Thursday, March 24, 2011

Writing in the Middle of Life

The room is small.  What some would call cozy.  The walls are covered in white wainscoting and the floors are wood.  There is a large picture window overlooking water...  lake or ocean... a body of water is all that is required. 

The room is quiet... except for the TV which is set to Young and the Restless... OK, you have to forgive me for that one, but I gotta keep up with the Genoa City crowd.  Let's pretend I said Jack Johnson is playing softly in the background.  He would go nicely with the waves...

The furniture is comfy with lots of pillows on a sofa.  The desk and table are mahogany.  I have a laptop because I may want to sit at my desk, on the deck, or on my sofa.  I would like a fireplace.  Wood burning... they smell good and give off nice ambient light.
There is a bathroom attached, with a blind Bradley Cooper just waiting to take dictation.  For I get all my best ideas in the shower.  Don't make me explain why he has to be blind.  Bradly can make coffee too.  Mochas, just the way I like 'em.

I've just described to you my dream writing environment.  Now let me walk you through my reality.

The room is large and decorated nicely.  I did decorate it after all. Warm, earthy tones with pops of red make it comfortable and fun.  Toys are scattered across the ceramic tile floors thanks to my three children, usually one or two of their friends, and two cats who are a foot.

The TV is very large and it's on constantly.  Rarely does it find Y&R but is usually tuned in to Peep and the Big Wide World or a video game of some sort.  I don't own an ipod and all my Cd's are in my car so, if I do listen to music these day's it's been Swingers and Swing on takes me where I want to go.

My shower is upstairs and down the hallway.  So, when I get my best ideas I usually scribble them in the shower steam on the glass doors.  I do find as long as I write it on something it sticks in my head better.  Let's face it though... some of those buds of brilliance are lost forever.  Where is Bradley when you really need him?  (George Clooney could easily replace him... he is more mature and has a proven record of staying power.)  Showers are usually taken with a two year old who likes to draw in the steam too.  She enjoys playfully screaming while she does this.  So, it's rarely a quiet event.

Someone always needs something... a drink, a snack, clean clothes.... so, if I'm lucky to sit in peace for an hour in front of my PC which sits firmly stuck on a desk, I consider myself blessed.   

I was thinking about all of this earlier and wondered, where did the great writers do their best work?  Did Steinbeck do his best work in a peaceful perfect writing environment or did he manage to write Grapes of Wrath while mowing his lawn and working on his car?  Did Lisa See write Snow Flower and the Secret Fan while doing dishes and vacuuming? 

Someday, if my writing makes it the way I hope it will, people may envision me sitting in that shabby chic room with a wonderful view telling Leila's story.  I will be laughing, hopefully all the way to the bank, because I know the truth... This book is being written in the middle of life.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Inspriation and when it smacks you in the face....

I've always wanted to write.... I just never had the guts to do it until now.  I don't know exactly what changed in me, but over the last few weeks something inside me certainly did. 

I was given a shadow box made by my Aunt.  It was filled with old trinkets that once belonged to my Great Grandmother, Leila and her husband, Bill.  An old photo, abalone clad salt and pepper shakers, a fountain pen engraved with Bill's name.... an old pocket watch, a class pin from 1924, and tucked behind some dried flowers was an old letter... addressed to Leila.

For months I've walked by this shadow box always glancing as I passed.  The old photo of Leila at about three years old, in a bonnet, coat, and boots, walking hand in hand with a little boy taken in about 1909.... always makes me smile.... but it was the little fragile letter tucked in the back that really piqued my attention. 

One night, after tucking all three of my kids in bed.  I went to the den and took the box from the wall.  I gently slid back the glass, being careful to not disturb the contents, which have not been touched for more than 20 years I'm sure.... Carefully, I pulled the letter from where it sat, relieved it was not held down with glue or anything that could damage it.

It was addressed to my Great Grandmother before she was married.... June 1925 on the postmark.  I carefully opened it and was at that moment inspired to write. 

The letter was from her first love... a love she walked away from but in her heart always wondered "what would have been?" 

After folding it and slipping it back in the shadow box I called my mom to tell her what I had found.  I was pleasantly surprised to hear my mother had even more letters, from the same boy, to Leila... In addition, another letter existed, which made my story only richer.... a letter to Hattie, Leila's mother.... it was dated February 1903... from a Will Smith... her first love who broke her heart, almost leaving her an old maid.

So, here I am.  One month later, completely obsessed with the women in this story.  It's a story set in a rural Missouri town and it's a story worth telling. 

Who knows if my dream of being a published author with my works lining the shelves of Barnes and Noble (hopefully, the ones right when you walk in the door) will come true or not... but, I'm going to take the chance.   So far, I'd say it's pretty good!  Heck!  I want to keep writing it and hopefully you'll want to read it.

In the meantime I'm going to blog my way through as I take the journey through the turn of the twentieth century and beyond.  I hope you enjoy the ride as much as I do! 

Oh, if you know a good literary agent... send 'em my way!