Monday, July 01, 2013

“Earrings Before the Outfit” and other Habits that are Hard to Break…

I have a terrible habit and it’s a very OLD habit. In fact, it’s become my shopping “motto”.

Me, in black button earrings and
matching yellow/black plaid pants.

          When I need a new outfit, first I go find the jewelry I want to wear, and then I work it from there.
Unfortunately, this motto of mine has spilled over into my writing. But first, let me explain how this started…
I’m blaming it on the 1980s.
Shucks, I might as well place all the burden of my problems on the Deb stores. Remember those?  In the ‘80s they had the best of the fads. Stripes and dots, sugary-colored pants and shirts, dresses with big ties or bows--Sound familiar?
The problem was I couldn’t really afford every outfit I craved or “needed” to pass as a fashion-savvy teenager.
It wasn’t that I didn’t have jobs. I had money. But I wasn’t up to spending it all frivolously on frocks that I knew were going to be in one minute and out the next.
Instead, I flittered across the mall to the next place I’m going to blame—Claire’s. You know this store, with the fashionably-cheap jewelry. I can’t think of a single time I’ve been in a mall that didn’t have one of these chain stores.
At Claire’s, I could always afford a pair of earrings. ALWAYS. The earrings represented the inspiration for my next, best outfit. And thus, my motto became: If I have the right earrings, I’ll find the perfect outfit to go with them!
My motto has worked for me for decades! In fact, sometimes if I’m lucky, I can find TWO outfits to match a lovely piece of costume jewelry. (Jewelry hording is a completely separate story…)
The motto worked until now.
What started as a simple phrase became a way of thinking. If it worked to buy earrings first, maybe it would work to by the floor mats before the car? Maybe if I had the right pots/pans before I tried the recipe? And what about that story I’m writing?—Put a title down first, then write it.
See my problem?
Titles don’t work that way. In fact, I’m not sure exactly how they work. I’m completely stuck on this now and it’s tearing my entire thought process of the past 30 years to shreds!
For all my WIPs, I started my writing with a few basic things—characters, problems and working titles. In the past, this formula worked. But now, it doesn’t.
In fact I hate the working title of my current story. HATE it! But like those earrings I bought last week and then the outfit I bought to go with them, I’m having a hard time trashing it.
I’m a mental mess!
In my mind, there is the irrational fear that if I get rid of the title, my story is going to have to change somehow.  And as I’m finishing up my revisions, I know that this is probably true.
The story has changed.
As much as it feels like I’m giving up my “inspiration” for this story, I’m going to have to find a new “match” to accessorize it with.
Besides, as we all know, the outfit is always more valuable.
Writers out there, what would you do?
For me, I think it’s time to go shopping…