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The Quirky Things Writers Do

By on Monday, Aug 1, 2011 in All Things Jane, Writing Life | 3 comments

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A few days ago, I finished the first draft of a novel I began writing in April under the tutelage of Lori Wilde in her Novel in Six Months Class at SavvyAuthors.  It came in at around 77,000 words.  Now mentally exhausted and physically drained, I took the entire weekend off to reboot my weary self.  Four romantic comedies and one Jane Austenesque book later, I found myself (as I sipped cold sparkling water in my back yard while reclining with aforementioned book) becoming introspective about the crazy life writers lead.

–Writing the climax of this book-in-progess of mine was the most agonizing thing I have ever done.  I could not sleep until I got my hero and heroine out of crisis and tucked safely into their happily-ever-after.  It took about a week for me to navigate those tricky scenes and I was mentally and physically affected.  An example:  my daughter asked me a question while I was furiously typing away and I mumbled an answer…and then she asked, “Mom, why did you just answer me in a British accent?!”   The characters in my head were coming out to torment the rest of my life!

–Author Steve Berry, when he spoke at RWA in NYC earlier this summer, said something really interesting.  He said (and this is from scrawls in my little notebook–so it’s a paraphrase)–Every writer he’s ever known has a little voice in their head.  I have known about my little voice for quite some time now.  But this was a revelation!  Someone was actually admitting this out loud!   On observing someone or something, the voice says particular things like, she cast her weary eyes downward or her skirt pouffed out like a skein of cotton candy at the most unexpected times.   What a relief to know that others hear The Voice, too!

–What caused all this reflection was a passage in the book I am currently reading, A Weekend with Mr. Darcy by Victoria Connelly.   The book is about an English professor who’s secret passion is reading Regency romance novels, especially ones by a particular favorite author.  (You can read more about this charming book  here–this review made me instantly download the book.)  Anyway, the author character in the book makes this revelatory comment about writers (here’s a bit of a setup before the comment for context):

“Warwick watched her as she looked around the hall, tiny white teeth biting her lower lip, and a part of him wanted to go help her–to take her bag and say, ‘Come this way,’ but the writer in him stayed perfectly still and watched.

That was one of the things about being a writer–one always stood slightly apart, listening and watching.  It was hard to tell sometimes, if one were really alive, for life seemd to be happening to everybody else, and yet the writer’s lot seemed to be one of permanent stillness.  Had Jane Austen felt like that?  he wondered.”

So, do you get emotionally involved with imaginary people in your head?  Have difficulties with the voice that rambles around in there at the most inappropriate times?  Or find yourself observing and imbibing the details of life, sort of voyeuristically?   You may not need Haldol after all…you just might be a Writer.

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