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WHEN THE CREATIVE PROCESS STOPS PROCESSING
And an excerpt from my new book, David, Renewed
Coming from Dreamspinner Press in September
I have a new book coming out Mid-September.
OMG, I HAVE A NEW BOOK COMING OUT MID-SEPTEMBER!!!
For a while there, I was afraid I’d never have another new book coming out at all! I learned some valuable lessons about grieving this past year, at least my grieving process. I lost my mom and dad within eighteen months of each other. I’d lived with them for about four years before that, helping to take care of them. Mom was 83 and Dad 85 when we all moved in together, and I was chief cook and bottle washer and chauffer. Dad had a minor accident and he handed off the driving duties, and some days Mom just didn’t feel like cooking. This was all fine. I loved them, and I didn’t mind helping.
What I only acknowledged once it was over, was that losing them both like that led to a significant period of writer’s block. I don’t know what other writer’s blocks feel like; I can only describe mine. For me, it was silence. A yawning silence in my head, so significant it almost echoed. You see, my head is normally never quiet. For me, the creative process sounds like a conversation. Sometimes a loud one between more people than I can sort out, but it’s almost never completely silent. For a year after my mom died, and then another six months after we lost Dad, there were no stories wanting to be told, no characters waiting to be heard. There was silence. And even when, after months, the chatter slowly, tentatively started up again, the idea of trying to write something, anything, just made me tired.
It wasn’t until about a year ago that one voice started talking to me, and I could really hear him. His name was David, David Snyder, and he’d just been through one of the worst things that could happen to a person. He arrived home after a cancelled business trip to find his lover, his partner, the man he planned to spend the rest of his life with cheating on him. You see, David had just lost his dad, too, so this betrayal seemed more than he could emotionally handle. I could relate to David; I had no partner to cheat on me, but the idea of one more emotional blow during all of those losses would have done me in, too. I felt for him. And if I had the financial resources David did, I might have gone out and bought a hundred year old house without taking into consideration all of the issues that crop up with old houses. I could actually see myself doing it, so I sympathized when that’s just what David did. From there, David’s story became his own and slowly, haltingly my muse woke from his impersonation of Rip Van Winkle.
The end result is the book that comes out next month through Dreamspinner Press, David, Renewed. I’ll post an excerpt at the end of this post, and I hope you’ll find you enjoy David’s story.
To finish up here, I just want to leave a note for fellow writers who find themselves facing the blank page, or living in the silent head. See, I’d never had that kind of block before and I don’t think I fully appreciated the resulting terror. The questions of ‘what if this all just…dries up? What will I do THEN?’ Here’s what I found out about my own process; I couldn’t force it. I couldn’t MAKE myself write. I managed to write my monthly OtM post, but it was damned hard. Writing a book was out of the question. But slowly, omg so slowly, the creative part of me kicked back in. Haltingly at first, and I went back and rewrote the sections of this book that suffered when it stuttered, but it did come back. And I can never fully express my gratitude. Because living with that silence? That was harder than writing any book could ever be.
The doorbell echoed through the empty house, and sighing in irritation, David set the soda pop on the floor.
When he opened the door, it took everything he had not to slam it again.
“So this is where you are.” Trevor gave him a scowl. “That little queen who works for you wouldn’t tell me anything.”
David went back to his chair. “The ‘little queen’s’ name is Michael.” He sank into the recliner and reclaimed his drink. “And he didn’t give you any information because I told him not to.”
“Nice, David. And Diet Coke?” His supercilious expression encouraged David to salute him with the can. “You know aspartame is bad for you.”
David’s lips twisted. “That which does not kill us and all that.” Trevor gave him a derisive look and came into the living room uninvited, standing with his hands on his narrow hips, looking around with distaste.
“This is lovely, really. What do you call it? Ghetto chic?”
David glared at him. “How did you find me?”
Trevor looked at him like he was an idiot. “How do you think? I followed you.”
“You followed me?” David gave him an incredulous look. The idea that Trevor followed him home, then sat in the dark watching him while he talked to his neighbor, sent a chill down David’s spine. “And you’re in my office, going through my desk. Stalker, much?”
Trevor crossed his arms over his chest. “Well, if you’d stop acting like a child and answer my texts or take my calls, it wouldn’t be necessary.”
David stared at the man he’d lived with for five years and thought he’d loved. He took in his slick dark hair and patrician profile, his expensive clothes and designer shoes, and wondered if he’d ever known him at all. Somehow he didn’t think he had. “Fuck you.”
Trevor’s tweezed brows lifted. “Charming. Developed a new vocabulary? And that’s hardly like you.”
“I don’t think you know the first thing about what I’m like. And I believe I began developing a new vocabulary the day I came home to find you getting your prick sucked by someone in my living room.”
Trevor sighed. “You’re never going to let that go, are you?”
David took another drink of his pop. “No, I don’t believe I am. I know you don’t see it the same way I do. But to me, getting head from someone other than me constitutes you cheating. And it makes me wonder how many times it happened before.” Trevor gave him a baleful stare. “Are you going to stand there and tell me that was the first time?”
“Yes.” It was said without hesitation, but David studied his face and knew he was lying. Trevor had probably been cheating on him for years, and he’d gone blithely on, thinking they were in love. He’d even convinced himself that Trevor’s insistence they always use condoms was a personal idiosyncrasy, that he’d wanted to be sure. He “didn’t trust the tests.”
Suddenly too tired and heartsore to spar, David set the pop can carefully on the floor near his foot. “Why are you here, Trevor?”
