More Therapy

I didn’t intend a “part two” with my last post, but after reviewing the comments and continuing to mull the reflections that caused me to post “part one,” I decided to plunge ahead.

My current WIP is Past Ties. I do not think of it as my first book, although I wrote it in college, considered it finished and set it aside because that’s what I did with things back then.

That’s not entirely true. Before I set it aside, I took the completed mss to my father’s graveside on the seventh anniversary of his death and read it aloud. This alone should have clued me in to the fact that it’s too short to be a “real” book (not quite 38K words).

TT: My dad isn’t in that graveyard. I have never before and never since visited him there. If I want to talk to my dad, I ask Jesus to carry the message. If I want to put flowers on his grave to honor his memory, I go to the cemetery.

That anniversary seemed special, and I wanted to honor it in some way. I chose to do so by reading my first book to the only audience I could handle at the time – one that couldn’t talk back.

I’ve joked that Past Ties was inspired by three completely unrelated (except possibly for their “B” value) movies. Past Ties was also inspired by my parents’ nearly 25 year love affair, my father’s death, and my mother’s discovery of a new love in her life (my now second-dad). Other real life events caused ripples in the book. Elder Brother got married. Big brother moved to Florida. My beloved rabbit Tribble died. I got engaged. I got unengaged. A lot of stuff was happening.

It would. It was college.

It’s only now, as I’ve pulled Past Ties out of the drawer and tried to coax something useful out of the compost of a green writer’s first efforts that I realize just how much stuff went into that steaming mix. You wouldn’t know it to read it. Even after reading this post, you would be hard-pressed to see what I’m talking about.

But I see it. Worse, I feel it.

Those emotions are so tangled in the story, I’m having trouble sorting them into something more readable. I don’t want to lose them, but they can’t stay as they are. Neither can the story. It’s too green, too simple and, quite honestly, too boring.

So I’m picking my way through the story, thread by thread, emotion by emotion, like my character Tayra Shah sorting through a flood of images to find the one that solves the puzzle of the missing robot.

I’m rearranging who does what, who feels what, who says what. It’s much harder than I thought it would be, and I blame the unintentional therapeutic nature of the book as written.

Why don’t I quit and write on something else?

I may. Two things stop me at the moment. One, I used to “quit” stories all the time, and I don’t want to do it anymore. Two, this story sets the foundation of many other stories I intend to write, including Star of Justice. I would like to see it become something publishable.

And that’s as vulnerable as I’m going to get with this particular topic today.

I would like to thank those who participated in my last thread. I wrote this part to honor your vulnerability with the rest of us. May your writing bring you and your readers all the healing you need to take your next steps.

About Robynn Tolbert

Born in Kansas and born again at age six, Robynn has published two novels and started her third. Robynn, aka Ranunculus Turtle, lives in Kansas with a clowder of cats, a patient dog and a garden.

17 comments on “More Therapy

  1. Thank you for coming out of your shell, Princess Turtle. It’s not easy being bare. The wind gets cold on your nether regions. Funny how a turtle must learn to come out of its shell, and a vaulter must learn to grown skin as tough as one. Perhaps we will meet in the middle with a turtle shell jacket. 😛

    • You know that Buffy episode where Angel is telling Buffy he wishes he could protect her heart, just take it in his hands and hold it and keep it safe and warm… And they look at each other and she says, “That’s kinda gross.” “Yeah, I was thinking the same thing.”

      …raised eyebrow and significant look. “Turtle shell jacket?” LOL!

  2. I have this “first” book where the plot follows the heroine on her travels, and she goes round and round and round… 😉 I need to figure out how to cut some of that out too, because that book is key to other books I’ve written since–and so far, I haven’t been able to figure it out. I think there’s a name for a book like this. I suspect that it’s “journaling!”

    • You made me belly-laugh!
      If I can’t figure this book out, it may just show up as flashbacks in every other book. 😀

      • You know, that may not be a bad idea, Robynn. Explore that further based on what else you’ve already written and see if that can work. If so, then it will save you the need to “rewrite” the novel and can just focus on certain segments at a time. 😉

  3. This post explains a lot about your moods and behavior in the last couple of months. You are and always have been greatly loved. It had me in tears. You are gifted in many areas, writing is only one of them.

  4. Thank you, Robyn. I think it takes courage to write these two posts that you have, and I honor that courage. Most of my therapy writing is in my journal. What isn’t there is in my head. So far, at any rate.

  5. I honestly don’t see how you can write and not get your emotions all tied up into it. If you’re trying to get an emotional response from your readers, you have to put emotion into it, and that emotion comes from within you and is inextricably tied to your experiences. My writing pretty much lays my soul bare. Even the fun stuff comes from a deeper place.

    I’m sure you’ll get it all worked out, and the end product will be awesome. Because you DID let your emotions get tangled in the story 🙂

  6. I think it’s poignant (in a sweet way) that you took your ms to the cemetery and read it aloud.

    • Truth be told, I felt silly doing it. But we were studying rituals in therapy school, so I figured this would be a good one.

      I ended up finishing the reading in the car. I was cold, the geese were loud and I figured Dad could hear me no matter where I was sitting. He’s a practical guy. I didn’t think he’d mind. 🙂

      • My dad passed away just before Christmas. He always wanted to read my stories, but I never found the courage to let him, so I think I may borrow your practice and take a copy of one of them with me when we go to bury him in June.

  7. I’ve enjoyed both of these posts, Robynn, although I don’t think I commented on the last one. Good stuff! 😀 Thanks for sharing!

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