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I think this is the most self-indulgent element of this blog: my desire to share with the world not just my stories, but the process that goes on behind the scenes when I’m writing them. Clearly I have some insane belief that people will be interested, but even if they’re not, I want to write this. (Which is perhaps the philosophy behind the whole of fan fic, really, but I’ll leave that to explore another time…)

NB: *Here be spoilers* if you haven’t read the story yet, you might not want to read this, because it gives away the really cool twist.

“If you really loved me you’d let me kill you” was mostly a very fun story to write. It flowed fast, especially the first part, and the title came to me about half-way through the first chapter. I wasn’t quite sure what it meant at the time, but I thought it was cool, so I typed it at the top. Later, it came to really define the emotional journey for the two characters.

My heroine, Alex — or, more precisely, Her Royal Highness, Princess Alexandra Maria Feliciana Di Giorgio — is a princess, mowed down by House on his motorbike after she accidentally stepped out into traffic. At first, I was totally enamoured by the princess idea. My brain was rushing through all the wonderful fun I could have with such an impolite and unconventional character as House entering the stiff, ordered world of royalty.

But.

Then it didn’t feel right. About chapter 3 or 4, I started to feel like the princess thing was too twee, too silly. And that was when Alex whispered her little secret in my ear: “I’m not really a princess, I only think I am”. Wow! THAT made sense! Then came a heap of research into delusions and dissociative mental disorders to find out if such a thing was possible. Not only was it possible, but it bought in a whole heap of wonderful plot possibilities, like paranoia, and the extrapolation of external events into the delusion.

(For example: When Alex and House go for a walk and House goes into the OTB, Alex sees a TV program about herself and believes it is a story about her family trying to track her down. In fact — and House sees the same program on YouTube later – it was a news item about the real-life tragedy that happened to her family. The whole scene came about because of the research I did that told me that while someone like Alex would not suffer from hallucinations, she would interpret real events to suit her delusion.)

Once I realised that Alex was NOT a princess, I went back over the first few chapters I’d written and made sure the story made sense. Surprisingly there wasn’t a lot that had to change — funny how that happens. Alex clearly knew that about herself from the start! This brings up another good fan fic question, which is: when is the right time to post? Clearly if I’d posted the story after I’d written chapter one, I would have been trapped and not able to start laying in the clues that Alex might not be all that she seemed to be. Again, another topic for another time.

Interestingly although this was a romance there wasn’t much in the way of sex scenes. For some reason, these two, while passionate, weren’t quite as hyped up for bedroom action as previous stories I’ve written. I did include one scene towards the end (under the Christmas tree, for extra romance factor), but that was actually a plot point – it was part of Alex learning that she could trust herself to ‘let go’ and really feel her emotions without worrying she might break down again.

House’s journey was my real challenge. In this story his journey wasn’t as extreme as Alex’s — in contrast to his character on the show, here he was the stable influence, the rock, while Alex veered from one reality to the other. In the end, I decided for him it was simply about exploring this very aspect: he took care of his daughter and continued to care for Alex even though she rejected him and refused to speak to him. He ended up at Mayfield, but as a support person, not a patient. House found his salvation through saving someone else, rather than descending into the pit of despair he ended up at by the end of season five. Plus he had to become a father — and a single father at that — which was another opportunity for his emotional growth.

I like writing Daddy House, but I hate the cliches — tears at the ultrasound? Puh-lease. I tried to keep his relationship with Matilda real without being ridiculous – the tiredness, the occasional disgusting-ness, the overwhelming infatuation. I hope I managed that ok.

Which brings me to my favourite part of the whole story — and it’s Wilson. Sometimes my writing moves me — tears, pain, hunger, schmexy stuff, and laughter. Hopefully that’s a good sign. This time it was laughter. Here’s the moment I’m talking about, just after Matilda has thrown up all over Wilson:

“Argh!” Wilson barely stifled a gag, holding the baby out to her father as he struggled to overcome the revulsion of being showered with baby barf.

House couldn’t help the laugh that shook him. He reached over and took Tilly from Wilson, laughing even harder as he watched his friend frantically try to wipe the baby vomit before it reached his eyes and then look around in horror, trying to find something to clean the rest away.

House couldn’t even manage to point to the bathroom, his laughter was so encompassing. “Oh. My. God,” he managed to gasp. House looked down at Tilly who was frowning at Wilson in an entirely displeased manner. Through his laughter, House held Tilly up to face Wilson like a puppet. “We are not amused,” House mugged, still laughing as Wilson disappeared down the corridor.

“It’s in my hair!” came the distressed call from the bathroom.

I laughed. And I laughed some more. I could just picture Robert Sean Leonard as Wilson, eyes wide, horrified, as he looked in the mirror, a trail of baby barf running down his temple, ruining his perfect quaff. I laughed again.

I have to admit, most of my favourite scenes in this story revolved around Matilda. I love it when House takes her from Wilson (because she’s spit up yet again), props her up on the sofa and she falls over — because she’s basically a newborn. He says:

“It’s not my fault,” he protested to Matilda as he picked up the unhappy little girl and hoisted her to his shoulder. “If you can’t hold your drink and then you go playing around with strange men, you’re going to end up face down one way or the other.”

Actually that might actually tie for my favourite moment. I love the idea of saying something so awful and rude to a baby. Does that make me weird?

