Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Writers, Writing Everywhere

by Elizabeth

A few weeks ago, the WWW gang (minus Julie, plus Kim's mom) got together for one or our too-infrequent lunches. As we munched on pasta and sandwiches at Grapevine's Main Street Bakery*, we talked about our lives and our kids, about travel past and travel future, about ideas big and small. Oh, and about writing, of course.

I'd had an airport run earlier that morning, and thus a convenient excuse to hit the bakery early and settle in for a luxurious hour with my book. (The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, which I later waved in everyone's faces as a must-read), half listening to the women at the next table as they hunched together over a laptop, working out the language for what seemed to be an invite for some sort of professional gala. "Maybe capitalize wonderful," the one in the skirt suggested, and the other woman's tendon twitched as her finger reached for the shift key.

It was all I could do to keep myself from intervening. "They need a writer," I thought with wonder, keeping my giggle inside. Six of us would soon fill a table, every one gifted in wordsmithery (and hopefully masters of avoiding inappropriate caps). Not everyone is a writer, it would seem.

Yet writers are everywhere.

Earlier that same week, I greeted a friend at our sons' Boy Scout meeting. We've talked books often in the six years since Kindergarten, so asking what she was reading was a given. "My friend's book just came out!" she gushed. (This woman is a big gusher, and I don't promise I'll never base a character on her.) I'd forgotten she'd mentioned her friend's contract maybe a year ago, so asked for a refresher. Her friend? None other than Amy Bourret, who Pamela interviewed here just a few weeks ago. Small world.

Then Kay Thomas walked in. Talk about small world: At camp earlier this summer her husband had mentioned a guy from Ohio, a guy they befriended after seeing him perform at The Eisemann Center, and it turned out to be someone I'd dated briefly and hilariously almost twenty years ago. That "oh, wow" moment led to other coincidences, finally landing on this: She's a writer, too.

Across the cafeteria, another mom caught my eye and we waved: another writer, a sci-fi/fantasy aspirant, involved with a critique group and conferences and learning the query dance.

Those writers, man. They are everywhere. And yet those poor women with their misplaced capitals and effusive exclamation points (I peeked, shh) either didn't have the budget to hire one or didn't know they needed one or maybe just lacked the writer-dar that I've developed over the past few years.

Another thing about those writers: Boy, do they write! At lunch, as we reminisced about our retreat last November and plotted the one upcoming, I recalled Susan curled into a chair on the bricked patio of our rental house, fingers tapping a snappy tattoo on her laptop. Recalled Kim's cramped workspace in her living room, a corner stolen from the buzz of family life but still at times a momento-laced haven where she steals chunks of time and translates hours into words. Pamela, somehow weaving between her day job of making root canals sound interesting and spinning aching hilarity into her fiction. Joan, who I always imagine writing in navy silk man-style pajamas, her hair bound with a pencil like a Katherine Hepburn character, writing her way through the morning until hunger driven to the kitchen for a late lunch. And Julie, absent that day, but someone who, when I wake in the night and glance at the clock to see 1:11 glowing on my clock, I think of and suspect of pounding the keyboard, the productive night owl.

And there are others. One critique group friend, the lawyer-dad of three young sons, once told me he wrote the bulk of his (hilarious! excellent! I hate him, of course) novel in ten minute snatches. Another guy's day job is at night, a hotel security guard, and as he monitors security cameras he strikes out pages and pages of fresh fantasy. My conference pal Sharon takes to her mountain cabin whenever possible, and settles in for fourteen hour writing marathons as the New Mexico sun rises and sets in the thin air outside. And me? Cafes, restaurants, the occasional grocery store. (Very glamorous, I know.) Today, in my car outside my kids' school as the rain hammers the roof.

These writers. They're everywhere. All over the place, hanging out, working hard, and writing, writing, writing.

*Are there any readers who have somehow failed to note my obsession with food?


  1. Man, I need to move up by you! Not only for the great baked goods, but for the writers. There must be writers around here somewhere, but I just haven't found them yet.

    This is a beautifully written piece!

  2. If only my writing attire were half as glamorous as you've described! Heading out to the shops to buy some silky man-pjs now. Will bring to the retreat.

  3. My "momento laced haven" is at the moment covered in piles of mostly kid-related papers. Not sure why they put stuff on my desk when they both have large bedrooms! Yet, still I write.

  4. Food obsession, you? Never ;)


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