I am still in love with Scrivener and this morning I am curled up reading the manual again. I have several Scrivener Projects which are not writing projects but resources. These are my Writer’s Banks and where I stockpile emotional prose. It’s something I started doing last year. Sometimes writing emotional scenes are difficult because my mind really isn’t in that place, or going to that place is hazardous. Recently, I needed to write a scene where shock erodes into crushing grief. It drained me and I had to revisit places in my past and painful events. Later, I am so drained, I need to hop on the treadmill or make a strong drink. Other times I am in such a good mood, I have difficulty finding a dark place inside me and I understandably want to stay in my happy place. No fear, I’ve got the Bank always open for withdrawals.
My Bank is a lot like a teenager’s diary of angst. I’ll take every glitch in the Matrix and expand upon it, develop it and wallow in it. My first husband found my diary once and read it. He later called it my book of hate and misery. I was hurt and confused but too young to understand that it was my Bank, a necessary lifeline. If he didn’t like dinner, I’d wallow in self pity, I’d write about how hard it is to cook a meal after a day of difficult college classes like physics and organic frigging chemistry with the cruel professor and her long giraffe-neck who could turn her head completely around and pluck out your eyes in a millisecond for not understanding the differences between Sn1, Sn2, E1, and E2 rxns. I’d write about the police officer who stopped me on a rural Virginia Road for speeding, which I had been guilty, about how much he hated Yankees, of which I was one, and how he dragged me into the woods and beat me senseless, then left me to drown in a brown muddy swamp full of mosquitos who couldn’t leave me alone for even a minute so I could die without itching. No, he was a Pennsylvania farmboy who met a city-girl artist wanna-be in the Marines, who’d switch her major to Biology-hell when he was diagnosed with cancer. He did not see a point to daydreams or fantasy. But, I did, I needed that diary to find my way home, back to painting and poetry.
Of course, if you know me now, you know I am fibbing, usually it is the other way around. I am in a dark place but I need to write a disney-happy or sizzling hot scene. I go to my bank. I read through a few essays or fragments I’ve written over the years. Soon, I am in that place and eager to get back to the story. I recently came across a printout of critiques I received on a story I wrote in Zoetrope’s Workshop in 199~. I was praised and teased by my critique partners for writing a sizzling-hot sexy story. I reread the comments twice and asked, “Me?” This must be a parallel universe, when did I ever write a sizzling sex scene? So, I searched for the story, read it and I blushed. I saved it to the bank and last fall, I was taking a course in writing sexy scenes, so I submitted it and awaited a repeat of the praise. After all, if the critics on Zoetrope thought it was hot… I got shot down fast and hard, it was pointed out that I had broken all the rules of sex on the page… So, crushed, I took my little story and pulled it from the Bank and rewrote, poured a glass of wine, looked at my handsome husband playing computer games and rewrote and rewrote until I beat that pony into submission. Of course, I still love the original version, the literary version, where sex spends a lot of time in your mind and not staining the mattress. But, it’s all okay because I still have my Bank on Scrivener.
Yesterday, I started a new Bank of stories. My motivation was a post on Writer Unboxed about marketing: Are You Building an Audience of Writers, Not Readers? by Dan Blank. He made some very valid points and got me thinking.
My current WIP is based in a section of the country ‘everyone’ thinks they know. After all, who hasn’t seen or heard of The Andy Griffith Show? I mean you are probably going to hear that whistling theme song all day now, right? Sorry. I left Boston with handsome man, I mean he looks like the Edge on U2, I was wicked smitten, I would have friggin followed him off a cliff. He dragged me to Wilmington, NC where we lived on the Intracoastal and designed corporate web sites. Just before our business collapsed into oblivion (after 9/11, no one wanted a web site) he was offered a job in Mount Airy, NC. After a quick Google, I was shouting, “No friggin way! Mayberry!?!?…” I was excited and drove him nuts. Fast-forward ten years and we’re still here but we’ve moved a few miles down the road to Pilot Mountain (where Aunt Bea’s family lived). My story was birthed from the anecdotes, experiences and gossip I heard and lived during my time living around the corner from Andy Griffith’s birthplace. This region is a part of Appalachia, it has a unique, charming way that can still be found unchanged in the most surprising places.
So, of course, I needed a Scrivener Bank of Appalachian Gems and Memories to safeguard these nuggets that inspired me to fill Surry County with spies, cold war sleepers and crazy mountain preachers. For example, consider this true story, which happened shortly after moving to Mayberry:
Two women lived on our street, I loved them both, one 96 and the other 92! -naturally, they knew each other for over 90 years!!! (can you imagine?) and did not like each other one bit, seems the younger one messed around with the older one’s sister’s best friend’s husband back in the 30’s… Well, one day a mountain preacher arrives who has decided it is his Christian duty to mow the widow’s lawns… The younger widow is thrilled, she doesn’t like spending money and a sinner cutting her grass for Jesus is just fine with her! The older one though doesn’t trust strange men, (unlike the hussy across the street) and also has a great-grandson to mow her lawn -so she tries to shoo the man away. Now, who steps in to help chase the pastor away? None other than the local drug dealer, who lives with his mother (who is not on the other ladies’ social register). So, in the middle of the street, a yelling match ensues… all the while, my dear dorky husband is obliviously mowing our lawn wearing noise-canceling headphones and listening to angry Irish rock. The minister shows up at our door later that evening to ‘testify’ to his sins on our porch… to my stunned husband’s confusion. He listened patiently and only became irritated when he couldn’t hire the man to mow our hateful lawn. The pastor assured my husband that the fact we were going to end up burning in hellfire with all the other Yankees, was not going to deter him from testifying. –.Amen.–
So, on a old scratched CD-ROM, I find my testimony of the event and pop it’s crazy ass into my Mayberry Scrivener Bank to mine later for goodies. Where in my mind the minister is actually the son of a Russian sleeper agent and has been trained to be a ticking terrorist bomb! Because, that is what my mine does to reality and Scrivener keeps it all organized for me.
If Scrivener seems daunting and you’re lost in the woods, there is Gwen Hernandez and her wonderful book, Scrivener for Dummies, to help you find the path. Gwen is a writer, so she knows how to help you get the most out of the program!