View From The Writer’s Den
Please join me in welcoming our newest party animal/blogger Janelle Lee!
Someone is always asking me why I write… My usual response is “If I told you I would have to kill you.” Writers get strange questions but they get stranger looks. Or maybe it is just me. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I actually have been known to leave the house without brushing my hair… But I really believe it is because when someone asks me what I do for a crust (living) I say I am a writer. The usual response comes with the look of disbelief followed by the “Really?” My usual sarcastic retort is “There are a million things I could lie about and I picked that.”
The funniest look was from a couple of women in aisle five at the supermarket. My husband was down one end with the trolley while I was slowly making my way down towards him. I wasn’t actually shopping so to speak I was thinking about a particular scene in a particular chapter. Sometimes my thinking doesn’t stay inside my head. “What sort of gun would I need to shoot the most amount of people in the least amount of time?”
It wasn’t until I saw the looks on the women’s faces and my husband rolling his eyes when I realized that my question was said out loud. The women stared at me as if I was about to pull an automatic weapon from my pocket. I smiled at the women bid them a good day and hurried towards my husband who was waiting for me. “That was fun.”
“Why do you have to do that?” he asked.
Years ago an editor told me if my story wasn’t going anywhere I needed to kill someone off. It works a treat. I tell my students the same thing and with children you never know what you are going to get. I was working with the Year 5 students when one of them came over to me and told me she didn’t know what to write next. I told her to kill someone off. Probably not the most appropriate thing to tell a ten year old but I figured there were worse things I could have told her.
She made her way back to her seat with a new found confidence. Twenty minutes later she returned to show me the finished product. My right eyebrow rose as I read how she killed off thirty people in a fiery train crash. She looked expectantly at me. I had to hand it to her she certainly understood the difference between showing and telling. “Fantastic,” I told her and watched as her smile lit up her whole face.
The next morning her mother came to school to see me. I was expecting maybe a phone call but a face-to-face conversation was going to make it really interesting.
I had a whole speech prepared that included how children should be free to express themselves and I am not here to censor them in any way. My speech was a waste of time as her mother wanted to thank me for encouraging her daughter and to tell me how much she was enjoying the class. I shelved the speech and to this day I haven’t had to use it. Like me many years before the student learnt that writing is the only way you can kill someone and get away with it.
Eavesdroppers are a constant source of amusement for me. When a bunch of writers get together for lunch you can be sure writing is the only subject on the conversation menu. After eating my entrée and waiting patiently for my dessert (I hardly ever eat a main due to it getting in the way of dessert) one of my fellow diners asked me what I was working on. I told her that I was contemplating killing off one of my characters – a child – but decided that I would kill the child’s puppy instead by slitting its throat.
The woman at the next table suddenly fired off a verbal spray at me and told me I should be reported to the police and how some people should be shot. I figured that I was one of those people. I laughed at the woman, which only infuriated her more. My dining companions wanted to explain to her what I was actually talking about but I told them not to bother. It was more fun my way.
Another thing people ask about being a writer is what is the worse thing. Many writers would say the aloneness but to me it is the “Oh, you are a writer. I wrote a book do you want to read it?” Which usually equates to can you read it and fix it. A friend of a friend asked me to ‘read’ their masterpiece… Alright it wasn’t described in that way but it came close. Grammar and punctuation were non-existent, the sex scenes were laughable and I still had to work out the genre. The best I could come up with was erotica/saga/horror although the horror could have been due to the grammar and punctuation problems along with the strange wording to describe the sex. I have no idea what an oopla loopa is and quite frankly I don’t think I want to know.
When I handed it back to my friend. He asked me what I thought. I replied with “How good of a friend is your friend?”
“That bad?” he asked.
BLURB: Tim O’Flaherty’s boyhood dream was to become a pilot. His dream was shattered on September 11th 2001. Fleeing the country in an attempt to rid himself of the guilt and pain he soon realizes that there is no escaping the nightmare. He arrives in Australia where he finds a deep connection with Bondi Beach. The goal of becoming a lifeguard is what drives him and when he saves a woman from drowning he inadvertently saves himself.
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