Inside where the stories brew

Welcome to a tour of the inside of a storyteller’s mind. Keep your hands off the shiny things and stay with the group, please.

Over in this corner, we have the official WIP (work-in-progress). This is the story she’s supposed to be writing. It’s the one she talks about all the time. It’s the reason she can’t remember what you just said, or remember to eat, or sleep through the whole night.

Over on this shelf are the random ideas, possible short stories, lists of actors and directors she’ll call up when her book is made into a movie, and a pile of good intentions–blog post topics and other ideas, sorted haphazardly into “Must Get This Out” and others tagged “Write It But Keep It In a Drawer/Nobody Needs To See This“.

Don’t open that dark and dusty box. That’s where she keeps a pile of TO-DO things called marketing. These are the items she doesn’t really want to do, and probably never will. They’re the things that will sell more copies of her books. But when she looks at them, it hurts her eyes. When other authors do those things, it always smells a little rotten, like standing on a soap box and shouting about your own sweet-smelling feet. But all readers know a good book may not be crowned so by the writer. Once published, readers own the story and propel it to its fate. Only the reader may honestly “sell” a book to other readers. The writer may only watch and hope, and keep the dusty box over there, where she can’t see it too much.

She doesn’t get bored. Even when nothing is happening, on a long walk, on a 10-hour car ride, in a boring meeting where colleagues feverishly debate before voting about whether to vote on something, she is entertained by her mind. Her characters talk, to each other or to her or to themselves. Sometimes they yell for attention. Scenes slide by, uninvited. Halfway through drafting a novel, a new story knocks with more interesting characters than those old ones. She has a special skill where she appears to watch a whole football game but only her eyes are pointed the right way. She says, “Mhh hmmm,” frequently in response to voices that utter strings of words that turn up at the end like questions.

Yep, it’s like a circus in here. The writer’s task is to tame the lion and corral the monkeys. She must swing from the trapeze and juggle her ideas, often while working her “real” job to earn money so she can support her coffee addiction and need for carbohydrates.

So that’s it, just a quick look around. Don’t look too close. Tour’s over.

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