“I’m here,” he said, his voice glacial, “because my lawyer apparently heard from your lawyer. I didn’t know you had one.”
David shrugged, his shoulders shifting against the ancient upholstery. “You didn’t leave me much of a choice.”
“It didn’t have to be this confrontational. That’s your doing.”
David eyed him balefully. “So, I should ignore what I walked in on and blithely go on paying the bills?”
“You chose to leave.” David huffed out a bitter laugh and Trevor’s jaw hardened. “I will not agree to sell the condo.”
“I didn’t instruct my attorney to ask you to sell the condo,” David replied. “I told her to tell your lawyer that if you wanted to stay, you can refinance it and take over the payments.”
“You know I can’t afford to do that.”
Anger broke through David’s exhaustion. “You can if you stop eating out and buying expensive wine. Not to mention those five-hundred-dollar shoes.”
“I won’t change my lifestyle and I won’t be forced out of my home.” He took a threatening step forward and David felt a jolt of fear, but wouldn’t allow himself to back down.
“Then refinance the mortgage and take my name off of the deed. I’ll let you have the furniture and everything else I paid for. But I’m not going to make payments on a place where I’m not living.”
“This whole tired wronged-party routine you’re playing is getting really old, David. You know that when the condo is eventually sold, you’ll clear a decent profit.”
“So because I’ll eventually see a profit you want me to pay your way now?” David shook his head. “No, Trevor, I won’t do it.” Trevor looked startled. He took a step toward David, who stiffened. “That’s close enough. I won’t explain bruises away for you, ever again. Touch me, and I call the police.”
Trevor stayed where he was as if testing David’s resolve. Finally he retreated, and it was all David could do not to sag in relief.
“I’ll take you to court.”
“And say what? That after you fucked around on me I refused to pay your bills? We aren’t married. You don’t get alimony.”
“My lawyer might disagree with you. There is a little thing called domestic partnership.”
“So because we lived together, you think that argument is going to work? We never registered as domestic partners.” David sighed in exasperation and leaned over, snatching up his soda. “Your lawyer can talk to my lawyer. Let’s let them sort it out. That’s the civilized way to do it, isn’t it?” He held the can up and saluted Trevor. “By all means, let’s be civilized.”
“When did you turn into an asshole?”
David huffed out an incredulous, bitter laugh. “I’d say it probably coincides with realizing I’d lived with one for five years. Finding you with your pants around your ankles and a kid attached to your cock was the icing on the cake.”
“I won’t even dignify that with a response.” Trevor turned toward the door.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” David said to the back of his head. “Were we going for dignified? Hate to break it to you, but I think that ship has sailed.” God, the words felt liberating. He could scarcely believe he had the nerve to say them.
Trevor didn’t respond. He stomped out through the front door, leaving it standing open behind him. David watched him walk away and was surprised by how little he felt other than weariness. There went five years of his life, and all he felt was… empty.
“That the ex?”
The voice startled him and David turned as Trevor roared off down the street in his Mini Cooper. Another luxury David helped pay for. Apparently his level of gullibility knew no bounds.
Jackson was in the kitchen doorway, staring out through the front door. He was wearing another tight T-shirt, this one black, and worn Levi’s with a tool belt slung low on his hips. His protective clear goggles were pushed up into his sawdusted hair.
“Yep,” David said finally. He could feel Jackson’s gaze even though he tried to avoid looking at him. “Trevor Blankenship.”
“He’s kind of a jerk, isn’t he?”
Jackson crossed through the dining room and walked past him, closing the front door almost carefully, stopping the cold air that was drifting through the room. He leaned against it, crossing his arms and surveying David.
“I didn’t mean to eavesdrop,” he said. “But I heard voices….”
“It’s all right.” David blew out a breath and let his head fall against the headrest. “We weren’t exactly quiet.”
There was a long silence. “David,” Jackson said finally, “can I say something, even though this is really none of my business?”
David looked up to find clear blue eyes steady on his face. “Sure.”
Jackson’s hand curled around his own bicep, long fingers pressing into his arm. “I don’t know you very well, but everything I’ve seen tells me you’re a nice guy. A bit impulsive, maybe, but I think I get why you bought the house the way you did now. But you’re a good person. No one deserves to have their partner cheat on them. And no one deserves to have their partner put hands on them. No one.” After a wave of embarrassed heat surged to his face, David stared at him, feeling sadness roll off of him in quiet waves.
“Speaking from experience?” For some reason the idea of Jackson feeling anything like he did made David’s throat tight.
“No one has ever touched me in anger, but let’s say I can commiserate.” His gaze lifted and David felt the kind, direct stare like a caress. “Remember something: this isn’t something you did. This is on him.”
“I know. I keep telling myself that. But I thought….” He shook his head. “I guess it doesn’t matter what I thought, but it’s certainly made me question my judgment.” He gestured wryly around the room. “About everything.”
About Diana CoplandDiana Copland began writing in the seventh grade, when she shamelessly combined elements of Jane Eyre and Dark Shadowsto produce an overwrought Gothic tale that earned her an A- in creative writing, thanks entirely to the generosity of her teacher. She wrote for pure enjoyment for the next three decades before discovering LiveJournal and a wonderful group of supportive fanfiction writers, who after gifting her with a “”Best New Author”” Award encouraged her to try her hand at original gay fiction.
Born and raised in southern California, Diana moved to the Pacific Northwest after losing a beloved spouse to AIDS in 1995. She lives in eastern Washington with four obnoxious cats, near her two wonderful adult children.
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