A Knob in La La Land



I possess this extremely unfortunate personality trait.  I make things harder than they need to be.  My husband finds this trait an infinite source of amusement. 

I do not. 

I like to think of myself as intelligent—don’t we all?—and when I do these things, I feel like a real knob.

What he might not grasp completely is that sometimes it isn’t me taking the hard route… sometimes it’s nothing more than me living in this world with half my brain in another.  To be completely honest, about ninety percent of the time, it’s more than half off somewhere else.


Sometimes I have to expend so much energy making sure I’m paying complete attention to something, I end up exhausted.  Driving is one of those things.  I’ve never had an accident or received a ticket… but I’ve driven past more destinations than I care to admit. 

Heh.  Bet you’re the one who’s scared now.

I don’t keep up with friends the way I’d like to, so I almost always have one upset with me.  I’ve forgotten tooth fairy duties (which makes you feel so bad, it hurts) and I once walked all the way across a mall parking lot… the wrong way.  The worst part was my family just stood at the doors and watched.  When I asked them why they didn’t stop me, they said they wanted to see how far I’d go.

The bad news is I carry ‘doing things the hard way’ into my writing.  Instead of always letting myself write that bad first draft, like I’ve advised here repeatedly, I sometimes fall back into old habits and let that internal/infernal editor control my first draft. 

That’s bad.  Bad.  Bad Rinda. 

I spent quite a bit of time doing this last week.  Yesterday, I sent her to the corner, ignored her and scored around 3000 words. 

But I take that hard way thing even further sometimes.  I call those times my pathetic wishy-washy ones. 

For instance, in my current WIP, I started it out in 1st person, wrote over a hundred pages then changed my mind.  Many things went into that decision, but it boiled down to one real thing.  I honestly thought my smart mouthed 1st person style didn’t fit the dark, urban fantasy setting.  I was already contemplating this problem when a couple of anonymous critiquers said I was good at both but they didn’t think a book could be dark and funny at the same time—that I should just pick one. 

So, I started over.  I added more than one POV and really changed the story—but it was a lot of work to change it to 3rd person.  Everything changed. I ended up setting aside the book because I’d pulled it into so many different directions, it grew confusing.

But the book bothered me.  No, that’s not right.  The story and characters did.  I still felt it was one of my better ideas and just ditching it because I’d made it hard… well, that would be beyond pathetic. 

So, I started again, joined a new critique group and I’m writing along when I realized I was really struggling in 3rd person.  But I’m stubborn.  Even when Rachel pointed out, uh, several times, that the story would be so much more cool in 1st, I kept trying.  The last time she pointed it out, I cracked up.  I knew she was right and I’d known it from the beginning.

This time, instead of starting over, I just began to write in 1st person around chapter five.  Yeah, in the back of my mind the many changes the first four chapters will take on is a bit intimidating, but in 1st person, with this particular story, it really flies.  I sailed through chapter after chapter and damn, it felt good.  Some characters are meant to be in 1st person–it’s just the way it is.

So, the first half of this book has been written three times.  Nah, I don’t do things the easy way, do I?


About Rinda Elliott

Writer.I love unusual stories and credit growing up in a family of curious life-lovers who moved all over the country. Books and movies full of fantasy, science fiction and romance kept us amused, especially in some of the stranger places. For years, I tried to separate my darker side with my humorous and romantic one. I published short fiction, but things really started happening when I gave in and mixed it up. When not lost in fiction, I love making wine, collecting music, gaming and spending time with my husband and two children. I’m represented by Miriam Kriss of the Irene Goodman Agency.
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12 Responses to A Knob in La La Land

  1. Missy says:

    Argh! I’m the same when it comes to editing myself as I go. I find it hard to move on when I know something is not quite right with what I’ve already written. My current dilemma is that I’m trying (for the first time) to write in a third person narrative and I’m a bit like a fish out of water. *sigh*

  2. Okay, this entire post could have been about me. Not because I’m egotistical (though I’m not ruling that out either), but because I do the exact same thing. I’m never really here except when I’m not in the middle of a book. And I’m always in the middle of a book.

    In December I backed into a tree in my own front yard. I drive past locations I’ve been going to for years. I miss appointments all the time. I get lost in my work and completely forget I’m supposed to be somewhere else, doing something else.

