Monday, January 19, 2015

Our Five Star College Resort

Five Golden Stars Isolated

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you know that we live very near a major university and have been blessed with having our kids live at home as they attend classes (thereby saving everyone a lot of money). My husband, who thinks the kids are getting a great deal, refers to our home as the Five-Star Keller College Resort. However, having four independent, strong-willed adults under one roof is sometimes…interesting. Such things are best handled with humor.

Lately, a student/resident lodged a complaint with the management about the winter temperature of the resort. I think the phrase “Our house is an ice pit” may have been used. I believe I responded, “Wear more clothing.”

When I realized that breathing formed clouds, I bought one of the residents a space heater.

This is the note I left in the room of our guest:

“The Keller College Resort has noted the current heating problem and has taken steps to remedy the situation. We hope this will allow us to maintain our current five star rating. Sincerely, The Management”

I found this note later on my bed:

“Resident Keller would like to remind the management that they currently only have three stars. However, he is still thankful for the snazzy new heating element that resident Jacob will be jealous of.”

I love my kids. 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Five Things Only a Writer Would Say

In the spirit of full disclosure, these are not things I’ve said aloud to other people. Except my family. Hmm. Maybe that’s why all my kids have gone into math and science.

One. “I can’t decide whether to use the word said or told.” Nuances of meaning eat hours of time.

Two. “Why won’t my character tell me the truth?” Yes, I know the characters exist only in my mind. I create them. But that doesn’t mean I know them. It takes a while to get to know them. And just like real people, characters lie. Even to their authors. (And in case you’re wondering, I’ve never used perception-altering substances. I was born this way. Wait…that sounds worse.)

Three. “Uh, the NSA doesn’t really monitor our Google searches, right?” I actually know they don’t, because if they did…I’d be arrested. I mean seriously, I’ve Googled everything from medieval poisons to how to make a murder look like an accident to schematics for a dumbwaiter. (Okay, the dumbwaiter thing isn’t too threatening, but I could be planting a bomb on a dumbwaiter.)

Four. Speaking of arrests, another writer once said to me, “You know, if we got arrested and went to prison, we’d have lots of time to write.” (I admit that thought has crossed my mind too.) I pointed out that one isn’t arrested for jaywalking, our most probable crime, and she agreed that it wasn’t likely we’d get sent to prison—unless the NSA really does monitor Google searches. In the meantime, I’ll keep juggling writing, housework, regular work, cooking, ironing, etc.

Five. “I wish I’d been shot in the thigh.” When one of my characters had been shot, I was finding it hard to describe the sensation of a bullet puncturing the skin/muscle and Google had only so much to offer, so I was wishing for personal experience. Of course, the moment I wished this, I realized that had I been shot I’d be in shock and probably wouldn’t remember anything. Sigh.

Since finding this image (courtesy of Wikimedia),  I don't think #4 will ever cross my mind again,
especially since I really like writing while lounging on my couch. 

Thursday, January 8, 2015

The Real Romance of Writing

File:Chile - Santiago 43b - antique typerwriter (6834276976).jpg
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

This week I started writing a new book.

Writers write novels in many different ways. Some have complete outlines detailing every plot twist. Others, like me, have only a general idea. (I usually begin a novel when I figure out the novel’s beginning, ending, main characters, and how to tell the story—structure, point of view, etc.)

And as exciting as the fresh page/blank computer screen is when you type “Chapter One,” it’s also terrifying. You can’t help but think about the thousands of hours ahead. Because as romantic as being a writer sounds, it’s more than ten thousand hours in a chair by yourself, fighting with language. And plot and characters. Yes, characters are imaginary, but they are like children, born with their own will and agenda. They are two year olds who stomp their feet and refuse to eat peas even though they loved them yesterday.

Lest I mislead you into believing the tortured artist cliché, the aloneness doesn’t bother me. I’m introverted by nature. So I’d rather be in a quiet room arm wrestling verbs than trying to calm an irrational customer. (I worked in customer service the summer between high school and college and discovered that my job was to let people vent. “Why yes, our company is made up of a bunch of losers and idiots. Thanks for noticing.”)

So compared to that, hours of chair-sitting doesn’t seem so bad. But the real reason, I’m brave enough to face that first page is because a few weeks ago in the mystical stretch of time between sleep and wake, Darcy, Meredith, Peter, and Priscilla told me bits of their story. And I have to find out the rest. That’s the romance of writing.