There’s a conference room in my mind. It’s a huge room with massive windows that let in natural light. The table in the center is polished mahogany. It’s shiny. Around the table are mismatched chairs of various types-comfortable executive style, shabby secretary sheik, high backed leather, and squat pseudo leather chairs (black of course).
Ensconced in these various butt warmers are characters. Some are dressed in Victorian style dresses and day coats. Some are imminently forgettable. A few of them are loud and annoying.
I bang a gavel. I need a gavel with this group.
“Okay. Thank you. So we need to write today. I’m almost done with your story…..Tesia.” I delay in saying her name because I’d FORGOTTEN IT. Yes. It’s been that long since I’ve been able to get to that story.
Tesia, with enviable short red hair and freckles, just stares at me. She is definitely pissed. My characters often get really mad at me. When Real Life takes precedence and I can’t meet with them to get the story details, they all tend to feel neglected and abused. I don’t feel guilty anymore. I’m fifty-three this year and I don’t do guilt.
Luckily, Jezar speaks up. “Tesia still has issues with the beginning.”
I nod. “I’m sure. The beginning is always difficult.”
“Infodumping.” She snaps.
Well, fine. “I tried to remove that when I changed the scene to a fight scene.”
For a moment, she looks mollified. She liked the fight scene. She’s a kickass character and, though she likes to play cards with Jezar, opening the story with a card game wasn’t her style. The change was a good one.
“I’m afraid I’m still not content with the amount of punishment Tesia pays,” Jezar states and stares out the window as Tesia glares at his profile. “After all, she…” Jezar goes onto to repeat shit I already know. It’s on the fucking page.
“Jezar, I’ve asked you before. What else can I do? She almost dies of a genetic illness and you save her. She lets you get away with some serious fucked up bullshit because she knows she hurt you. She’s SORRY. What else do you want?” I’m exasperated. This is an ongoing discussion that makes me crazy. It makes me doubt my content. A lot.
Meanwhile, Tesia has crossed her arms and sunk down in her seat. My other characters from different Works in Progress are eyeing her with interest. I can tell she feels like they’re judging her.
Finally, Jezar glances at her. “I’m just letting you know that readers aren’t going to think she’s paid a very high price for being a racist asshole to me.”
He has a point. Tesia used Jezar’s race against him calling him all the nasty names for Ardasians and being a total bitch. She had a good reason. But she kept him in misery for MONTHS.
“She spends much of your story thinking you’re only fucking her so you can have the visions.” I point out.
Jezar rolls his eyes. “Fine. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. When you send this to Kate, I’m sure that will be enough.”
I sigh. “We’ll set up a time to go over the possible changes after I hear back from Kate.”
Tesia mutters something but I’ve decided they’re done. “Next on the agenda. Any progress on the Arundale front?”
The hostility in the room increases to an unbearable level. I glance up from my agenda and meet the very disgruntled gaze of my main male character Marcus. 18th Century werewolf. An Earl. And likes his spanky spanky.
“Progress?” he says softly. Oh shit. That’s his pre-rant voice.
“You’ve rewritten this SIX TIMES!” he shouts at me. “How am I supposed to continue to have these POINTLESS meetings when you keep rewriting the story. SIX TIMES.”
“Dude! I can’t help it if you guys keep lying to me. All you’ve given to me is that this is a threesome, she’s a witch and you and Simon are hot for each other and her. That’s it. And when YOU tell me the story, it’s completely fucked up. Whatever conflict happened occurred when you were fifteen and you’ve told me three different stories about it!”
Mariann, ever the peacemaker and another badass, interrupts me. “Jen, you know he doesn’t want to talk about it.”
I turned to Mariann in frustration. “He told me you were a murderer. He wanted you to be the one who killed his….well, the man the world thinks is his father, but…shit. The whole thing is a fucking mess. I really need you guys to unravel it.” I whirled back to Marcus. “If you think you’re frustrated with six different versions, think how I feel. Do you think I have time to waste all those words on BULLSHIT?”