All my stories have songs that go with them (some of them even have soundtracks). I don’t usually tell people that when I post, because I do think that this information is not all that interesting. Especially if you’ve never heard of the band or the song. Then you’re like, ‘so what?’. Anyway, for those of you who know it, this story’s song was ‘China’ by Tori Amos — mostly because I went to see her in concert and while I was there I wrote (in my head) through a block I was up against. That song seemed to help in some way. After that, every time the story stopped flowing, I would listen to that song and see what happened. Sometimes it worked. The lyrics aren’t especially relevant, although they are about distance and closeness and I think that resonates.

Anyway, for those of you that liked the story, I hope that that was vaguely interesting. If not, then it doesn’t really matter I guess — you’re probably not reading anyway! Thank you so much to everyone who reviewed, giving the story more than 300 reviews in total — I’m really thrilled with that. It means such a lot to have lovely readers who ‘pay’ for their reading by leaving a review. It’s a fantastic reward. (Although, be prepared, if/when I do eventually land a publishing deal, I will be looking for actual DOLLARS not just praise…:-))

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I wanted to write a little more constructively about the process of writing “If you really loved me”, the House fan fic story that I’ve just recently published the last chapter of, but I’m finding that I can’t. (But I will, in a future post.)

I’ve talked to other writers about the strange emotions that happen when you write and publish fan fic and I think that many of us go through the same kind of process.

At first, when I’m writing a story, I’m filled with enthusiasm and excitement for it. I can’t wait to find out what happens and I’m practically obsessed by writing – I simply don’t want to do anything else (eat, sleep, work, go outside . . .). It’s like an addiction, and occasionally just as unhealthy!

Usually, I start to post (publish) a story when I’m about two-thirds of the way through writing it. It’s when I’m still quite excited by the story and I’m bursting to get some feedback from someone and share my words with the world.

Then, a strange thing happens. I work out what’s going to happen in the story. I know how it’s going to end – all that has to happen is for me to sit down and type it out. And that’s usually right when I fall out of love with my story. Sitting down to do that typing feels more like a chore than a labour of love. I also no longer think it’s very good, despite any lovely reviews I might be getting (thank you) and I have a massive crisis of confidence, wondering what the hell I was thinking putting it out there anyway. I no longer have the drive to write that I did at the start.

Generally speaking it takes me two- to three-times longer to write the final two chapters as it did to write the whole rest of the story. Silly, hey?

So they’re the first two “emotional” phases of the process of fan fic writing – well for me, anyway. But there’s a third.

Once I’ve finished writing, I’ve typed the words “The End”, and then I’ve posted my final chapter, a weird kind of melancholy descends. It’s like Christmas Day when you’re a kid and all the presents have been opened and you didn’t get exactly what you’d hoped for. That sad, kind of restless sense of anti-climax. I think it’s because I used to have this ongoing sense of purpose, I’d wake up and know I needed to post. People were out there waiting for it! Not only that, I would get regular emails (review alerts) filled with praise from people – often complete strangers! – about how well I was doing with something. And then, all of a sudden, it stops.

I guess it’s a little like being an addict and having your “culottes” taken away. (That’s a House reference 🙂 ) The “high” that you once had is over. No more nagging to post from keen readers, no lovely reviews – no personal satisfaction simply from seeing thousands of words from your own imagination right there on the screen.

I don’t want to overstate this. It’s not like I’m sitting curled up in a ball in the corner of the room, rocking back and forward. I still have a life to lead, bills to pay, work to do, family and friends to annoy. But there’s this little weird, nagging sense of loss, of something missing, of a gap where something used to be.

That is, of course, until the next story begins . . .

Hope 2010 has started off well for you, whatever you are up to!

Mine has been a great one so far. My story “If you really loved me, you’d let me kill you” is still getting lovely reviews and currently has 247 in total! It’s not quite a record, but it’s closing in fast. An old story of mine, “Change of Heart” has a total of 258 — I’m having my own private and self-indulgent little race to see if “If you really” can beat it!

I’m still not sure why “Change of Heart” is so popular. It still regularly gets hundreds of hits each month. I think it is because it is the story in my list with the highest number of reviews. (Which goes back to my previous post about reviewing.) Other than that I’m at a loss, because I can’t say I think the story is any better than any of my other, more recent ones. It does have a lot of sex, though. Hot, House smut. Maybe that’s it.  😉

I finished writing “If you really” just before Christmas. I’m very pleased with how the ending turned out and how all the threads twisted together. There’s also a very “out there” scene towards the end that just popped in of its own accord, but I really like it and I think it is quite unusual and moving. Not giving anything more away — it will be posted within the next week or so!

We’re closing in fast on the end of the story. And I don’t have another one planned right now. I really want to try to spend some time on my non-House writing this month. My work is quieter at this time (being summer in the Southern Hemisphere) and it’s a good opportunity for me to concentrate. But you never know, something might pop up.

Oh, and before I go, thanks to all the lovely people who nominated me for the “Whiteboard Awards” over on the Fox Forum. It really is such an honour to be nominated along with some other wonderful authors. My only regret is that one of my stories from last year, “Rebirth”, isn’t eligible because I posted it on ff.net, not the forum. It is one of the stories from last year that I’m most proud of. But the rules is the rules!

Sorry, this isn’t a particularly fascinating post, but I just thought I’d pop in, let you know I was still alive, still intending to keep up this blog, and…. well, that’s about it. Promise I’ll be back soon with more of my (hopefully) scintillating stuff. Once “If you really” is complete, I’m planning to publish a post about how I felt about writing it and some DVD extras, “behind the scenes” stuff. Hopefully that might be interesting!

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The great and wise Gertrude Stein