lisa writes stories Issue #2 Aubrey Jones gets a life
nom de plume
After having conversations on and offline these past few weeks about Aubrey Jones Gets a Life (the working title I’ve settled on so I can stop calling it “untitled”), I’ve scrapped v2 and started v3. This sucks since I put in about 1500 words last Tuesday at my writers’ group with about 5,000 words total written. On Thursday, I started with a fresh idea and wrote 1500 words during my lunch hour with more that night.
I took some writing from v2 and mashed it with v3 and now I have my first chapter done. This is the farthest I’ve ever gotten in writing a book.
I know first drafts and first books are shit but I want my shit to be gleaming. I really believe in my story, and I’ll make as many changes as I need to.
At least it’ll be good practice.
Writing tends to fall under two types: plotting and pantsing. Plotting is where it sounds exactly what it is. You sit down, you write out an outline to get from A to Z, maybe drill down and get gist behind the chapters. You have a map on where you’re going to go.
Pantsing is where you sit down and just write. There may be some plotting in the story but overall, you’re writing freeform.
Pantsing is how I’ve been treating Aubrey Jones Gets a Life.
I have a general idea of how I want the story to go but I’m not sure how just yet. I’ve been spending time working on Aubrey (and friends) backstories, personalities, and mechanics of the book. It was really hard doing the character strengths and weaknesses because I wanted to give Aubrey some sass, but I didn’t want her to be a Mary Sue version of me. Authors are often asked “is there any bit of you in the story” and there is almost always an agreement that yes, there is. But, I don’t want Aubrey to be the idealized me, I want her to be her own person and she will have some aspects I’m comfortable writing about. For example, Aubrey is going to have anxiety which makes sense to who she is. It’s important for me to have a character with mental health issues in fiction because it’s so rarely shown in a compassionate way. I’m also going to make her a plus size gal because again, representation. And unlike me, Aubrey is going to be sure of herself and not tripped over diet culture. (My struggles with my weight are well documented in A Most Unreliable Narrator so I won’t go over them here.)
It's also important for older women to be represented as well so Aubrey is going to be in her early to mid 40s. One thing I grow tired of is women in their 40s (and 50s since I’m hanging out in this decade now) are often represented as frumpy, out of touch, bogged down by marriage and kids. My generation, the GenX generation, are not even close to being frumpy or out of touch and so Aubrey won’t be either. And it’s also taking into consideration she is childless by choice and has no regrets. I am making her love interest ten years younger than her which is in line with my own life since J is seven years younger than me (but acts 20 years older. He’s just discovered memes and is very proud of himself).
Sunday when I got home from Nashville, I deleted accounts of nom de plumes I had come up with over the years. I create Gmail, Twitter, and insta accounts like candy in front of a toddler for these names and do not end up using any of them. It felt pretty good doing the spring cleaning.
But one gone means another rise in its place. I came up with two non de plumes over the weekend that I really liked and just created Gmail accounts for them but that’s it. One is a variation of my mother’s middle name and my paternal grandmother’s maiden name, which is Scottish. The other is a name from one of my favorite fictional characters (from a very problematic book, boo) with a Scottish last name. I really like Best Kate’s last name but that would have been too creepy to use as a nom de plume. (I have a thing for Scottish last names.)
(I also did the googles searches for these names to make sure there were no other writers with these names and that if I publish under these names, it would be easy to find me.)
There is nothing wrong with my government name, it’s a good and sturdy name I’ve had for 50 years but stuff from the case still shows up after all these years and I don’t think I’m ever going to get rid of the taint that surrounds me.
This was my same reasoning years ago when I started traveling down the nom de plume road. I thought about changing my government name all together and using that to get rid of the case association. I submitted job applications and stories under that name but nothing every transpired, which I’m thankful for in the end because there is less of a mess to clean up.
(I did apparently publish a few flash pieces under a nome de plum but I cannot find them.)
I’ve got three distinct book ideas so I’m thinking I’ll use one of the nom de plumes for one of the books. My government name for one and maybe the other nom de plume for the third book.
Why is this important? Fucking branding y’all.
Nothing new to report.
My short story ,“The Opening Band Comments” which clocks in at 900 words, is a true story of sorts. J and I went to a concert a few years back where there were 12 people in attendance and the band rocked out as if they were playing in front of thousands. I wondered how the band felt about the low turnout so that’s the POV I wrote the story from.
The big question: Do you play for the love of music or do you play for the love of money? The band we’re opening for said for the money which is why they sold one of their songs to a printer company. “No one makes money off tours and albums anymore, man” the lead singer of the crappy band slurred one night after a particularly shitty show in Boston. “Even putting your music on Sound Cloud, Spotify, or even selling individual singles don’t do it anymore. We’re now a ‘brand’,” he air quotes, “and the only way to make money is to sell yourself out.” The lead singer looks impressed with his final words, turns on his heels and stalks back to his hanger-ons.
This story has been rejected from three places, so I sent it into a contest. I know that seems a bit odd, but the contest promised full edits and that’s something I really want for this piece. I think it’s good and should live outside my brain. In the notes to the editor, I explained all of this, and I have no thought if it would place but the edits will be very much welcomed.