Sunday, December 20, 2009

Real fiction


So now I’m trying to figure out what is going on in this scene I’ve been writing. For inspiration, I go for a walk. Maybe it isn’t inspiration I’m looking for exactly so much as clarity.

So I walk down my street, which parallels a little lake that’s more like a river, taking my sheepdog and lab along for company. (Dogs are great company on walks and make your walk seem purposeful. You’re not just wandering around aimlessly, obsessing on your writing, you’re walking the dogs. )

Anyway, there we are and I’m thinking and not thinking, feeling the warm sun on my face, looking out over the water, when one of my characters appears next to me, a deep frown on his handsome face. His steps match mine.

“Yo, dude, you got it all wrong.”

“Got what all wrong?”


“What’s all wrong?”

“I’m a lot better looking for one thing, and I sure as hell am smarter. You make me sound like a barking idiot.”

Both dogs look at him when he says barking and then look around hopefully. (It’s a word they know. I use it around the house frequently as in, “Quit barking.”)

“You let your jealousy get the best of you,” I say. “Jealousy will do that. It will take over everything.”

“It’s not jealousy. I do what’s right for everyone. Can’t they see he’s a fake? He’s just a fake.”

“What I don’t get is how you could think what you’re doing will solve your problem.”

“My problem? Everyone else has the frickin problem. I don’t have a problem. They just can’t see. That’s the problem. And I’m going to make them see. I’m going to force them to understand.”

“Understand what?”

“That I’m the one. Not him. I’m the one.”

“The one what?”

“That they should love.”

And then I see. Yes. That’s it. That’s what he wants and needs. That's where the desperation comes from. I start to ask him more, but some neighbors pass and I think it best to pretend I’m one of them, you know not insanely talking to a fictional character, so I say “Hi” and “Nice day.” My dogs, witness to the whole act, look back at me, raising imaginary dog eyebrows. But then, being dogs, forget about me when they smell something on the grass, mostly likely another dog’s pee. What self-respecting dog wouldn’t greedily sniff in such circumstances? It’s what makes the same walk every day always different to them.

And so, a day in the life, or a few minutes in the life, of a writer and his dogs.

I think a lot of writers solve problems in their stories when they're doing mindless tasks like walking or taking a shower or brushing their teeth. If you're involved in your manuscript, you're going to constantly struggle with parts of it that bother you when you do other things. Still, I wish I could control it more. It's a little freaky to drive somewhere and realize when you get there that you don't actually remember driving because you've been thinking about whether your character should really go to that party or stay home.


Sage Ravenwood said...

I think Pickles (my working dog for the deaf) has become accustomed to my weird quirks by now. Yes, quirks. What else am I supposed to call, a mad dash out of the shower - barely grabbing a towel and searching for pen/paper to write that scene madly before I lose it. I have several water stained scenes laying around the house.

I'm almost positive the minute I submerge my hands in the dishwater, I'll have one of my characters lamenting they can't die. That last breaks your heart. Yep, I'm quirky all right. (Hugs)Indigo

Brian Yansky said...

That's funny. One writer friend swears by the water thing. Whenever she is in water or a part of her is in water, she has great ideas.