I start every scene with a plan in mind, and occasionally the characters behave, and the plan in mind becomes the scene on paper. But more often, I discover something I didn’t realize about one of the characters, or an interaction doesn’t play out with the particular type of feeling I thought it would, and the scene starts to go off course, and I have to chase after it, and pages get written and then crossed out, and I can’t figure out what needs to happen, and I begin to get Extremely Grumpy and mope around under a storm cloud.
Happily, I’m at my parents’ house right now, which means that a cat named Lickety comes by rather often to commiserate. Well, really, she comes by because she wants to make herself the center of my world and be petted forever. I was lying on the couch the other day in artistic despair when Lickety jumped up and threw herself against my hand, which only ever means one thing.
Me: [not petting her] Lickety, how come this relationship is so one-sided? I rub your ears, but when do you ever rub mine?
Lickety: [goes down to the other end of the couch and sits on my foot, usually the cue for me to scratch her with my toes]
Me: I’m not going to pet you. I’ve got nothing left to give.
Lickety: [walks up the length of the couch and throws herself against my face]
Me: No! Not petting you! I’m the one who needs comfort! [sneezes and splutters]
Lickety: [lies on my stomach, one eye closed, the other trained on me (feline eyeball hypnosis)]
Me: [with great pathos] O, Lickety, why does writing have to be so hard?
Lickety: [stabs me with all her claws at once]
“Oh, you stupid cat,” I say, laughing, and then I pet the stupid cat.
At least if my goal is to please the cat, success is easy.
How is your work going?