Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Writing Out Loud

I am a writer. I tell myself this every day—between my real job (as my friends refer to it) and all of the other demands that gobble up valuable minutes.

Shortly after I began my first novel, I was presented an unlikely gift—I was relieved of my job. My services were no longer needed. Since I no longer had a real job, one of my friends suggested that I could now dedicate myself to writing. And so, I did. I worked feverishly to finish that first novel and to complete two others. I diligently set about soliciting rejection letters from agents and publishers.

Then I was offered a job back in my home state. It sounded like a dream job—if you have to have a real job. I made arrangements to stay with a friend while I looked for suitable housing.

I had developed a rhythm, a routine for my writing—write until three a.m., sleep until ten, proofread while I enjoyed my morning coffee. It worked well for me.

Now I found myself in someone else’s home and having to adapt to someone else’s routine. Apparently, people with real jobs don’t stay up until three a.m., and they are usually showering and clanking around the kitchen at six-thirty. I had been displaced from my routine and from my quiet work space, using only my laptop with a folding TV tray as a desk. Oh, did I fail to mention that my new housemate was studying music?

On one particular day, I had the house to myself. I took the laptop into the living room and began to edit my previous night’s work. As I got into the midst of my story, my housemate came in, settled into the recliner and began to practice sight-singing—her homework for the next day. (Thankfully, she sings on key.) But after realizing I had read and re-read the same paragraph three times, I excused myself and moved to the dining room.

Twenty minutes later, and as I was once again fully involved in my story, my housemate decided it was now time to practice the piano. The piano is in a small room—you guessed it—next to the dining room.

Not wanting to disrupt the household routine, I again excused myself and said that I was going to work upstairs in the spare bedroom. I placed the laptop on the wobbly TV tray and settled myself back into my manuscript. Before long, my housemate appeared on the second floor, stating that it was now time to work through her computer—the one right outside the spare bedroom. She had to go online and use a program that played music aloud so she could identify the notes. This involved singing the notes and, as I observed, talking herself through the exercise, swearing only occasionally.

I later discovered that, if you proofread your work aloud, it’s easy to clear a room. From now on, I’m writing out loud!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Haha, Linda. What a great story for me to wake up to. It's about 4;40 am and I'm about to start on my next chapter entirely thankful no one else in the household wants to play at anything. My characters demand my full attention and I'd not have it any other way. lol.

Carol McPhee: http://www.geocities.com/carolmcphee2003