Wednesday, November 16, 2011
One is the loneliest number
So often writing is considered a lonely profession. Now as a mother of two—two boys under the age of two for that matter—I can hardly remember a time when I felt lonely. But even when the kids are tucked in for the night, and my husband is in blissful slumber beside me while I hammer away on my laptop into the wee hours of the morning, I seldom feel alone. My characters have become these real people I spend time with. Sometimes they balk at my suggestions of how they should respond, laugh along as I initiate witty banter on their behalf, or cry as I tear open the old wounds hidden in their pasts. So while my life as a writer seems to be a solitary endeavor, I find I am constantly accompanied by these crazy people I have created. Scary to be an adult and have imaginary friends, no? And when I am crafting these stories centered on redemption and grace, God’s presence seems so heavy, so tangible. At times it almost feels like an act of worship. Pretty cool when you think about it.
But yes, if we are going to be literal, when we write most often we are alone. We don’t report to the office, converse with other writers on the way to our desk, eyeball the quirky secretary and jot down a few of her unique mannerisms to include for that free-spirited extra in Chapter 12. We sit at home, alone. No shop talk with the boys at the water cooler, no shameful gossip from the neighboring cubicle.
This whole break room concept came to me from my hubby. Now, my man does not work in an office building. He works with his hands, at a job site. And a far too dangerous job for my comfort, however, with the exception of the things I ask him to sensor for my own sanity, his amusing tales of ‘on the job’ mishaps and, yes, drama, always stir my creativity. Whether it be a frustrating setback with their equipment or the homeless man shivering at the gate of the parking lot, accepting my amazing husband’s sweatshirt, even though he would need it for the rest of the day. This shop talk is universal in the working world, not just to bring home to the wife and kids as an answer to the standard “How was your day?” curiosity.
What about you as a writer? Or even a reader for that matter? Did you have a sympathetic ear to share that struggle with your protagonist? Or that victory of seeing those tiny pieces come together? Now I love my husband, but he does not fully appreciate my “I finished this first kiss scene and I think it really sizzles.” Or “I don’t know what to do about this lull in the middle of the suspense, what do you think?” The whole process just doesn’t compute. Just like I often can’t be fully sympathetic to his plight about the work-site woes. I simply am not coming from the same place.
What was your work day like? Did you edit, write the funniest scene that you laughed out loud at yourself, or struggle over one measly page of painful writer’s blocked prose?
If you need another outlet aside from your “Honey, how was your day?... Let’s take a break and talk shop. Anyone? Anyone? …Bueller?