Friday, November 15, 2013

The Writer's Life (Lately)

by Elizabeth

So plugging along on my WIP, I find that my life has taken a very writerly turn as of late. Not that I wasn't a writer before, not that I didn't write (ahem, it was a pretty dry summer), not that I didn't see the world like a writer...

But lately, it's a little more so. I don't know if that's because I am getting encouragingly close to finishing the first draft of this project, or if it's because I'm making and meeting goals, but I do know this: it's pretty fun.

A few days ago, I did a very writerly thing: I went to a midday movie. Movies are an excellent source of research for the writer, mind you, teaching us a great deal about plotting and structure and story. Plus, there's popcorn. Plus, it was a buck, and I'm a big cheapskate, so my heart was thrilled. Anyway, before the movie started I eavesdropped on three senior citizens, two of them on an apparently very cheap date (I don't think the guy even bought her ticket! for a dollar!), the other one I guess tagging along and seeking relationship advice himself. Do you think I should ask Shirley out, he asked (and I should say, I wasn't even much eavesdropping so much as being in the same theater); and aren't all the people on our floor so very nice; and the chicken soup they served last night was terrific. I texted Pamela (it was still during the commercials, not even previews, and my phone screen was nothing to hearing about Stan's colonoscopy, trust me), telling her that you can't make this stuff up, and wondering if I'd stick it in my manuscript somehow, or maybe just a blog post. And here it is.

Wednesday I had coffee with the terrific Karen Harrington, and as we drank our chai (her) and cappuccino (me), we talked books and publication and how sometimes you get the gift of a story coming to you whole if you are lucky, and other times it's like a medieval jousting ring and you don't even have a horse. She signed a couple of copies of her book for me, and then she toddled off to Trader Joe's and I toddled home, and then I wrote a thousand words before I had to pick up my kids.

Yesterday I planned to write a couple thousand words, and then spent the morning trying to figure out what the heck they should be. I scribbled out a couple hundred, maybe, and then decided I needed a shower to clear my mind and get the juices flowing. As I dried my hair, a new idea occurred to me, and then I spent some time thinking about how it would affect the story, the storytelling, and if I was just adding fat for the sake of word count. I wasn't, and by the time I went to bed, I had more words on the page and a better story arc for a secondary character supporting the actions of my main character. Not bad for a day when I also finished up two games of Words with Friends, huh?

I, I, I. But this is really more about everyone else than it is about me. I could have shushed Stan and his pals, but instead I listened, and maybe one day they'll read a story that was influenced by their conversation and never know they played a small role in its creation. The meeting with Karen was so that I could pass her book on to some people who I hope will love it as much as I did. And yesterday as I thought and planned, I went back and forth with Joan (hello again, texting) lamenting and yahooing about this crazy thing we call creation.

It's true the writing life can be a solitary one at times, and that it should be, needs to be. But it also needs to be fed, by strangers, by friends, by colleagues, by life. To keep it moving, as it should.

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