by Nancy G. West
(My author confesses.__Aggie Mundeen)
I’m a writer. I know a lot of writers. I confess to you now that we are all weird.
1. For us, writing is not a past time, hobby or someday-I-will fantasy. It’s an obsession; we must do it. If we don’t, we get cranky or bitchy, depending on gender. For us, writing is a biological need, like sleeping, eating or sex. We can go awhile without it, but don’t expect us to remain charming. I can be away from the chance to write for a week or ten days. After that, count on my being testy.
2. We share a fetish for writing paraphernalia: pencils, pens, notebooks, colored inks. Binders and and pencil cups draw us like ants to sugar. The office/school supply section of Office Depot, the grocery store or the pharmacy beckon to us like nymphs from The Odyssey or Brother, Where Art Thou.
Don’t I need that pen? If I write my words inside that tantalizing leather journal, won’t my renderings be unforgettable? If I reorganize my office with those beautiful accessories, won’t my writing improve a thousand percent?
Time out for individual confessions:
I use violet ink, so none of the guys in the house want to use them or mysteriously walk off with them. __Layna Carlisle
I rat-hole pens and pencils in remote cubbyholes of the house without realizing I’ve done it. Until my husband finds them. __ Me.
3. Writers are creative in other areas. We paint, sculpt, are gourmet cooks, fashionistas, decorators, and musicians. I like to tile table tops. We call these things our hobbies. Actually, they are ways to rest our writer brains while we happily maintain our creativity. We LOVE to go to Hobby Lobby, Michaels, Lowe’s, furniture showrooms, open houses, museums, art shows, sculpture galleries—any place that abounds with creative possibilities. We struggle to resist plunging into new projects that we know will suck time and energy from our writing.
4. We are constantly working. You think we’re taking time off to enjoy that movie with you? Well, yes, but we’re also dissecting the plot, studying characters, and noting how setting affects the story. Can my work use something from this? I admit it. We are thieves. We read newspapers searching for plot lines and books with an eye to structure, pacing, character development and word choices. We enjoy the book, too, but we see underpinnings and overlays.
5. Each book we write is a birth and a death complete with five stages of grief:
a. Denial. What made me think I was a writer? I cannot write a new book. The last one I wrote was a fluke. I should quit. Now. While I can hold up my head.
b. Anger. What possessed me to sign a contract? How can they expect me to write one or two books a year? Could they do it? I’ll tear up the contract and make them sue me. It will be less painful. I’ll write the book when I’m ready.
c. Bargaining. Okay. I’ll give it a try. I’ve written books before. The other one(s) came out all right. How hard can it be? I’ll plead illness and negotiate for an extended contract.
d. Depression. Other writers say they write crappy first drafts. Not this crappy. How did I ever write this drivel? Whipping this puppy into shape is impossible. I’ll never write another good book. This fiasco is going into a drawer. I’m a goner.
e. Acceptance. There are parts here that aren’t so bad. With some rearranging, cutting, and rewriting, I see possibilities. There was only one Shakespeare. Didn’t somebody say, ‘Writing is re-writing?’ Okay. I can do this.
The book comes out. People like it. Reviews are good. I begin to believe what the reviewers say.
Until the next time . . .
This article first appeared in FreshFiction Blog
The author is still weird.