One of my works in progress is a novel whose temporary title was ‘Dream Dancers.’ It’s something that I knew was going to take a lot of work.
Just not this much work.
The Definition of Insanity (thank you, Shelby, for okaying the title), is a story about a woman in her early twenties who has always heard voices in her head. She doesn’t really know what’s going on, but there are actually other people living inside her mind. And they want out — badly.
My best friend and I were talking the other day, and we kind of realized how pathetic we are. She knows more about the regency period and I know more about ancient Egypt than we do about the modern world. What on earth do normal people our age do with their lives? That’s a huge problem I have with the Definition of Insanity. While it’s got elements that aren’t ‘normal,’ for the most part it’s a contemporary novel and it confuses me. Many interesting things happen in daily life, but not much that makes a good book.
This is my third time rewriting the beginning. I have to write chronologically, so the beginning, for me, is a huge part of integrating myself in the story. And it kept falling flat. I had too much info-dump and hadn’t planned things out enough. And I readily admit I was rather lazy. I’m rather a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of person and my methods and the story were not meshing. When I write, I need excitement. And what I was doing wasn’t conducive with the story.
But I learned more from every rewrite. I already have playlists put together to spur my mind as I write and I’ve finally nailed the plot down more. This time, I think I can do it.
So, just for fun, I’m going to tell you a bit about my story.
The name is kind of a family in-joke. My dad is a huge tease and he likes to tell us that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different result. And just given the content, it fits. Besides, I think writing this one might just drive me over the edge.
I was inspired to write the book, in part, by the therapy I was doing. My dear friend and therapist, Brother Cassity, had me try a technique where I would ‘enter’ a sort of conference room in my head where all the facets of myself had gathered. He asked me to find the one holding onto all the fear, and when I saw her, I think I scared him a little. This is Valkyrie.
I was born into a less-fortunate household, seeing as my biological father was quite mentally and emotionally abusive. I grew into a hardened, mean individual, and Valkyrie is basically myself had I not been given the opportunities to change. (And for the record, my mother remarried when I was twelve, and I completely, totally, and unreservedly consider my new father as my real one). So writing this book is very much an emotional journey for me, as I’ll be delving into my past and coming to terms with it. Everyone has difficulties and trials individual to them, and a goal I hope I can reach with this novel is to bring peace to other tortured souls.
As always, a book is made by its characters. Plot, technique, etc. are all very important, but to create a memorable experience characters have to be flesh-and-blood, individuals the audience can relate to and sympathize with. I’ve spent quite a bit of time on these guys, and I’d like to introduce you now:
DUSTY ELIZABETH DARCY (FORMERLY MURPHY)
Dusty, the protagonist and host of most of the others, was legally adopted by her mother’s second husband, which is why her last name changed. She’s twenty-one, and the book begins soon after she and her sister lose their parents. She’s intelligent but struggles with school and currently works at JCPenney in Reno, Nevada. She’s a quarter Sioux on her mother’s side and has thick black hair, full lips, thick brows and eyes that are rather small in her chiseled face. (Morphing Lily Collins and Sandra Bullock kind of did the trick with a bit of GIMP alteration). She’s a bit blunt, a bit of an introvert, and loves to read — just don’t ask her to spout her knowledge. She has bad dyscalculia (basically dyslexia with numbers), and is quite the people-watcher. Rather quiet, it takes a while to get to know her, but inside, she’s always acquiring and digesting new facts about the world around her.
RYCE KATHRINE DARCY
This is Dusty’s younger sister. They’re not biologically related, so don’t be surprised at their complete lack of resemblance. She’s a literal genius, but because of money matters she’s decided not to continue on to college — at least not for the moment — and it crushes Dusty. She’s sugar and spice and everything nice, but she’s surprisingly shrewd. She always sees the good in people and tries hard to remain positive. She’s overwhelmingly loyal to her sister, and in many ways is Dusty’s rock. Dusty is Ryce’s caution, Ryce is Dusty’s worry-alleviator. They balance each other out very well.
DJIN (NEEDS MIDDLE NAME) HAWTHORNE
Djin’s kind of rough-around-the-edges. When you first meet him, he seems kind of hard and sullen, but that’s just the way he appears. He does have quite the temper, but usually manages to keep it in check. He doesn’t trust others very easily, but is usually willing to give them a chance. He’s devoted to his adopted brother, Tsuyoshi, and when he’s around him is the only time his true softness comes out. Djin feels things very deeply and is somehow of the opinion that it is his job to care for those trapped in Dusty’s mind. He’s very selfless, almost to a fault, little though you’d know it from his brusque attitude. All-in-all, he’s what my friends and I call a burnt marshmallow — bitter and hard on the outside, gooey and sweet on the inside. Although I don’t think he’d be particularly keen on that description.
TSUYOSHI AKI (NEEDS LAST NAME)
He was inspired by the adorable Yuzuru Hanyuu who won the gold in the men’s skating last winter Olympics. That little face needed a story. So Tsuyoshi (or ‘Tsu,’ as Djin calls him) was born. He was the last to arrive in Dusty’s mind, and Djin kind of took him in. Tsuyoshi is very different from the others — he’s incredibly sweet and soft-hearted. He’s not the brightest sometimes, but he’s kind and loving in an innocent way that is very rare these days. Whatever he does, he does with his whole heart. He loves music, especially classical, and can often be found composing in the apartment he and Djin share.
HUGO JAMES BENEDICT
(Another morphed project). Hugo likes to keep to himself, though he is attracted to Valkyrie. Out of all of them, he is perhaps the coldest. He thinks only of himself, not even those he’s been with for about a decade. His opinion of himself is basically that he’s royalty. His apartment is lush and he enjoys spending time in the library, philosophizing and looking regal in his tailored suits. Very self-absorbed. He is willing to do anything to free himself from Dusty’s mind, and that makes him the most dangerous of all.
VALKYRIE AURORA WEBB
Valkyrie is an extremely complicated individual. (No, you may not call her ‘Val.’ I do, but she can’t murder me without her story careening to a halt). She remembers far more than Dusty the abuse they suffered at the hands of Dusty’s biological father, and she has grown into a woman haunted by her past, hardened to the point that she no longer feels anything. Her only relief comes by dancing, the rigor of ballet somehow soothing her. She also loves music and has a vast collection of both classical and musical theatre. (She is against pop. She finds it crude and childish). She doesn’t feel, but she certainly thinks. She doesn’t know how to see the positive, and life, for her, is just about surviving one more day.
CHRISTOPHER (NEEDS MIDDLE AND LAST NAMES)
The name is completely coincidental, I promise. Chris just graduated college with a degree in engineering, sponsored by his wealthy parents. He has everything he wants. He’s first attracted to Dusty, but Ryce quickly captures his attention. He’s charming, caring, and attentive, and his help is greatly appreciated by the struggling girls (much to the dislike of those in Dusty’s mind). But his motives are far less generous than what initially they seem.
So, that was a sneak peek into my old/new novel. I hope you enjoyed, because there will definitely be more on the subject.
P.S. Happy birthday, Reita!