Friday, December 10, 2010

How I Write

All these bestselling authors out there are selling even more books about how they went about writing those other books. To me this is a little like an artist painting a picture of himself painting a picture. But . . . if it's good enough for bestselling authors, than it's good enough for an unpublished author of three completed novels and about a dozen novels with the first chapter written. Yeah, me.

There are two ways that I write.

Way number one—Husband/Children will be at work/at school/away for the weekend/sleeping/playing at the neighbor's house/all of the above and I will think to myself: I should take advantage of such a divine opportunity and write something. Yes! I will write undisturbed!

I turn on my computer.

Wow, this computer is filthy, I need to get some of those computer wipey things. What the heck have I spilled on here? I think it's milk. I shouldn't eat cereal in front of the computer anymore. Ooh, cereal, I'm hungry. I'm going to have a bowl of cereal.

I eat cereal.

Hum, there was something I was going to do . . . yes! . . . I was going to write computer wipey thingy on my shopping list.

I write computer wipey thingy on my shopping list.

Okay, I should write some since I have free time. Let me open up Microsoft Word. Okay, that's taking FOREVER to open. I'll get on-line real quick. Ooh, look, Keane has a new album out, I should download that.

I download Keane album and listen to it while I do my toes or something.

Ehh, I don't really like this one. I think I'll listen to it again. I still don't like it. Okay, I'll listen to it one more time and then I'm going to write.

I listen to album one more time.

Okay, I kind of like it. Now I'll write. "It was the best of times, it was the worst of time." . . . wait, that sounds familiar. Hmm, let's see . . . what should I write about? Maybe something about a boy who's really a wizard only he doesn't know it and he goes to this secret wizarding school and it can be call Warthogs or something!!! Wait . . . I think that's been done already. Hmm, I'll check Facebook while I'm thinking about what to write.

I check Facebook.

Wow, that girl who sat next to me in study hall in the tenth grade had a ham sandwich for lunch. That's really . . . not interesting.

You get the gist.

Way number two—I will be in the middle of cooking supper/folding laundry/helping kids with homework/cleaning the house/all of the above when a few sentences of inspiration will hit me. I run to my computer to turn it on, only to find that the battery is dead. I delve into the laptop bag, unable to find power cord. I race around the house and finally find laptop power cord hanging from ceiling fan with a GI Joe guy attached and only find out later that power cord was the essential element in an elaborate device meant to defeat Cobra.

I plunge the power cord in the wall, repeating the inspiration sentences over and over in my head. I turn the computer on and hop from one foot to other like my kids do when they have to use the bathroom REALLY bad.

The chicken needs to come out of the oven, so I quickly take it out while repeating my inspiration sentences that are being infiltrated by words like, "Mom, watch this," and "he hit me," and "how do you spell Powhatan?" I yell quickly at children that if they just don't speak for five minutes, I will buy them each a pony.

My computer asks me if I want to update my whatevs and I yell at it too. Finally, I get on Microsoft Word and type furiously at a twenty page per minute speed with three children screaming in my ear and me shushing them the whole time. I decide that my main character has no children.

Husband comes home from work and mutters something about how I am always writing. I decide that main character's husband is a deeply understanding man who loves the superfluous doings of his dear wife.

Children try to see how many times they can say, "Mommy, watch this," before I throw something at them. (Not that I ever have, so you don't need to call child protective services just yet.) I decide that my main character lives on a dessert island all by herself, with no hope of rescue. I think I'll title it: A Hundred Years of Solitude . . . Sounds Like a Good Start.

But . . . when main character is without all a sundry distractions, then main character can't do what she most wants to do. It is only with a few essential, sometimes irritating, elements that main character can achieve what she most desires.

Who said that art imitates life anyway?


  1. Hollie, I would love to be on a dessert island by myself; well, on second thought, I might want someone to share it with!! Just kidding, I love your blogs! You're a natural! Aunt Frannie

  2. nonfiction rules!