Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Author


The author's finger pounded the computer keys.  She was tempted to use her middle finger - proving the strength of her anger and frustration.


She had been at this for weeks now, months is she were to be honest.

She was working on her next book.  She had experienced a bit of success with her first effort, minor success with the second and was now working on her third book.  She never had thought of herself as an author before.  It seemed a bit too lofty of a goal for this ordinary girl........well, now woman.  Her aspirations were a bit quieter, a bit more personal and private.  And not everyone would consider being an author a worthy or unattainable goal, it's not something they would value or look upon as special.

But she did.

And now she was stuck.  She was stuck in the middle of the book.  Every day she would wake up and there was a plan to write a few pages and be done.  After all, she was a wife and a mom and in charge of meals and making sure there was just enough underwear for the day.......sometimes it was pulled out of the washer and worn wet but it was worn.  So you see there was time set aside for being an author and then there was time to be wife, time to be mom, time to cook and keep up her part of the house (Have no fear the author had a husband who wrote checks and made appointments and did bills and fixed things and it all sounds very 1950s but trust me when I say it's best for all involved.  There is no right way but there is a best way for each family and this is simply their best way.  It doesn't have to be yours.)

There was a time and place set aside for writing and she liked things to stay in their places.  It was more comfortable for the author.  The overlapping and intersecting of lives tended to complicate matters and make her head hurt.


Her head hurt when so many things piled up in a day and people and things and tasks filled to overflowing so she mapped out space and time for her tasks.

The problem was each day when she sat down to write she didn't know what came next.  She would sit down at her desk.  The kids were taken care of - sometimes by the grandparents, sometimes by books from the library and sometimes from every parent's best friend MEDIA - and she would have the quiet she needed to think and write and plan and her hands would be poised over the keyboard and she would write.

The words flowed and the ideas would come and the mental pictures would all be there.  She would write and write and write.   Her goal was a chapter a day.  Truth be told she would like it to be more but a chapter seemed the most reasonable to her - in light of her other responsibilities.  That was the plan.

The author loved plans.

Her blocked off time would come to an end.  She would go back and reread what was written.  It was always good.  Really good.  (I never said the author wasn't proud of her success or talent, it was just unexpected :) She knew it was good.

But it didn't fit.  It didn't work with where the book was, where she was at in the story.  It just didn't sound write.  She didn't have much experience with technique.  She had never studied writing or took classes or anything, it was more of a feeling.  A feeling based on years of reading - both the good and bad - that something was not right.  In fact, it was wrong.


That was where she was again today.


She was at her wit's end.  The kids came running into the room.  Today was a timer set kind of day.  Go read, play, run outside, BE AWAY FORM YOUR MOTHER and when the timer buzzes you may come and get me, said the author to her kids.

The timer had gone off.

It was time to for the author to turn into mom.  She went and got dinner started - filling the pan with water, turning on the stove, chopping tomatoes, cutting up spinach.  The kids got out the plates and silverware and began to ready the table for dinner.  Within 20 minutes dinner was on the table, dad was home and the house was buzzing with the noise of a family.  The book was left behind for a few hours as life continued and there was running outside and reading of books and readying for bed and other things involving a wife and a mom.  She talked a bit of the struggle of all the ideas and the writing of the chapter and the eventual pounding of the keys and deleting of the words but the immediacy of her family called attention away from the now far off possibility of a new chapter.

Later on that night as the author's husband was putting the kids to bed, though, the frustration was back.  The anger at not being able to move forward.  The irritation at not having a plan for what's next in the book.  It all came back as the noise and activity of the house died down.

She decided to call her editor.  She was sure that he would have some ideas or words of encouragement, some get up and go speech........something of that sort.  After all their futures were kind of tied together.  If she didn't produce, he wouldn't get the goods.  No chapters.  No profit.  She just needed some good old, hard-core motivation.

Hi.  Glenn?  It's me.  Penny.  Yeah, I was calling........well, yeah I guess it's a penny for your thoughts...........HAHAHAHA!