    And I rewrote the first three chapters of BoS at least three times. Three complete rewrites. Different locations, different characters, different hooks. It was torture. 😉

    I’m glad you’re sticking with this one. It could be the THE ONE.

  3. Yes, we could take the easy way, but where’s the sport in that?? 😉


  4. relliott4 says:

    And if I add in that right now, my son seems to need an extraordinary amount of extra attention, it gets even harder.

    I’m not giving up yet, Rachel. 🙂 I’m just a tad bit frustrated today with all the regular life problems that keep smacking me in the face. When I’m writing, it’s all I can do to keep up with the usual mommy/wife/homeowner stuff but when they’re not doing their part either???

    Then I end up feeling guilty. That maybe I wasn’t paying enough attention and missed something. Sometimes, I think it would be easier to wait until they’re all grown up to do my thing. heh heh Like I could.

  5. You, Me, and Rachel should never go on a road-trip together unless we have a designated driver. I constantly forget where I’m going, I drive past landmarks, etc. But I can’t tell you how comforting it is to no that AT LEAST IT ISN’T JUST ME.


    In regard to choosing dark or funny, I kind of had a small discussion about this last week. Obviously, I have a difficult time toning down the humor. It naturally happens. Diana P said I should embrace the funny and write it instead of trying to write my dark book. It’s probably wise adice, (she hasn’t offered any bad advice yet) but I have a theory as to why I do this.

    I don’t deal with darkness very well. (Just what an agent/editor wants to hear from someone pitching an urban fantasy, huh?)

    But I have to write about it. It is inside me, and I want to get it the hell out. I also tend to use toned down humor in extrememly small portions of my YA UF for levity. But I don’t use it the same way I would in a comedy. Does this make sense?

    Anyway, Rachel’s post today offers some really good advice on focusing on first draft issues and layering in the rest later. (Pissed my internal editor off. Hehehe.)

    You’re doing a great job, Rinda. And I also happen to think you’re a good mom. Stick with it, and you;re kids will see they can accomplish anything, too.

  6. relliott4 says:

    Yeah, Rachel has a great post today. Told her so, too. 🙂

    I did one on layering not too long ago and yes, I usually follow this advice, but I backslide into old habits sometime. Did it last week. This week, I’m back to following my own advice.

    As for the mom thing… I’m just frustrated today because I received yet another email from the teacher. He’s such a sweet boy but has no drive whatsoever and easily forgets things… oh, that sounds partly familiar, doesn’t it?

  7. Ha! I almost forgot…

    My son lost a tooth a few days ago, and guess who remembered to put the tooth under the pillow but forgot to retrieve it?

    I told him the weather was bad and we would try it again that evening.

    The tooth fairy left him $10 for one tooth. She must have felt bad for slacking.

  8. I sympathize mostly with you trying to be a mom and be in that funky creative space at the same time. No way can that be easy.

    Sense of direction is attributable to the amount of iron in the brain. The more iron, the better the “sense”…

    So don’t feel too bad when you get “lost”.

    You just have less iron in your brain to align polarly, and your brain can’t “read” it.


  9. relliott4 says:

    I’ve been directionally challenged my entire life and this is the first I’ve heard. I have iron issues already with Graves Disease.

    Weird. Oh, happy birthday, Scott!

  10. Starting over three times isn’t bad. You’re persisting. Keeping on keeping on. Good for you. And I’m certainly no one to criticize. Once, in Cordell, I painted my den three times before I got it right!

    Can’t wait to see you Saturday! Love ya, girl.

  11. relliott4 says:

    Me too! I hope it doesn’t snow because I still have major car issues.

    Painting is difficult. Or, picking colors is. I painted my formal LR medieval gold and it’s hard finding the right things to go in there now.

  12. X. Dell says:

    Sometimes I wish I were Faulkner. That way, I wouldn’t ever have to change my writing voice, and I could then switch narrators at will, without anyone the wiser.

    You’re a far more experienced writer than I, so I would guess that if you felt the narrator’s voice too smart-mouth that you considered changing narrators. If you feel that he’s the best one, then maybe that’s where you should head. If you think that the third-person narrator is the best route, go with that.

    In other words, once you get to a certain level, there’s not really many people–not your writing group, your family, your fellow online writers, and certainly not me–who can help you.

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