What the hell, Jack . . . but seriously – What the hell is it about writing?

What the hell, Jack – my all-time favorite line from the series 24! I love this line so much I taught my three-year old granddaughter to say, “What the heck is going on around here,” in much the same tone. The other day her mom redid her bathroom with a Disney princess shower curtain and matching bathmat and when Emma went in the bathroom she stood shocked with her little hands on her hips and declared, you guessed it, “What the heck is going on around here? A Disney princess shower curtain?”

But seriously, what the hell is it about writing? I can literally lose whole blocks of time in front of this keyboard. I can forget to eat (and believe me that is not my usual style), go to the bathroom, let the dog out or for that matter feed the poor dog, put a log on the fire so it goes out and both the dog and I freeze. I find fiction writing so all-consuming it’s hard to imagine when you finally shake free of it – say to let said dog out before her whining to pee reaches a record-breaking pitch – that something about your very self hasn’t altered in the time you have been away. I guess it’s that flow experience that Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi talks about in his book entitled, you guessed it – Flow. Googled Mihaly to figure out how on earth to spell his name and he is a very pleasant-looking man – sort of Ernest Hemingway – Old Man in the Sea looking.

I spent most of the day doing the punctuation editing on my 9th draft so I could get a hardcopy and no sooner was it printed and I plunged into reading it aloud – highly recommended – reading aloud – than I found at least one punctuation error per page. Crap and double crap. Note to self – stop using the Harvard comma (or is it the Oxford comma?) after the word and – you’re not writing a bloody dissertation or research paper here! Perhaps the number of papers I have written in my past life has infiltrated my fingers over the keyboard causing me to subconsciously insert commas where they have no need to be. Something to think about.

I’ve been thinking of the lady who spoke to me of wanting to work a screenplay into a novel. I think she is well on the way because when I am creating – and not doing dreadfully boring edits – I start by writing like I am writing a screenplay – I put the name of the person speaking in the margin and then in brackets I briefly describe the facial expression, the tone, what the person does and where they look. Then it’s just all dialogue. After I have scene after scene like that then I start to work in the other parts, the descriptions and the sections that weave it all together.

Secret of the day: I am already working on the sequel to my novel before I even get this one up and out! Am I crazy? Maybe, but oh what an enjoyable way to be crazy. Oh no – that damn dog has to pee again.