I know, I know.  I promised never to say that again when I called you.  Ok.  Anyway.  I'm stuck.  I can't get passed the third chapter.  I have all these ideas and thoughts and things I want to happen with the main characters but when I write it out.........well, it just doesn't work.  It's starting to freak me our a bit and I am getting frustrated and AHHHHHHH.  It just needs to happen.  I need that fourth chapter to be written.


What do you mean WHY, Glenn?  I can't finish the book unless I have a fourth chapter.  I really just want to finish this book.  The first book I wasn't even thinking when I wrote it.  It just sort of happened.  It was good but it wasn't great or anything, it was more just something I did because my husband convinced to just write everything down.  The second book was a bit more of an effort but it just seemed as if I fell into writing another one.  I want THIS book to count, I want it to be something that is GOOD.

Ok.  So what's the problem?  

GLENN.  WHAT DO YOU MEAN WHAT'S THE PROBLEM?  The PROBLEM is I can't get past the third chapter.  I have this plan and it's a chapter a day and that seems doable and reasonable and all that and it's just not happening.  I will NEVER get this book done if I can't get past the third chapter.

Ok.  So you want to write a third book?


And you want it to be good because you are writing it with the actual knowledge that you are an author now and it's not just dabbling anymore?


And it's not happening fast enough and within the confines of your neatly organized plan?

YESsssss.......I mean, Glenn, when you say it like that it seems a bit ridiculous. BUT IT IS SO NOT.  I just...................sigh.........I just..........I don't know.

Penny.  What made you want to become an author in the first place?

I don't know.  I don't think that I ever had that thought until after the second book.  An author.  It still gives me the shivers.  I don't know that I can even wrap my head around it now.  I just know that I love books.  I love how they make me feel.  I love that you can get wrapped up in them for hours.  I love that they inspire me.  I love that I can get lost in them.  I love words.  I remember that moment when I discovered that I can write.  That I can write things worth reading, only I am not sure I ever had the conscious thought that someone would want to actual read my words.

What do you love about writing, Penny?

It's exciting.  It feels like ME.  I'm good at it.  It allows me to be creative and dream and there are so many possibilities when you write.  A blank page is simply a canvas on which I get to create whatever world I can imagine.  It's so much fun.

Ok. So what's the problem?

It's almost as if the things that first made me fall in love with writing, with the idea of being an author are holding me back.  I hear myself answering your questions and I think that once I was able to fully see all the possibilities and all the blank pages and I was able to believe in my ability to fill them with good things I wanted to fill them all RIGHT NOW.  It's almost as if completing the book was more important than all the words and ideas and beauty found on each and every page.

Oh my.


I know.

Enjoy the book you are on, the page you are on, the words you are crafting.  There is a time to plan.  That time was before.  The before when you couldn't even imagine starting.  That time?  Remember that time?  You were so unsure of yourself.  You called me and you wondered if I had time to look at some stories you had written...........I thought you were going to hang up before I could even say YES.  You spit out the words and were about to put down the phone.  But I said YES.  Penny, your stories were lovely.  The words were filled with a tentativeness but there was beauty in those first words.  Now?  Now you have conviction.  You have the knowledge that YOU CAN.  You have some experience.  

And Penny?

You have TIME.

There's no pressure from me.  Go slow.  Get it right.  Pound away.  Delete a bit.  Edit a bit.  Dream a lot but don't try to skip ahead.  I will be here when you finish - in 2 days or in 2 years.  

SIGH.  GLENN.  Ok.  Ok.  I hear you.  Go slow.  Get it right.  Delete. Edit. Dream.  Don't try to skip ahead.  Thanks, Glenn.

Oh and Penny?

Yeah, Glenn?

This is just the beginning of the series...............I saw a contract with your name on it in the office the other day.  10 books, Penny, 10 books.  Just enjoy the ride.


Dial tone.

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