Saturday, June 10, 2017

Writing Conversations

A few years ago I was awake late into the night working on a scene for one of my books. A friend noticed me online and messaged to ask why I was still awake at that hour. My response was, "He just won't die. He knows it is coming and refuses to cooperate. I am not going to sleep until he is finally dead." She didn't ask. She is also a writer. There was no strange silence or subtle changing of subjects as I proceeded to rant about the stubborn character I was working on killing. When I was done fuming she commiserated with me briefly then wished me luck as she headed off to bed herself.

A few days ago I was at my day job discussing a book I am working on and the interesting things I have noticed as I venture into a new genre. I am working on a murder mystery with a twist and I was excited because I was boiling over with ideas for the next part of the story so I couldn't wait to get home. What I actually said out loud was, "I can't wait to get out tonight so I can get home. I know exactly how the investigation is going to go now that I killed the lady."

The gentle easing away from me was more  felt than sen but it was noticeable either way. The guy I was sitting with sat a little straighter and said, "I'm sorry, what?" I explained that I was working on the investigation into the murder of an elderly woman and I was thrilled because I had so many ideas that I couldn't wait to get working on. He raised an eyebrow at me but said nothing. I realized as I felt the rest of the break room slide further away that they were not understanding things the way my writer groups would. So I clarified I was talking about characters in a book.

At once the room breathed a sigh of relief. It was comical to me the seriousness they had attached to my conversation even though they are well aware of my writing aspirations. I then got into a discussion about a character that dies in another book and the guy I had been speaking with told me she didn't have to die, I wasn't trying hard enough to save her. It is worth noting that he has no idea what the book is about or how she plays into the storyline. I took his comments with a grain of salt because not only does he not know the story but he also has never written more than a term paper in his life.

Writers might randomly say things like, "I can't find my encyclopedia of trial killers." and it simply means they are looking for a book for the purposes of research. Other writers will respond with either I hope you find it soon, or if they live close enough to one another perhaps, you can borrow mine. While writers, like any profession, understand each other on a level outsiders usually don't it is worth keeping in mind just how different we are sometimes. We say things the rest of the world may vastly misunderstand. Just be ready to explain when you are having a discussion involving your writing.

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