We welcome back guest blogger Kathy Weyer as she continues to share her thoughts on the peculiar life of a writer. Check out her prior post: Create Writing Time.
Working at home is an isolating process. The silence is golden for getting that story down and finding the right word for a tense or romantic scene, but, I have to admit sometimes I just want to break out, get dressed, put on some makeup, some jewelry, maybe even – gasp – a dress, and go do something that doesn’t include my characters. They are not invited. They are party poopers. It’s like an old friend from whom I finally extricated myself. She was an energy vampire who expected me to solve all her problems, whining over and over about the same thing for hours on end. My characters do that, too – but that’s my job.
Last night I was in the kitchen banging pots and pans around, not really being productive, but trying to sound like it, when my husband poked his head around the corner and said, “What’s her problem now?” Sometimes he can be very ESP-ish. He knew my antagonist, Maggie, who is truly a nasty human being, had gotten herself into a pickle and he wanted to know all about it. I found myself talking to him as though she lived next door, complaining about her faults and the mess she had managed to create in the neighborhood. My voice rose and I felt my eyes fill in frustration. Apparently I worked myself up a little. He looked a little horrified. Clearly I need to step away from the computer.
Getting control of your life means good balance. We are so focused on our story, our plot lines, and our characters, we seldom are able or inclined to look outside this very real world we have created. It’s not healthy. This morning I was driving home from picking up the dry cleaning I should have picked up a week ago, feeling guilty and down, when I spied an old bumper sticker: Practice One Random Act Of Kindness A Day. Aha. There’s your sahn. (If you don’t know this reference, you need to get out more than I do. Look up Blue Collar Comedy.) So I drove to my husband’s office with lunch for his department. These people are amazing. They are dedicated to good work, good ethics, and courtesy in a tough business. It was the least I could do for people who support the man who brings home the bacon that lets me torture myself in front of the computer.
Several asked about the book. I waved my hand in the air as if to say, “It is what it is, and it’s not going very well.” They nodded as if they understood and dove into lunch. Conversation soon turned to family members and funny stories about little ones, mothers, and grandmothers. Maggie, that self-important bee-ach, jumped in from time to time to scream “Me! You’re supposed to be dealing with me!” But I resisted. One woman got my attention with a story about her great grandmother years ago when she was one of the first female engineers in the world. My jaw dropped when she delivered a great line that I wrote down on the spot because I’m going to use it in the book; it’s perfect for one of my characters. (And yes, I have her permission.) I got a couple of other niggles, too, that will have to percolate a while.
See what happens when you pay attention?
I felt so good going home after taking a break for a few hours. The re-energization (is that a word?) did me a world of good, and I have made a promise to do something out of my own head every day for someone else. Certainly not lunch every day for a group, but there are all kinds of ideas that don’t take much time, but make a world of difference.
- Call someone spontaneously to catch up.
- Write a note to someone you haven’t seen in a while.
- Take some stuff to Goodwill or the Salvation Army.
- Return that thing you haven’t returned.
- Go on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or wherever and send a book to someone. You can even lend an e- book you own to someone over the system; Amazon does this very well, and I hear B&N does, too.
- Find a video on line and forward it to someone who can use a good laugh.
- Use your imagination!
Maggie wouldn’t even think about doing any of this, but I’ll deal with her after I take a little tin of really good loose tea over to my neighbor’s mailbox.
Kathy Weyer is a reformed Human Resource executive and Marriage and Family Therapist. She has worked in several hospices as a grief and bereavement counselor. She has published several articles in national magazines and just finished her first novel set in San Diego, where she lives with her husband, two dogs, a bird and five turtles. See her website at www.kathyweyer.com for more about her and to read a sample chapter of her novel Stitches.