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November 26, 2007

A week of writing...

On Saturday morning I got up at dawn and fed the cats, packed a bag and drove out to Palm Springs to spend one last weekend with my folks before they leave California and get back on the road for more adventures. We had the best time just hanging out, they were staying in a beautiful RV park that used to be a date grove and the huge palm trees looked prettiest right at sunset:


They taught me how to play this card game called Thirty-One and I am proud to say I beat the pants off 'em. It was a great, perfect day and night and I needed that break more than I can tell you.

I shall take all your quarters because I am a card shark!

When I got home yesterday I had a day of just quiet and stillness, the first one in months. And of course the only thing I wanted to do was get a pen and start scribbling away, and later I got out my laptop and just started typing. God how I miss just banging away at the keyboard in my three-fingered typing frenzy, it's almost like there is a direct line between the emotional center of my brain and my fingers, I don't know if that's normal. I feel all cloudy and chaotic inside until I can get it out of me, in words, either longhand or typing.

I prefer a clackety, loud keyboard, too. That used to drive Mr. X a little crazy. I think of him less and less these days ... even though strangely enough at book readings I would realize with a little shiver of terror that I was reading aloud in front of people about the very night my husband told me he no longer wanted anything to do with me. I had chosen to read the first chapter because that is where the story begins, and also in case people hadn't read any of the book yet I didn't want to spoil it. After a while I started reading a different piece, just for fun, but even having to re-read that same part of my life again and again it wasn't like re-living it. You just close the book and take a deep breath and you're back to being you, and you're standing there! It's weird and strangely exhilarating, too.

And so it's weird to remember something so dumb, like the way my loud typing was annoying to someone.

But either way I guess I am a loud typist. And a terrible one at that. People at work are always amazed that such fast typing can come from three fingers plus one thumb on the space bar! I love the way I type, it works for me, but it does cause people to pause when they see me.

I don't talk about writing much. I just do it, all the time, always have. Even before all this b-o-o-k stuff, I got a lot of emails from folks asking about writing. How do you decide what to write about? Do you ever decide not to publish things to the public? Do you self-edit? When do you write? Do you make yourself write each morning, evening? Do you have a schedule? And most of all, my God how are you so wordy?

I've ducked and dodged as many of these questions as I can without seeming too rude. I was always a little shy or scared to address any of them mainly because I'm no expert. I'm not someone who went to a fancy school or got a PhD or a Master's in Literature, and I still get emails on a daily basis informing me that I need to spellcheck and also y'all NOT ya'll, dammit ("I have emailed you already about this heinous error in your writing... the correct spelling of that contraction is Y'ALL, I will have you know I am no longer reading your blog until you correct the error...")

And because I'm a little knucklehead, I wouldn't change the spelling on this website if you paid me. Pure ornery, that's what I am.

But I've been thinking a lot about writing lately, in a good way, and missing it. And tomorrow I'm going to be posting the first part of my interview with writer M. J. Rose. I had the incredible experience of being able to quiz her about her latest book and about writing, too, while we were both in Miami for the Book Fair International. I'll post part two of that interview on Wednesday because yes, I am wordy, and I like to interject my own opinions into interviews (which as you may already know makes one a terrible, bad reporter.) (But funny, nonetheless!)

It wasn't until I found myself eagerly quizzing M.J. about all sorts of writing technique stuff that I realized maybe there was a good reason to answer your questions if I could. (Even though truth be told I do cringe at anything that seems even the smallest bit pretentious, such as "Talking About Writing." Yikes.) But I loved talking to M.J., she got me so excited about one day being able to write fiction ... I don't feel like I'm ready yet, but someday. Someday. And I am living proof that you do not have to be an expert anything to love something all the way through and make good on it. Plus, I am not someone who was able to take a year off and ponder my navel and then achieve my lifelong goal. Just like most folks, I have a full-time job and life and laundry and still know that if you love a thing you make time for it.

So if you do have any burning questions about writing and all that stuff, you can post them in the comments here and I will do my best to answer what I can. Not as an expert, not as some great, well-trained and fabuloso bestseller or any of that, just as a person who is still learning this weird business who also loves to write. I decided to do this because if there is anything at all I have learned that can help you even the teetiniest bit or make you excited about your own writing, well. I would love to be able to give it to you, even if it's small. Even if I am a notorious comma splicer.

I'll keep the comments here open until Thursday. I don't know if it will be useful or helpy at all, but if it's not we'll just make jokes about it later! And then I will take all your quarters at cards, because I am a card shark at Thirty-One. Especially when you add wine.

Posted by laurie at November 26, 2007 10:11 AM