That first blank page

Staring at that first blank page, wondering what the hell you’re going to write about, has to be the most daunting starting line for any author.

Five years ago I re-entered the corporate workforce. I had been a successful independent marketing and communications consultant, but thanks to the downturn in the economy my entire client-base disappeared. I had resigned myself to killing my creative side and focusing on the greater good of a regular paycheck.

Realizing how unhappy this would make me, my better-half suggested that I write a book.

“Why the hell not? Everyone tells me how funny I am and how I tell a great story. How hard could it be?” He said to me.

Yeah….. WTF…

So there I sat, in my newly created “author’s” office, with just the right amount of Arts & Crafts furniture, a few items that have sentimental value for me that would hopefully spark some sort of story. I carefully placed a picture of my mother, who had passed away when I was 21, to watch over me. I was set. Off I went.

And that damn blank page stared back at me. The cursor blinking at me and I was sure it was doing it in a taunting way. Like it was saying, “I friggin dare you to type one word.” So I did exactly that. I typed the word, “word”. I quickly deleted it.

I sat there for about 10 minutes, mulling things in my mind and decided the problem was hunger. I needed to make a sandwich. 10 minutes later, I returned, sandwich in hand and decided…well I couldn’t write and eat a sandwich at the same time, so I began going to my usual cyber haunts like CNN.com and Washingtonpost.com, getting caught up on my politics.

And then the spark hit me and I began to type. It was good. I was sure of it. I was working on the next, great American novel. Move over J.K. Rowling, I was the new sheriff in town. After I had written several pages I stopped and sat back satisfied. This writing stuff wasn’t so hard and to prove it, I would reread what I had just created and allow myself to be amazed at my brilliance.

I had written the start of a story, about a little girl, alone in her room, at night. She was startled awake by a huge crack of lighting and thunder, she had a premonition that her father was going to die.

It sounded familiar…way too familiar…. It was stormy… at night…. Shit! I had just written my own version of “It was a dark and stormy night…” Perfect. I tore up the printed copies of my “masterpiece”, shut my computer down and walked out of the room. It took me a month to return to my “author’s” office when inspiration struck me in the form of Muse Unexpected.

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Introducing Grace

Staying on the theme of people making suggestions after they say, “Oh! So you’re writing a book!! Have you thought about writing about…”

It’s the ultimate joy for any aspiring author. But what do you do when a suggestion is made so ridiculous, but the person offering it isn’t someone you can say no to?

Allow me to introduce you to my niece Grace. I love my niece so much that I based my main character in Muse Unexpected on her. So considering I’ve been pulling a Truman Capote on her by documenting the comical yet sometimes volatile relationship she has with her mother, Christine. She knew this and shamelessly used that fact and a ton of guilt to get her way. The conversation went like this:

Grace: You need to have a crab in the book.

VC: A crab? Like one of the characters eating crab?

Grace: No… The crab has to be Sophie’s best friend.

VC: (I can see where this is going and I’m a deer caught in the headlights of a truck) Oh… you mean like a hermit crab that she would keep in a fish bowl sort of thing.

Grace: No. the crab has to be her best friend and it can talk.

VC: You want it to talk. A talking crab? Like on little mermaid?

Grace: Yes. Except his name isn’t Bastian.

VC: You mean Sebastian.

Grace: Whatever. I want his name to be…….. let me think.

VC: I can hardly wait to find out what you want to name it.

Grace: I want you to call it, Señor Chi-Chi.

VC: So not only can the crab talk, but it appears to be from Latin America? Does it wear a sombrero ? (As soon as the words left my mouth, I knew I was in deep.)

Grace: No. He’s a classy crab. He wears a top hat and a monocle ?

VC: Grace, I can’t write that in. It’s too much.

Grace: Please… if the character is based on me, then I should have what I want and what I want is a talking crab.

VC: Your uncle put you up to this…didn’t he?

Grace: Well, I like the priest with the eye patch idea.

VC: All right. I’ll figure out a way. Just as soon as I dispose of your uncle’s body.

I’ve got a great idea for your book

Part of the goal of this blog is to not only share the journey of Muse Unexpected going through the publishing process, but to also share what led up to this journey, secrets on the next book in the Muse series and to provide any insights that might help up-and-coming authors work their way through the “getting published” process. (Keeping in mind I’m very much a fledgling myself, so we can learn together.)

One funny story I wanted to share deals with the suggestions I’ve received from various people, both drunk and sober, once they found out I was writing a book. One in particular I hope you’ll find funny.

I was sitting with an individual, who will remain nameless because they know who they are, when the topic of my writing a book came up. The person began, unasked, to brainstorm on ideas of what I should include in my novel.

The more the person went through ideas, the stronger they felt I HAD to include their idea in my book. Their idea was the following:

And I quote:

Friend: You have to have a priest in it.

VC: Well, there is a scene in the book that takes place at a funeral.

Friend: But this has to be a special priest. He has an eye patch.

VC: Why does the priest have an eye patch?

Friend: (Ignoring my question) And his hobby is ventriloquism.

VC: (Right about now I began to feel I’ve invested too much falling down this rabbit hole and have to find out the full back story of the priest who loves ventriloquism.) Does he have any hobbies?

Friend: Well… wait…I’ve got it… How about (he starts to laugh) How about he also likes to sell cheese trays at funerals.

VC: Cheese Trays…?

Friend: Yep. Big, over the top cheese trays.

VC: But getting back to my one question…why does the priest have an eye patch?

Friend: Because of the Havarti cheese.

VC: The Havarti cheese? What does the Havarti cheese got to do with the reason why the priest wears an eye patch.

Friend: Well, his ventriloquist dummy doesn’t like Havarti cheese, and they got in a fight and the dummy won.

VC: So the cheese trays don’t have Havarti cheese?

Friend: Right! Isn’t it brilliant?

VC: I think I’ll pass on this one.

Friend: How about it isn’t a dummy, but a parrot.

VC: Let me get you another beer.

Feel free to share any of your suggestion stories. Would love to hear them. LOL!

– V.C.

Hello and Welcome!

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Hi everyone and welcome! Join me on the journey of a lifetime as my book, Muse Unexpected, goes through the publishing process. Visit this blog, my website http://www.vcbirlidis.com or my facebook page for updates, event/ book signing dates and giveaways. 

Please remember to spread the word about me and Muse Unexpected. Thanks again for visiting!- VC

 

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Camera
Canon EOS 40D
Focal Length
85mm
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f/1.8
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1/350s
ISO
400