“I prefer the current version.” Simon studies his hands.
I shoot a look at all three of them. “Version? That is what happened, right?”
The silence at the table is deafening. I am infuriated. “I’m considering skipping your story, changing the next in the series to a contemporary and tell some myth about your relationship that is mentioned in ONE FUCKING PARAGRAPH in a new story.”
Mariann winces. Marcus narrows his eyes and crosses his arms. Simon, the jerk, smiles. He loves baiting me.
“We didn’t initially want the story to show me as quite so…” Mariann trailed off. She’s beautiful, but damaged. Her witchy power is amazing. And she kicks ass even in four petticoats.
“…Dominating?” Simon says with a grin.
Now, I’m offended. “She is not,” I snap. “Just because she can fight with you side by side does not mean she’s-“
“He’s baiting you again,” Mariann murmured.
I almost growl. “Back to the topic. Do we have in progress on the current story?”
Marcus yawns. Simon grins. “Not at the moment. We are a bit stuck on the meeting with Marcus, as always. His past influences his current behavior and, since my lover refuses to disclose his pain from those days, we cannot move forward.”
I study Marcus. “I thought you wanted to share this story. Was I wrong?”
He is very still. “No.”
Mariann sighs. “We need a little more time.”
I nod. What else can I do? “I’m sure you’ll let me know when you’re ready.” Actually, I’m not sure of that at all, but I say it anyway.
“Next up, Yarina.” I don’t even get another word out.
“I hate this. Why does my story have to be concurrent with Nell and the others. And why do you have to make me out to be a stupid ho? I’m not happy. Dimitri gets all the good lines. He’s all “caro” this and “Princesa” that. Meanwhile, I’m the BDSM ho from hell.” Yarina waves her arms wildly as her voice raises. “Plus, I look like an idiot. Are you trying to make me a “Too Stupid To Live” female character?” She stabs a long, slender finger my way. “And if you use the word “exotic” just once to describe me? I’m going to call you out as a fucking Nice White Lady to Twitter.”
I sigh. I do a lot of sighing in the conference room.
“Now princesa, you know she has to follow the other published accounts. We are limited until we get beyond the timeline already set.” Dimitri pulls Yarina into his lap. “You and I are the most important story since we wind up all the loose threads from the other three.”
“I know. But it’s a suspense story. She always drags her feet on those.” Yarina puts her head on Dimitri’s shoulder.
“I want to make sure all the plot holes are filled in,” I said. “You know I fuck those up a lot. Remember poor Pogie in “Heart of the Storm”? Two last names. I want to make sure I get this story right.”
“She doesn’t make you a ho,” stated Nell. She’s my HR admin from “Declaration to Submit”. Somehow, she always knows how to put just the right tone in statements like that so they sound absolute.
“Well, I wish she’d get on with it,” Yarina said in an almost whiny tone. I don’t tolerate whining. Whining gets a character banished.
“I don’t respond to whining,” I snapped.
“I know,” Yarina said with a heavy sigh. Damn. There’s a lot of fucking sighing going on in this room.
“So…as I asked before. Any progress?” I met Dimitri’s amused gaze and fought the urge to roll my eyes.
“As you know, the plot is still a bit sticky. I recommend an Excel spreadsheet for a timeline.” Dimitri said in a calming, soothing and fucking annoying tone.
“You only say that because you know I hate Excel spreadsheets.” I gave up. Moving on. “Anyone else want to speak up? The agenda is open.”
There was a heavy silence. Yep. This was how it had been lately. I had seven characters giving me shit and everyone else had disappeared.
Simon rose and came over to my chair. He patted my shoulder. Those 18th century males are downright patronizing. “We are all you need, my friend,” he said in a cheerful voice. He waved his hand to the characters around the table. “You have a science fiction novel, a dirty contemporary novel, and, of course, a paranormal dirty historical.” He bowed. “We are quite enough.”
You know what? He’s right.