When I was writing the rough draft of The Goddess of Vengeance Wore Pink Galoshes last month, I sat in Starbucks one Saturday morning and poured out the story of Lauren intervening in a dog-fighting ring.
Literally, poured. I typed away, sniffling over my latte, swiping my tears quickly away and hoping no one would notice me. Writing the raw details of that scene, forcing my imagination to really go there -- the smell of feces and infection, the matted fur and open wounds caused by a chain collar, the delicate cat bones in muck -- just broke my heart knowing that really happens to some animals. I read more details than I wanted to when Vick's case got so much attention, but I still tried to keep from really thinking about it. While writing, that wasn't an option.
But now my challenge for this story is to turn every scene where Lauren and Nemesis intervene into the same thing. At times during the rough draft, I tried to cheat - being purposefully vague about the terrible thing Lauren was going to stop. It's hard to come up with myriad ways for people to hurt each other, and you know what? While there's a seemingly endless array to be turned up by Google, I don't want to think about it.
I started Goddess out with a theme in mind: the idea that vengeance is personal, but justice is societal. Lauren would need to find a way to reconcile the Goddess of Vengeance with her ethical concept of justice. But sometimes novels diverge a little from where we expect, and that's the case here. The story ended up being about Lauren just being willing to see what it is others go through, even in the most painful of times - the times she can't actually help. My theme is our responsibility to recognize suffering - forget about the whole vengeance/justice subject (that's why there will have to be a sequel ;)).
Of course, a book with the title The Goddess of Vengenace Wore Pink Galoshes is going to be funny, too - it's not an entirely dark book. But my challenge now is to write each of those scenes as something that makes me want to embarrass myself in Starbucks. That forces me to think about it, just like Lauren has no choice to...
6 hours ago