s an inexpensive place to chat with a friend. For others, this atmosphere offers a lifeline to creativity.

There’s a special combination: The upbeat music, the muted conversations, the hiss of the espresso machine–ha! and the caffeine. It’s a synergistic thing that gets many people working, writing, thinking, and doing. Me, I go there to talk for hours. And I come home smelling like coffee grounds.

Not walking two miles to Starbucks

No! Not walking those two miles to Starbucks! It’s 90 degrees today!

Home’s the best workplace for people like me.  See, I work on the cheap. I make coffee here–already paid for– and get the laptop up and running. Then I start in. These days I’m sharing a car–our latest experiment. To go to a coffee house, I’d have to drive my husband to and from work, or else walk to Starbucks–a mile each way–toting my not-so-small laptop. The hike home is all uphill. Uh, no.

So I fake the coffee house vibe with apps. My  fondness for mental wandering needs help to stay focused. One app I use is a pomodoro-type timer called Clear Focus. It keeps me on task for 25 minutes at a time–no backtracking, no stopping. No Facebooking or Tweetiing. It’s amazing how much I can accomplish when I stay at it.

And then there’s CoffitivityThis is a white noise app that mimics the atmosphere of the coffee house. I originally downloaded this for use on the train, because conversations around me can be distracting. This week I’ve been using it for the creative sound vibes. They help!

Tools of the trade: calendar, Kindle text, laptop

Tools of the trade: strict calendar goals, Kindle text, laptop

The Mercy’s Embrace re-release is a giant project, and I’m running for daylight. Proofreading is something I can do during the school year, but typing?  Rather than hire a firm I’ve decided to type out the text from the Kindle edition of my books. Another real life illustration that you need to back up your back-up files–because you never know.

No whining from me! This project is an excellent opportunity to make good writing even better. Honest. I’m loving it.

And hey, it’s still summer. For Robin and Gayle, Monday, August 15th, is the first day back in the classroom. A sobering reminder that the school year, it is a-coming.

Laura Hile (1)

Steep Learning Curve for a Scaredy-Cat

A scaredy cat...like me! Photo: Diana Parkhouse (Creative Commons Flickr)

A Scaredy-Cat in Deadline Mode. “No, no, make it stop!” (Photo: Diana Parkhouse, Creative Commons Flickr)

A cat has lots of lives. Even a Scaredy-Cat like me.

It’s been quite a year for this cat. I’ve used up a few lives. Good thing that by God’s grace I have so many!

It’s been a year for Mom, too. Other people have health issues, not us. We bounce back from anything, well… until now. This year we’ve struggled with the same kidney issues. Who’d a thought? It’s almost laughable.

Also a scaredy-cat (Domino), this time in Avoidance Mode (Photo: Ben Lyons)

A Scaredy-Cat in Avoidance Mode. “No worries, Mate, I’ve got this!”  (Photo: Ben Lyons)

I hit the skids in April, bouncing back by summer. Mom had her turn in November and again in January. These days she’s home, happily puttering toward better health.

Now it’s my turn to swing on the health trapeze. Another (arthroscopic) kidney surgery is set for Tuesday, after rounds of antibiotic and antifungal medication. Sigh. Who knew something so small would make me feel so blah?

Anyway, here I am, being a Scaredy-Cat. Not about the surgery. It’s a minimally invasive day surgery, the same thing I’ve had three times before. I don’t even bother with the pain meds.

Here is the Scaredy-Cat in Teacher Mode. I am Queen, defy me at your peril! (Photo: Ben Lyons)

And here’s the Scaredy-Cat in Despot Teacher Mode. “I am Queen.”(Photo: Ben Lyons)

No, it’s the book thing. Not going under anesthesia with the novel unfinished, not again. So after school tomorrow I’m loading the manuscript. The book won’t be released until the print cover art is finalized, but the interior is done. Finally, yay.

I guess you could say that  I’ve been “puttering toward publication.” Puttering, now that’s an unusual “cat” concept. Producing a book is more like a marathon.

Do cats run marathons? Nope. We sprint madly, and then we lie around.

Ha, do cats teach school? Yes, but only in Despot Mode. (“Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair.”) Then we come home and lie around.

When the book is released, I’ll let you know. Around here there will be lots of purring. And teaching school. And then lying around. Until April’s Camp NaNo, when it will be time to start working on the next novel.

UPDATE: Another infection, another round of antibiotics. The good news is that Tuesday’s surgery is set to happen during spring break. My poor marked-up calendar. 🙂

Laura Hile (1)