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How to deal with multiple story syndrome

A fair-haired beauty from the 18th century American frontier wakes me up at 4 a.m., her home burned, her father dead. I don’t know what happens next, but this girl–currently named Honor–demands that her story be told. She might be blonde, but she’s anything but your stereotypical airhead, and she will fight her way through hell to escape the domesticated drudgery expected of the typical female of that time. But what about Verona Bon-Scott Martin, protagonist of my current work in progress? Sarcastic, scary smart, and always up to her pink-streaked hair in trouble, what happens when her mother dumps her off in the middle of nowhere to spend the entire summer on an organic farm in the middle of Tennessee?  And let’s not forget Lexi Sparks, small town journalist investigating a series of strange disappearances in Lost Valley–disappearances that involve strange rituals and respected government officials.

These are the characters currently warring in my brain, fighting for dominance. Add career and family obligations, not to mention query letters for my finished work, to my already cluttered brain, and what you have is a distracted aspiring author with what I like to call Multiple Story Syndrome. I don’t know if this is an actual disease, but I think it should be. In my humble opinion, it ranks right up there with ADD. I mean, really, what’s a girl to do with all of these distractions?

I have tried taking and break and resting my brain, finding a vast array of other distractions, like gardening (I actually haven’t killed any of my flowers this year…so far), vacationing (though exploring 18th century history in Williamsburg only intensified Honor’s voice), and even watching the idiot box (it’s amazing how much bad TV I’ve missed over the past year). But to no avail. I’m just as distracted as ever. So I have finally relinquished all pride and taken my husband’s most frequent advice (but don’t tell him that–I’ll never hear the end of it). I have made a priority list, which is as follows:

1. Continue work on Verona’s story. I am already several chapters in and must push forward so that I complete the manuscript.

2. While working on Verona’s story, continue taking notes on other stories, filing them away in my idea folder, to revisit later.

3. When not writing, continue sending query letters for completed manuscript, while spending much time in prayer for that one “Yes” that will change my life.

Will this work?I don’t know, but I’m thinking this is my most likely recipe for success. I am one of those borderline obsessive-compulsive people who find great pleasure in list making. I mean, there’s just something so refreshing and reassuring about completing tasks in order and then checking them off the list.  In fact, I have just taped my priority list to my desk right beside my computer, so it will motivate me as I work (and it won’t find its way into the garbage can when I go on a rather obsessive-compulsive cleaning binge). So…starting tomorrow, I will begin to attack my priority list and defeat this Multiple Story Syndrome.  I hope I am not alone in this somewhat schizophrenic sort of mind clutter, so if any of you have any advice or insights on how you approach this issue, I would love to hear your comments.


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