When the Iron is Hot…

Rhine Heidelberg house among TreesWhen a new story idea strikes, I respond in one of four ways. ONE: I’ll drop everything and work on the new idea. TWO: I’ll jot the ideas in my moleskine for future reference. THREE: I’ll take a one day break, retreat to a garden setting, create a Beat Sheet, and file for later use (think NaNoWriMo 2014). FOUR: I’ll let my mind drift and let the story unfurl. Never write it down. Treasure it as a gift and then set it free.

Rhine Balcony with geraniumsI love new ideas. New stories are shiny compared to that manuscript going through Revision 144. New stories smell of promise, rose petals, and newly turned earth. Yesterday I thought: I should write a Vampire Romance. This morning I woke with an idea. An excellent idea. Anything else I could do today would pale in comparison with working on this truly stupendous idea. I should drop everything–like editing Chapter 16 of the third Abishag Novel and writing down design ideas for my Abishag cover artist–and work on this story.

Rhine Amber windowThe rain comes down in torrents, perfect for letting seeds germinate. I could write the vampire story in unreadable notes in my moleskine, let the molten words flow onto the pages. Her hair is dark like her father’s. He speaks with a slight foreign accent. A scent from her childhood brings back a memory of hiding in shadows and her mother’s murder. I’ll get back to these notes eventually, after the third and fourth Abishag books are published, while beta readers are reviewing the first Missing Child Mystery Jack Fell Down, during the formatting of Fathers in the Moor, and when I finish restructuring Olive Tomorrow. Even if it’s too wet to retreat, I could write the beat sheet today while drinking hot chocolate and listening to the rain while snug in my home. Better than moleskine notes, it would be organized, legible, and outlined from beginning to end.

Door with large hingesOr I could lie in bed and watch the story un-scroll. Forget the Netflix DVD on tap tonight. I’d let this story surprise and delight till I drift off. When I wake tomorrow, the story will be gone, but I will remember it as perfect, untrammeled, and sweet.

I promised a friend that I would be disciplined this Saturday and revise two chapters in Riddle in Bones before starting the beat sheet for the vampire romance. Don’t tell her that I looked through old Rhine pictures for my new vampire series and wrote this blog instead.

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About mlknowlden

In 2011, I left engineering to write full-time. Between the years 1992 and 2011, I’ve published 14 stories with Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine that have featured the hypochondriac detective Micky Cardex and two stories that did not. The 1998 story “No, Thank You, John” was nominated for a Shamus award. Many of these stories have been included in anthologies and translated in multiple languages. With Neal Shusterman, I’ve also published a science fiction story for the More Amazing Stories anthology (Tor) published in 1998 and co-authored with Neal Shusterman an X-Files Young Adult novel (DARK MATTER) for HarperCollins in 1999 under the name Easton Royce. For Simon & Schuster in July 2012, we published an e-novella UNSTRUNG in Neal's UNWIND world. I have graduate degrees in English and Electrical Engineering.
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8 Responses to When the Iron is Hot…

  1. dayya says:

    What a wonderful post! I so understand about the allure of new ideas. Reminds me of my shiny new female werewolf novel. Now look what you’ve done! I may snuggle into my armchair with a cup of coffee and write story notes which I hope will yield the beat sheet. Never mind that I need to work on Sleight of Hand today. d:)

    • mlknowlden says:

      Thanks, Debra! I hope you did work on the new idea. I hear my mantra whimpering in the background: Opportunity or Distraction? On my day of rest, my brain did some world building in the shiny one.

  2. Kaye Klem says:

    Michelle, I envy the many ideas you have for new stories! And the cozy refuge you’ve taken to contemplate them…

  3. employeelaw says:

    Michelle, you’re a national treasure. Seems some folks must find creative ways to manage their fertile imaginations. Keep the stories coming!

  4. Rebecca Lang says:

    Writing a new story instead of the one you’re supposed to be working on is the sweetest form of procrastination there is. 🙂 The glimmers of your vampire romance do intrigue me. Hope you still have time to finish Abishag # 3, though.

    • mlknowlden says:

      Thank you for the encouragement, Rebecca. A few minutes ago, I finished another draft of the third Abishag. I plan to send it to my beta readers tomorrow. I may take a few days of world-building for the vampire romance before tackling the beta comments.

      I do like the sweetest form of procrastination!

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