Sunday, April 9, 2017

The Crazy Writer Lady

Since I started writing seriously … or should I say seriously writing … something has happened to me. I find that I live in whatever book I’m working on more than I live in the real world. I wake up with thoughts about my characters and sit at the computer to put them “on paper.” Sometimes I do this at 3 a.m. I live with a cat. She doesn’t mind my odd hours.

Of course, I do have to spend time in the real world. I have to pay bills and feed the cat and check on my children and grandchildren. But my worlds overlap all the time. I can be wandering through the supermarket and have a sudden answer to a knot in a plot and have to hang onto the thought (see what I did there?) until I get home. Instead, someone I’ve known for years says hello and I struggle to pull myself back into the twenty-first century (all my novels take place in the twentieth century) and remember who in the world this person is.

I’ve become the crazy writer lady. Since I’m approaching the milestone birthday that marks me as older than God, I’m sure some people attribute all this to advancing age. I don’t feel old, but I definitely feel distracted. I need to get back to the twentieth century to work on my book.

My background is music and theater. Primarily musical theater as I directed musicals for over thirty years. I experienced some of this while working on a production, because along with the many other people involved we recreated the world of that particular show. But a key word here is “recreated” ─ we were bringing the work of the composer and authors of the musical to life as best we could. We tried to understand what the creator of the work wanted to tell the audience and were acting as a conduit for those truths. I was part of a team and we were all working together to make this happen
Here’s where being a show director is gratifying. With an audience, there’s an immediate response to your work. The audience applauds, sometimes cheers, and sometimes stands in appreciation.

Releasing each book is difficult. It’s like sending your child off to kindergarten and hoping she will be safe and happy. But being a creator is exciting and fulfilling in ways directing could not be. These are my words. This is a world I have created and am inviting people to enter. These are my characters that I want people to care about. It’s not a task undertaken lightly. I know I have a good story to tell, and with each book I believe I learn a little more about how to tell it better.

My characters talk to me. They argue with me. They do things I never intended for them to do and refuse to behave themselves. They are very real and I come to love them. I’ve heard other authors say this, so I understand it goes with the territory, and if I don’t love them and believe them, neither will my reader.

 I’ve come to understand that while there is an audience, they aren’t all there at the same time. They come into the world of my story one by one. Sometimes they speak to me in the supermarket or in a parking lot to tell me they enjoyed a book. Sometimes they send me a message to let me know the same thing. Occasionally they write a review, and that’s especially nice because other potential readers see that review and are intrigued enough to buy a copy of the book.

When I first started on this “third act” of my life, a theater friend, who happens to be a writer, reminded me often: “There is no opening night.” He was cautioning me not to rush to publish. And then I realized there is also no closing night. People continue to find their way into the world of my books. One audience member at a time.

All in all, I love being the crazy writer lady. It’s a great third act.


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