Don’t Hijack the Armrest

I’m halfway through a revision of my manuscript. This time to fully and completely remove any trace of dystopian in it. It’s like yanking a piece of my heart out, but it’s going to be the best thing in the end. I am so excited about it, but I digress.  This blog will be about something else. Also, contains no spoilers.

This weekend I was thinking about the differences in us, as writers, readers, as people. I went to see The Maze Runner on Friday night.  (Because: Opening Night!) About 30 seconds before the movie started, this couple, older than me, but not yet getting the Sr. citizen discount, sat beside me in the open seats. (Very nearly last open seats, mind you. Movie was packed!)

First of all, the guy totally hijacked the arm rest so I had to sit with my arms folded throughout the movie, which is problematic for someone with neck/back issues, but isn’t the worst thing. The worst thing is that he almost hijacked my movie-watching experience by scoffing at the entire movie. The man kept shaking his head when Thomas would do something he thought was stupid. Granted, Thomas does jump into things without thinking but uh…THAT IS THE POINT OF THE STORY, somebody has to do something to attempt to get them out of there, right? Otherwise, it’s just a bunch of grimy boys standing around flinging insults at each other.

It was distracting. I really wanted to go, “Look guy, you try waking up in a box and being locked inside a maze and see how YOU deal with, okay?”  Seriously, did they not see a trailer, read a review, even glance two seconds at the movie poster? What did they expect from this movie?

I almost lost it at the end when [the thing that happened] happened and the guy next to me laughed.  There were people around me (and me) gasping, sniffling, awing. Not armrest hijacker. No, he was laughing. I wanted to punch him.

(Perhaps this is the time to mention I’m on day 5 of a 10-day steroid treatment. That could have something to do with my violent response to his reaction.)

After the movie, he and his wife, couldn’t stop declaring how horrible the movie was. She lamented spending good money on it and not being able to get it back. He griped and called it stupid about a hundred times. So, feeling completely insulted on behalf of James Dashner, I turned to them and said I liked the movie a lot. Then I suggested they read the book because it had a lot more detail in it.

Which prompted the guy to then laugh hysterically at me for even suggesting such nonsense. “Never!” he said. “No way would I waste my time like that.”

I shrugged and begged my daughter to get me away from the haters, then we left.

Of course, those people have every right to dislike (and openly declare their dislike) for the movie. It really doesn’t matter. To me. To the producers. To James Dashner. It’s not the end of the world. (Literally as the sequel movie is already in the works.) The fact that armrest hijacker and I had such vast differences of enjoyment over the same piece of art just…struck me, I guess. That’s what makes art, art. It’s completely subjective and each person brings something to it and away from it and their experience is undeniably unique to each of them.

As a person who creates a form of artwork, I find that pretty inspiring. It’s my job to bring my story to life the way it is in my head based on my experiences, my voice, my research, etc. The reader takes that and overlays their own experiences, perceptions, and knowledge. It makes me wish I could climb inside the mind of each person who will read my story and experience it the way they will.  Each and every time someone reads it, it will become a different experience. How cool is that?

To everyone who will ever read any of my work, I ask one favor of you—please don’t hijack the armrest.


Give Me a Break

If you’ve followed along playing the home version of our game, you’ll know that I took some time off from EVERGREEN to work a little bit on another manuscript. (As yet untitled.) I pulled EVERGREEN back out for Pitch Wars and I discovered something. What they say is true–sometimes the best thing you can do is give yourself a little break from your work. 

I can’t recommend this process enough. If you’re a writer, you really should try it. 

But Michelle…


I know, I know. It’s hard. It was for me too,but it was the best thing for my manuscript and dare I say, for my sanity. 

The time away working on another MS gave me perspective. I easily saw a couple things that weren’t working, so I changed them. It made the MS better. In fact, I reordered the first 4 chapters and found a better starting place for the story. (Also thanks, in part, to a Pitch Wars mentor tweet!) I don’t think I ever would have done that had I not looked at it with fresh perspective. 

I discovered something else too, Well, rather, I rediscovered something–my love for this story and its characters. That probably sounds silly to non-writery types, but it is undeniably true. These characters are like real people to me. When I visited them again, I remembered why I loved them. I found that I had missed them. It was like catching up with friends. And like with my non-imaginary friends, I want them to do well and prosper. Unlike with my non-imaginary friends, I get to torture them to allow that growth. I found some new ways to do that, adding depth and emotion to them. 

If you can’t bear to put away your whole MS for a couple months, try it on a smaller scale. I wrote two versions of a 1-pg synopsis for an upcoming retreat. I had trouble deciding on which version was better. I fretted over it for a while, then I left it alone. Three days later (today) I read them again and it was easy to tell which one was the better version. Boom. Done. 

I’m continuing with my WIP, but I’m taking Frankie out of the corner for querying and the retreat. Hopefully the perspective I gained from my time away will end in an triumphant finale complete with a well-timed lift and Patrick Swayze levels of swooning. 

dirty dancing fly