Thursday, August 13, 2009
Every few blogs or so, someone will say "You really ought to write a book." I'm not sure if it's because they enjoy the way I string words together, or because the stories from my own life seem unlikely enough to merit fiction, or simply that I can go on and on long enough to fill something that would be a couple of inches thick if I were writing in a format that justifies it. Write a book Laura, you should write a book, write a book. I have always thought that I was cooking on one, and the simple enormity of the task, coupled with the demands of my overwhelming daily life have kept it on the list of things I know I'll never actually get around to. Like learning higher mathematics and physics. Like actually going through the entire garage. Like traveling to Europe. Like learning to do lost-wax casting and making jewelry. Twenty years or so ago I did learn American Sign Language and fully immerse myself in that language by living in Deaf Culture to become an interpreter, and I did study astrology and Tarot ten years before that because I had to know those things completely, but I was younger then and wasn't actually participating in adult life and seemed to have more time for studies and creative persuits and my intellectual needs. Writing a book seems along the lines of learning an entire language enough to be fluent and mistaken for a native of it, or learning two intertwined systems of symbolic thought that are mathematically and symbol based until I didn't need any reference materials to read them. It's a gargantuan task.
In my reference library, the shelves of books that weren't culled in the recent purge, I have a couple dozen books on the subject of writing as well as the other topics I've just mentioned. As if buying books about writing books would somehow get a book written simply by reading them. This method has worked as well as buying DVDs for working out and then watching them without actually working out. My body never improved, and my ass is still the shape of a computer chair.
I do always say though, when you hear feedback from more than one source in the Universe you have to really consider it, and since I've been doing this daily blogging exercise I get the comment "You really need to write a book." far more often, and from many different people. I already have several programs that I never really bothered to learn to use, since they were too complicated and I wasn't really writing a book or a screenplay and I wasn't sure it wasn't a stage-play I wanted to do, they have just existed there gathering E dust.
The screenplay program, now that I've poked through it, is a system of laying out chronology in order to lead you through a story; character and event development toward the answer to a central question. That's the formula for a movie. I'm not writing a screenplay for a movie, and have the book "How not to write a screenplay" to prove it. The book writing software has character development, only on a larger scale, timeline and a whole group of more detailed boxes to fill out that help keep things organized. It's sort of like filling out a questionnaire about who's in your book, what they do and what happens. When you've answered all the questions, poof! Rough draft of a book. I'm starting with these two programs, even though it doesn't say anywhere that these two are meant to be used together.
What is amazing to me is how I know the people intimately, these characters. I know their names, who they are and where they came from. I know everything about them, and when I think of a question I know the answers. My own past is spread amongst them, some of my experiences have happened to one, some to another. They are all doing something together, yet separately, and for apparently different reasons, and yet they are all me at the same time. They are like my dreams; they are me, or symbols I use to represent things from my own life, and they fit seamlessly together to say something that makes sense in one way or another.
The thing that keeps amazing me, and once I find time to sit down and write them, is that I don't know exactly what they will do next. I have no doubt who they are, but they keep doing things that surprise me, and that's the fun part of writing them. I know where they are headed and what they are trying to accomplish, but the things they're doing along the way never cease to amaze me. They have hardly left town and already I have thought "No!! Don't do it! But they really do as they will, I'm just here to write it down. It may take me forever and a day to capture it. I have so many people who need me, and I use my morning silence to blog, my afternoons to earn an income, and my evenings to be married and manage a family.
They're real though, these women. I call them "My people." Michael and Holly will say they're going somewhere and ask if I want to join them and I'll say "No thanks, I think I want to spend the evening with my people. To be honest, all I've done so far is fill out boxes, some of them with hundreds of words, and where I've left off is: Chapter One (blinking cursor) and then the phone rings or someone comes over or IMs me or needs me or has a crisis or something, and I don't want to sit down to that first epic write until I have a couple of uninterrupted hours. Somehow I know that it will set the tone for the whole project, how it goes in the first dozen paragraphs of that first chapter. Maybe that's superstitious. Maybe it's intuition. It comes from that place I listen to though, so I'm listening.
So I've written hundreds of words in preparation for this project, I know who my people are, and what they are trying to do. I'm not sure if they are going to find exactly what they are looking for, because even in word-world life rarely hands you what you expect. I don't really know what will happen between where they are and where they are going. I can't wait to find out.
Someday I'll let you know, hopefully with the love and support of a major publisher.