Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Writers work alone? - Grove

Running like your pants are on fire? Busy? Hurried? Days crammed pack?

Me too. Except it’s all just in my head. Sure, there are dishes in my sink. There are kids waiting to be picked up, laundry to be done, friends waiting to hear back from me. But I’m busy thinking.

My husband, Steve, rushes in the room.
“I’m taking the van in to be serviced, Ben needs to be picked up at school and Heather has swimming lessons," he says.

“Hmm?” I say, not looking up from my computer screen. “Do you think zinnias grow well this far north?”

“What are zinnias?” says Steve.

I flip to another screen. “Would you describe this color as ‘gun metal’ or ‘stainless steel’?”

“Bonnie,” he sighs. “We really need to get going.”

“Where?” I ask, as I follow him up the stairs and out the door. We climb into the van and I say,
“Have you ever picked a lock with a pencil? I mean, do you think it can be done?”

“What are you doing in the van?” says Steve. “You have to take the car to get Ben. And where is Heather?”

I get out of the van and walk around to the driver’s side. I tap on the window. “Do you think people eat bunt cake at funerals most often, or are brownies more common?”

“Finger sandwiches, and don’t forget to pick me up at the garage when you are done at Heather’s swim lesson,” Steve hollers as he drives off.

Pretty good. I fish for the notebook I always keep on me and write ‘fgr sands’. I’m sure I’ll know what it means when I read it later. My daughter, Heather, finds me standing on the driveway scribbling in my notebook. “I’m ready,” she says.

“For what? Hey, Heather, do you think someone could climb up that lattice?” I say, pointing to the structure leaning against the house. “Or do you think it would break?”

“Sure. You could do it, Mommy.” She climbs into the backseat of the car.

I hesitate. She could be right, but she’s only four, and I doubt she knows much about it. I write it down anyway. I’m walking back to the house when I hear Heather call, “Mommy? I have swimming lessons.”

“Oh yeah, uh, I know. I was just going to call Ben.” I holler into the house, “Ben!”

“Ben is at school,” Heather says. I check my watch. 3:45 P.M. I’m fifteen minutes late picking him up.

“How was school?” I say to Ben when I finally reach the school.

“We had a substitute teacher. He had a big nose,” He says

“How big,” I say. “Big like a ball of dough, or big like a ski slope.”

“Big like a pickle,” says Ben.

“Wow. That’s really good Ben.”

“It is?”

“Yes. Big like a pickle. Good for you,” I jot it down in my notebook, put the car in gear, and head it toward swimming lessons.

I leave my daughter with a girl I am reasonably sure is her swimming instructor and sit by the pool. Soon I am transfixed by the movement of the water. I mumble to myself and scratch in my notebook. “Hey Ben, what do you think that water looks like? Besides wavy. You can’t say wavy.”

He thinks for a moment, head tilted to one side. “Bumpy.”

I roll my eyes. Six year olds. I write it down anyway.

After swimming I head to the library. The kids run for the children’s section while I get lost in the instructional books. I’m transfixed by a passage detailing the invention of toilet paper when my son pokes his head around the book shelf. “I’m hungry, when are we going home.”

“Soon,” I mumble as I, once again, hear the theme from The Pink Panther play loudly. “Why on earth do they keep playing that song over and over again?” I say as I write down the name Joseph Gayette.

“Mommy, your purse is playing that song,” Ben says.

Oh, yeah. Steve downloaded it as a ring tone for my new phone. Rats. “Hello?” I say.

“Bonnie,” says Steve. “Where are you?”

“The library, of course. Did you know the ancient Romans used wool and rose water as toilet paper?”

“No. I’ve been waiting for over an hour. I’ve called and called.”

“For what? Hey, Steve, only fourteen percent of households had bathtubs in 1907.”

“Good to know. Please come and pick me up at the garage.”

“The garage? What are you doing there?”

Later that night, I lay in bed feeling exhausted. I lean over and kiss my husband goodnight. “I’ll be glad when this book is done,” I say to him. “You can’t understand how consuming writing is.”

He smiles and says, “Yes, I believe I do understand.”


Jane Harris said...

I love this post! No. Nobody works alone, especially not if they have a family. Sounds like you have a great one.

N. J. Lindquist said...

I now know where to send people when they ask me why I don't write more fiction. You've captured the dilemma of a fiction writer beautifully!

My real problem is I feel need to be the responsible one. So until I can hire someone to take care of all the alarms in my head that are telling me I have appointments, etc., I don't feel free to allow myself to go into the land of make-believe and let everything else go. So I'm stuck looking on, trying to push aside the wanting.

I do try to create large blocks of time with no other responsibilities, but that's very difficult.

I'm sure many others can relate.

Kimberley Payne said...

What a hoot! Just the other day, as I drove my kids home from an appointment, I asked them to help me with my plot. What event could they imagine happening on a cold Christmas eve? Then, What sort of birthday party would a 4-year old girl like?
The ideas were creative and fun and now I have a ice-storm before Christmas and a birthday party at Burger King in my novel!
Thanks for the fun post. I smiled all the way through.
Kimberley Payne

Deb said...

This was great! You have a wonderful sense of humour (I love humour) and yes kids have the greatest ideas. They're so free in their thinking. Keep up the good work!

Deb Schuchardt

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