I never think when I write; nobody can do two things at the same time and do them well. ~Don Marquis

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Waxing The Floor and Counting Matches

Writers are notorious for using any reason to keep from writing: over-researching, retyping, going to meetings, waxing the floors-anything. -Gloria Steinem

If you’re feeling stymied as a writer, don't wax the floor. Pick up your pen and describe what you see. Eavesdrop and write it down. Straight up. Feed the fire, shelter the flame, and count your matches. Don’t let yourself run out of words. Store unusual words up your sleeve, like fanciful and ornery. I like ornery. I like my ornery protagonist and his ornery adversary. I'll like them to the end. 
With hunting season upon us, gunshot and scattered quail, I unlocked my keyboard and reconnected with my troubling characters. I’m fleshing out their peculiarities and trying to suspend disbelief, which brings me to a notion I’ve stored up my sleeve. Schooling is good, but I believe there are three things a writer needs which can’t be taught: empathy, unbridled imagination, and the ability to suspend disbelief. If you have that, you can learn the rest. You can entice a reader to stick with you to The End. As Mickey Spillane once said, “No one ever read a novel to get to the middle.” And we’ve all heard said: there’s no such thing as writer’s block. There are only writers who run out of matches. There’s no such thing as a failed writer, only writers who quit before they get to the end.

I'm off to the north country to stand on the shore of Lake Superior. No waxing floors. I'm going to eavesdrop in pubs and study facial expressions.  I mean I'm going to walk the shore and study tide lines, search the horizon for freighters and collect driftwood.  I have my journal, pencil, and ID, should I lose myself.  I'm not afraid of getting lost. How silly. I'm not afraid of that.


12 comments:

Anthony Duce said...

Enjoyed... Your words here helped get me off my ass..
A trip to any of the Great Lakes right now would work wonders.. Enjoy...

Yvonne Osborne said...

Hi Anthony,
I'm glad! Yes, a trip to one of the lakes always jumpstarts my inner muse. Have a good weekend.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

You're correct that there is not such thing as writer's block.

I love the word ornery. One of my mom's cats had that name. It fit.

Yvonne Osborne said...

Diane,
What a great name for a cat! It's in their blood. Thank you. I'm glad to have an expert agree with me!

Al said...

Have fun eavesdropping!

Yvonne Osborne said...

Al,
Thanks! I've come to think of it as a noble profession!

Frances Garrood said...

Waxing the floor...what a good idea! I'll go and do it at once. Thank you.

Yvonne Osborne said...

Frances,
You're so funny! Actually, I can't remember the last time I actually waxed a floor. Thanks for commenting.

Wendy said...

Beautifully put, Yvonne.

And I totally agree with you in that there are three things a writer needs which can’t be taught - empathy, unbridled imagination, and the ability to suspend disbelief.

Yvonne Osborne said...

Thank you so much, Wendy.

Pet said...

I've done that for years. Write and write. Addiction and therapy at the same time! It was even a bit maniac at the end. Like I couldn't stop doing it. Like life was only about writing about it. So I stopped for a while. I miss it sure, but I am freer now, and still enjoying my freedom. I can even write a few sentences and just enjoy them.
By the way, where about on Lake Superior? I spent last Christmans week around Lutsen!
And thanks for commenting in my humble blog. It is nice to have readers of your writing level!

Yvonne Osborne said...

Hi Pet!
Nicely put, addiction and therapy at the same time. I was in Marquette but now I'm home....thinking about Marquette.