Friday, November 14, 2014

You Say You Want an Evolution


For the last couple of weeks, I’ve mostly been working on “Baby, it’s Cold,” my story for the Comfort and Joy holiday anthology I’m doing with LB Gregg, Harper Fox and Joanna Chambers. As much as I love writing Christmas stories, it’s been slow going.


Partly it’s slow going because there’s so much going on right now in my non-writing life, but part of it is simply that I was trying to force an idea that wasn’t quite right.


Ideas come to me in bits and pieces. A particular character, a particular dilemma, a certain relationship dynamic…but sometimes not even that much. Sometimes the spark is just a scene or the way a song makes me feel. I’m not sure you can really analyze the creative drive -- or maybe what I mean is, the analysis can drain the magic out of the flash of inspiration.


I got the idea for “Baby, it’s Cold” from a brief article I read about hiring a chef for the holidays. I thought that would be a very fun thing -- although the idea of a professional chef trying to make sense of my kitchen? Madness. But fiction isn’t reality.


Initially the idea seemed straightforward. Someone would hire a chef for the holidays. I could picture my chef: tough, tattooed, pierced…not your normal TV chef. Did he maybe have a prison record? Hmm. Rocky. Yes, I would name him Rocky.


So who would hire Rocky? Someone with money, obviously. Someone throwing a party? And what would their conflict be?


This was the problem. Jesse would hire Rocky. I knew what Jesse looked like because he was inspired by Johanna Ollila’s cover art months ago. But though I knew what Jesse looked like…I had no sense of Jesse. Why was he hiring a chef? And how would this tie into the anthology theme of being housebound for the holidays?


I decided that Jesse worked for an actor who was throwing a Christmas Eve party. Jesse was organizing everything because he was this actor’s PA, but at one time they had been lovers…


Hmm. That just might...no.

Already I could feel it starting to go off the rails. But I persisted. So…Jesse was still working for this selfish asshole actor because…because…he had written a script and this guy was going to produce it so he could star in it and that would be Jesse’s big break so he was putting up with the indignity of staying on and working for his ex.


Okay. And Jesse was coming down with a cold so he would be sort of feverish and acting out of character.


Ugh.


Convoluted. Artificial. Book people with book dilemmas.


So a week went by and I kept trying to imagine the dialog but it Just. Wasn’t. Happening.


I didn’t like Jesse continuing to work for this jerk who was using him, and I couldn’t see what the attraction would be for Rocky. And why would a snooty actor -- or his wishy-washy PA -- hire someone as street as Rocky?


Another week.


I turned to the research. What would Rocky cook? Maybe that would give me a hint.


Well, heck. Rocky could cook anything, that wasn’t terribly interesting.


No, what would be interesting would be trying to cook for someone like Rocky. Because Rocky was a perfectionist, critical, a bit arrogant. And if the scrambled eggs weren't right, he'd tell you.


And all at once I had it. Jesse turns up at Rocky’s hideaway cabin to cook a romantic Christmas Eve dinner for two. Except Rocky isn’t expecting Jesse because he and Jesse aren’t together anymore. And Jesse can’t cook. And Rocky’s current boyfriend also shows up...


I like it. It's funny. Nutty in a romantic comedy kind of way. There's natural conflict. The idea has evolved, changed, and now we just might have a story. I'll keep you posted.








   


  

49 comments:

  1. Oooooo I like it! Can't wait to "see" where you went with this :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Carey. (I can't wait to see where I'm going too.) ;-D

      Delete
  2. And then what happens??!?... ;-) I love nutty romantic comedies! And i'm glad you like it - if you enjoy it, we'll enjoy it. Wishing you happy and fun writing! But also, enjoy the weekend! That's very important too! :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This one is pretty nutty! But it's fun.

      Delete
  3. Heh. Your struggle wasn't for nothing — at least this reader is already dying to know what happens at that hideaway cabin. :-)

    It sounds like there will be sparks in the air... and maybe not only form the oven. :-D I can't wait to meet Jesse and Rocky!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Johanna. I'm making myself hungry writing this thing. :-D

      Delete
  4. Looking forward to this one so much! Plus the other three stories! And I love the cover so hard.

    ReplyDelete
  5. That was a fascinating glimpse into your creative process. Sounds like you ended up with a winning idea. I look forward to the anthology.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thanks for giving us a glimpse inside your creative mind, Josh. It is fascinating to realize you "struggle" with what eventually becomes the end result. Because what we see always feels like it was meant to be. Looking forward to the final evolution! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's funny how much thinking has to go on before the writing can even begin.

      Delete
  7. I am so easy, I want read this story naturally at once. :-) I wish you a terrific weekend and think a little bit more what all could happen in this cabin!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have a scratchy throat today and I hope I am not planning for art to imitate life!

