On Being A Writer
Being a book writer is a strange thing. I don’t plot and plan or write outlines, for me it is puking – one long puke until the story is done. It’s not what the world would call healthy, and trust me when I say it takes as much as it gives. It is amazing when I see the finished product, but going through the process feels like being jailed and tortured. I can’t sleep, I can’t enjoy other things, and my mind is constantly on whether or not I used the right word or the proper comma in any given sentence. I dream in Word and write in my sleep.
When it is done and finished I feel wasted, often times looking at the scales in horror and seeing the pounds I’ve gained as I sat in front of the keyboard making all the things right.
In the last year, I’ve written and published two novels – it wasn’t my plan or a considered decision, it was simply what happened. I am pleased to say that I also planted plants, made some quilts, and kept most of our little family (and garden) alive – RIP Dum Dum, my chicken.
I have admired writers since I could read, but I wonder if they suffer as I have – I figure many did, and that leads me to believe I’m in good company. So now that The Thing in Lucy Doyle is out in the world - I’ll clean the house, get on the elliptical trainer, and try to get my body, house, and mind back in shape, while almost fearing the next inspiration.
I am married to a musician who writes songs for himself, and gets paid for writing songs for others, and he often comments that he writes something that lasts a few minutes, while I enrapture the reader for hours. Thankfully, he is an understanding man as I get caught on a wave that takes me off to far places and I am lucky if I land on my feet.
The Thing In Lucy Doyle kicked my butt. It’s a good book. I suppose many writers feel my angst, as we don’t know from where the ideas come, from where those characters are hatched, or where the drama and humor develops. Sometimes I feel as though things work through me, much in the same way I have with plants and animals. I call that God, but I know what an unpopular belief that is these days.
Some would call it talent, which I hesitate to, since most of my English teachers clarified to me how dumb and inept I was - until I reached my senior year and met Carol Holland (the new book is dedicated to her). She taught a Speech and Drama (she also taught English and Journalism) class that I took, just wanting to fill the electives and get the hell out of schooling. She pointed out to me how the class would grow quiet when I stepped to the podium to give my speech, preordained week by week by her parameters. She would often ask what I was working on, and if she could read it. And she told me many times how she couldn’t wait for an autographed book written by me. She passed away a couple years after I left school, and many years before I finally accepted I was supposed to write things.
So I guess I am a writer - I only know that because I have written and sold things, and have gathered a few good reviews from people I don’t know. I imagine writers are much like cave dwellers, rarely coming into the attention of others – except for the words. I wish I could be Stephen King with a huge gate outside, illustrated in wrought iron spiders; or Dean Koontz, living on a mountain in California with his golden retrievers; or Hemingway on an incredible piece of land in the Keys with too many cats to count; but I am Vicki, living in the ghetto and throwing up novels as they hit me. Sometimes they pay for themselves; sometimes they simply pay the light or water bill.
I will keep writing - although I figure I will never be able to afford King’s gate, Koontz’s retrievers, or Hemingway’s cats. I will listen to the thing that pours through me and needs a voice, I will lift up those characters who jump in my mind at the worst times, and I will listen to them speak as I type desperately trying to hear every word. I will hold my head high as those who haven’t read my books tell me I am beneath them, simply because I don’t have a college degree or they have no faith in God.
Some things are simply good. Sometimes love comes without reason, and as a woman I always struggle with those who don’t understand loss. As I writer, I am dismayed by those who want the ultimate experience without having done the work to understand it fully.
So here I sit, a storm brewing outside, the thunder rolling. Here I sit, writing this blog, knowing I need to get the chickens to bed, and cook dinner for me and my guy, and feed the inside critters, but yet feeling a bit beat up.
That’s what novel writing does to you, or at least to me – it kicks my butt. But I know it is worth it - it’s worth every second to see Lucy Doyle, or Roxy Moon Stone, or Abbey, or Emma, or all the others to have their time to tell their tale.
Writers – we’re a mess. Not like musicians or doctors or soldiers who get their time in the spotlight, or at least in the flames, blood, or applause. Writers – we hide in the dark, throwing out words hoping someone will not just see us, but grasp our words, and understand them.
As always, keep seeking and keep trying.