First I would be remiss to say nothing about the passing of Bob Shepperd and George Steinbrenner. Both were staples in the Yankee community and earned the love and respect of fans across the country. They will be sorely missed.
Second. It’s true. We are a bit strange, we writers. See my last post and comments concerning how we come up with names for our characters for examples including, but not limited to, baby books. eavesdropping, and eureka moments in the car.
Another reason why I have reached this conclusion sprang from a writing book I was reading yesterday. The book was entitled Write Great Fiction: Description and Setting by Ron Someone or Other (I don’t have the book on me to reference and am far too lazy to just Google it at the moment). The advice he imparted to his readership went something as follows:Tote a small legal pad or post-its and pens around with you at all times and pay attention to details. This way you can transcribe these details and remember them to therefore use them to aid you in your descriptions for a story at a later date.
Such advice will not at all seem strange to a writer because – odds are – if you’re a very serious writer you do this anyway. You love the details. You note them regardless of advice from a writing book and copy down what it is about them that caught your eye and inspire you. You sit in the Borders cafe and write about the particular way she smirked snarkily at him. You jot down on your napkin how the little boy’s lip quivered as he teetered dangerously on the precipice of good behavior and full-blown tantrum. Sometimes you follow the lady from the cafe to the self-help section and memorize how she flipped through the relationship books, revealing her tattered love affair she just ended the other day. Sometimes you even sit concealed in the bookshelves and exercise your espionage skills while gathering ammunition from unsuspecting passers-by. It is part of your everyday writing life.
But think about it – that’s weird. Who does that? Stalkers. Creepers. People other people call the police on. Do you care? Of course not. You need to do all the above actions. How can your create genuine characters if you do not have material from genuine people?
Another tell-tale action of a writer to which the general populace may not ascribe: talking to themselves. We all do it, don’t deny it. Our best dialogue comes from the times we are alone in our cars and we actually say it aloud, adopting different voiced and personas for each character. Sometimes we even forget to close the windows and other people hear snippets of the “conversation,” eliciting confused stares. After all, there is only one person in the car, so why are they hearing two voices? They then stomp on the gas pedal with all possible haste and leave you in the dust when the light turns green.
And who can blame them? To a random outsider, generally when a person is speaking to herself in different tones, she is weird.
My final piece of evidence comes in the very form of what writers live and breathe to do: make up fictional people, places and things. For whatever reason, our lives bore us (even if it’s just a teeny bit) and we feel compelled to create the people we wish to be in the time and place in which we believe is the best fit for our personalities. We concoct villains and fantastic scenarios to live the drama and wild adventures we wish we could through our characters. Talk about living vicariously through others.
Once again, most people probably don’t do this. That makes us weird.
But, without this introverted dialogue, fantastical imaginings and stalker-like behavior our writing would not be the masterpiece into which is blossoms. Books would not be written. Plays would not be penned. Stories would be left untold. How many times do you want to bet Shakespeare spoke out To Be or Not to Be to the looking-glass? Austen and the Bronte’s more than likely enacted Mr. Darcy and their other respective heroes sweeping their respective heroines off their feet in the confines of their carriages and phaetons. Stephen King … not going there.
Without the espionage, stalking, eavesdropping, talking to selves and just general habits that non-writers would deem odd are essential ingredients to the creation of literature. I would rather be considered weird by people I don’t know than forfeit my writing. We need it to write. We need our writing to be the best it can be both for publication and our own personal gratification.
Writers, embrace your weirdness. You’re not weird. Anyone who ever penned any small bit of fiction went through the exact same process as you did.
It’s the only way we’ll produce new books. And Lord knows the world needs books.
But if anyone needs confirmation that I myself am a bit of an odd duck, check out this picture of me doing construction on the Home Makeover a few weeks ago. Everyone else posed nicely, but I chose to: