Sunday, January 30, 2011

Staring out the Window

What no {husband} of a writer can ever understand is that a writer is working when {she's} staring out of the window.  ~Burton Rascoe

Sometimes it seems Professor X is more anxious than I am to see my stories published. On the weekends, which is when the bulk of my writing is accomplished, he always asks, "how much writing did you do today?"

Whenever I reply, "I did 3,000 words," his mouth folds with an expression more smirk than smile and with a nod he wheels on his merry way. I wouldn't say those days are rare, but neither are the ones where my response is simply, "I didn't get any writing done today." That garners a sigh, along with a chastisement that I won't get published by staring out the window.

That's true, if all that was happening was me staring out the window with a vacuous mind. Writer's rarely, if ever, have vacuous minds. We stare into space envisioning a sci-fi thriller, we peer beyond the backyard scenery into the past to ferret out historical plots, we gaze at the moon for a mystical glimpse into enchanted worlds.

And sometimes we wait. Wait for characters to emerge beyond the window so that we can invite them in and listen. Other times we're forced to watch as they disappear, taking with them our plans and predictions for their story. They aren't ready to tell their tales and we must wait until they are.

I remember working feverishly on a werewolf project in 2009. Everywhere I turned, I found massive road blocks to the plot, characters were running hog-wild all over the computer page. Out of control, unruly, and definitely not conforming to the character development worksheets I'd so carefully crafted.

I'm not sure if I was frustrated or relieved the day that stubborn Alpha Male werewolf launched himself off my computer screen and straight through the picture window framing my desk. His black fur, nothing more than a dark streak as he leaped over the fence and vanished.

He didn't venture far. I sensed him in the rustling brush in late afternoons, heard his howls riding the wind, felt his nearness in my writer's soul. He had oats to sow. I had other projects. Still, there were days when I found myself staring out the window. Wondering, wondering, wondering what would become of him.

Last fall, my wandering werewolf loped over the fence and nosed the back door. He was ready to tell his story and I was ready to listen. With rapturous delight I discovered my errant wolf had brought home not only his tale, but also a few friends with their own stories to tell.

I might've missed them all, had I not been sitting at my desk staring out the window.

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Pippa Jay said...

I wish my husband was interested enough to ask my word count for the day! He, too, lives in the hope of me being published and hopes to be able to quit work when I hit fame and fortune - I hate to disillusion him but I can't see me in the realms of JK Rowling, Stephen King or Terry Pratchett.
But it the meantime, I keep staring out that window too ...
Great post Kristal. :)

Kristal Lee said...

Hi Pippa!
I'm sure the Big Leaguers didn't envision the magnitude of their success when they first started, either. Keep forging ahead. Believe in your dreams and remember, "If you write it, they (readers) will come."

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