Friday, April 1, 2016

The Odd Ones




Writers are an odd lot. We don’t think like most folk. A chat group with writers is an adventure, even for a fellow writer. Thinking out of the box is one way to describe it, but parameters outside of the universe might be a better description.

Simple statements, or observations, spontaneously explode into scenes, characterizations, and mini-plots, and this is just when chatting. Even I roll my eyes at some of the far fetched, but insanely funny, rabbit holes we follow.

Yes, it’s true. Thriller/suspense writers have an odd collection of files that could garner the attention of Homeland Security. Writers can remember every interesting conversation we’ve overheard, but forget to put coffee in the coffee pot, and stare blankly at the clear water pouring out, wondering what happened.

It isn’t that we are not intelligent, or forgetful. We are distracted. While making coffee, one or two story lines fill our minds. We see the scene playing out, which keeps us from seeing other things, like the task at hand.

“You talk like a writer.” I have always wondered what that means, exactly. I don’t quite understand how my choice of words is that much different from non-writers. Then, as most of my friends are fellow authors, our pattern of speech and word choices just seem normal to me, but obviously not to others.

We all have that faraway look in our eyes when a story idea hits. My husband has stopped asking me what I am thinking. Family just continues conversation, knowing I’ll join back in, eventually.
Yes, I do carry a note pad and pen with me everywhere, and I have prayed for red lights so I could write down an idea. I would like to have some kind of recorder, but I would still need pen and paper. Dissecting different ways of sneaking into a building, or killing someone, spoken aloud into a recorder while having lunch at McDonalds might not be in my best interest. Then, on second thought, it might be fun — until the SWAT team shows up.

I still occasionally shock my husband. The other day, I was madly writing on a piece of scrap paper while brushing my teeth.

Unable to stand the suspense any longer, he asked, “Is that the grocery list you’re writing?”

His face had a classic expression when I told him, “No. My MC has just told me what she should do in the opening scene of book four, and I am trying to write it down before I forget.”

Writers view the world differently. An artist sees lights, shadows, hues. A writer sees odd characters, suspicious conversations, and ulterior motives. When life sends us lemons we smile, more scenes for our next book. We use friends and family as character models. Of course, we don’t tell them this. We quietly write the pluses and minus of their personalities, until they make us angry. Then  we knock their character off in some vile way, or generally make their lives miserable. Anything and everything can show up in our writing, even our own faux pas, expertly disguised as someone else’s mistake. (We hope!)

We also feel deeply, empathize easily, and can see both sides to almost every issue. In order to write it, we must explore all aspects, delve into the motives and reasons our characters act the way we have portrayed. It has to be realistic and natural, even if it isn’t necessarily something we would do. To write it, we must understand it, feel it, and live it. Then we share it, writing the words, pouring out the emotion, revealing our deepest thoughts in front of the entire world, and hoping the world doesn’t rip it apart. However, when that happens, we cry, we wail, we pound our desks, and we mope. Then, we start again.

We are an odd lot, willingly subjecting ourselves to self-imposed torture. We can’t help it. To write is to breath. 

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