      Delete
  8. Oh your thought process is priceless �� Looking forward to this couple

    ReplyDelete
  9. I wanted say, that I think over the cabin inhabitants. :-) My English has a free day today.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Well dang. You just summed up in 278 words why you are the writer and I am the reader...and if I do write, it's about a cat! So uncomplicated, cats...and there's another reason right there why you are the writer and I am the reader.
    Looking forward to the stories...is this going to be one of those stories where halfway through I ask "where's the dead body?"
    Have a great weekend and happy writing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No mystery. Just a goofy, simple little holiday story. :-D

      Delete
  11. Aaaaah, so many questions left unanswered...
    *Why did Rocky and Jesse split up?
    *Why is Jesse trying to get back together again?
    *Does he really want that? Or is there another motive in play?
    *Who is the new guy?
    *Does he get to have a happy end too?
    *Or what if Jesse ends up liking him better than Rocky? *shocking*
    *...

    You're a tease and you know it. (and I mean that in the best way^^)

    Have fun writing and at the mystery convention weekend getaway! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am a tease! That's my job. To hook the reader and then sloowwwwly reel him and her in. ;-)

      Delete
  12. Sounds funny and awarked looking forward to reading it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope so. Funny and awkward is exactly what I'm shooting for.

      Delete
  13. So happy to see you are human after all, Josh, haha. Oops. Well, don't know why, 'cabin' reminds me strongly of the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Maybe it's because that girl's only happy time was there, sadly with a man who did not know how to love. I'm sure Rocky and Jesse will have a much happier ending. Can't wait to read it.

    Savanna

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, this will be much less violent. I hope!!! :-D

      Delete
  14. This anthology is one of the highlights keeping me going towards winter, because I love all the authors. And now I've even more anticipation! It's so interesting to see how your ideas evolve into the final version.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think it's going to be a very fun mix and match of stories. I've read Joanna's and Harpers and they are delicious.

      Delete
  15. Replies
    1. If Rocky is really a terrible cook, perhaps he would cook something with just a few ingredients. http://allrecipes.com/recipes/everyday-cooking/more-meal-ideas/5-ingredient-recipes/

      Delete
    2. Oh that would be TOO easy. :-D

      Delete
  16. I love this idea...it sounds thoroughly modern, yet it could be a plot from one of my favorite "madcap" movie comedies from the 1940's. I'm really looking forward to reading!

    ReplyDelete
  17. Well, I don’t know whether to be happy or indignant for you. It sounds like a writer for Castle may have read a certain Adrien English Mystery (trying to avoid spoilers), after that cause of death scene. I’ll just assume it’s that scenario of great minds thinking alike and continue being absorbed in Fair Play. Every time I find myself walking away from the television to read a book it’s for a short list of authors with your name among them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh? Well, there are no new ideas -- only fresh execution.

      Delete
  18. Looking forward to the anthology as I love holiday stories--I try to indulge in 1 new holiday book, 1 DVD, and 1 CD during the season and the anthology will make 2 out of 3 (what Christmas movie this year, hmmm....). Of course if you were living in the Midwest, you'd be housebound because it's frickin' cold and snowy. There's just something wrong about that since it's not even Thanksgiving yet. And why does no one seem to write Thanksgiving Day stories? If any holiday needed a chef in the kitchen ,it's that one :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's a great idea about Thanksgiving stories. I'm very partial to Thanksgiving as a matter of fact!

      Delete
  19. Everyone has their own process when they create. What works for you sort of works for me, but I do... whatever instead of how you....

    Me, I pretty much sit down and write. I have an idea of who, where, and why, and where I'd like them to end up. The process is informed by how I feel, the weather, time of year, what's on the stereo (usually Cole Porter and the Great American Songbook or New Wave), and how much the last round of household chores makes me want to run away and live in a hotel forever.

    Holiday stories don't have to be about the Holidays. They can be about any holiday. Spring break- who doesn't need one of those after a long winter, no matter what your age is? I met the love of my life at a Pride Parade. In Chicago, Pride weekend is a serious holiday from reality. Just as long as you keep writing and making sure there is audio for the stories at some point since you got me addicted to audio books.

    Mike Martinez-

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's true. I'm also really partial to Halloween stories, and Halloween is not an official holiday for most of us.

      Delete
    2. I feel like Halloween could hold its own in inspiring collections.
      But there are some second-string "Holidays" that I really get a kick out of imaging being turned into stories.

      Who isn't already swept up in all the passion and romance of National Donut Day, Daylight Savings Time and Dental Hygiene Month? (The stories nearly write themselves!) :D

      Delete
    3. Yes! In fact today is World Hello Day! So how appropriate is your comment? :-D I tell you, there is a pattern to these things!

      Delete
  20. I want to know what happens next with Jesse, Rocky and his current boyfriend ...who was a selfish asshole actor, you said? ;)
    I really can't wait to read this. When is it published?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think I've completely done away with the asshole actor. :-)

      Delete
  21. Sounds like a perfect Christmas story!!

    ReplyDelete
  22. This sounds like a great story! I can't wait to read it. And thanks for sharing your process/progress to reaching a plot that grabs you.
    These are the best stories. They unfold in front of you and they tell you what's going to happen. :)

    ReplyDelete