Okay, I know what you’re thinking after reading my title today. Emilie’s going to address the touchy and therefore juicy subject of “things writers should never write about.” Well, actually I might, now that I’ve thought of it. Another day, though. Today I’m answering a few questions I pried out of my Facebook buddies.
The real truth is that there are a few weeks after a difficult book deadline when my creativity meter locks at zero. That’s always a great time to let other people lead the way. So here we go.
From Marsha: “Okay…here’s a question. Do you write little stories for your grand kids? That would be such a cool thing for them to treasure!”
From Emilie: Thanks Marsha. Every night as I put my youngest son to bed I told him a new Cowboy Joe story. I can’t remember now why a cowboy, but this became a tradition. I can’t remember a single one, so clearly this time around for HIS son and for my granddaughters, I ought to, as you suggest, write these stories down. However, my grandchildren’s homes are filled with books and toys and I wonder how my stories would compete? On the other hand, the baby quilts I made them are still front and center, so maybe handmade and heartfelt are still the standard? Has anybody out there done this?
From Janet: “Do you ever feel like the pressure of writing and deadlines is too much for you and you’d like to chuck it all? (Please say no.)”
From Emilie: I do sometimes feel like I’m always writing. The way to fix this would be to lengthen deadlines a bit. Another possibility is what so many of my writing friends are doing, and that’s publishing my own novels online with my own deadlines. For instance if I write more Aggie mysteries, I will publish them on my own so that nobody’s tapping a foot, arms folded, and waiting on the other end, except my readers. The short answer is that I have no intention of chucking my writing, which I love. I might play with ways to make my deadlines friendlier.
From Joni: “Writer’s block. Do you get it, how often, and how long does it last?”
From Emilie: I believe in writer’s block. It’s not a lack of discipline, but a black hole that swallows every idea and inclination a writer has so that there’s nothing left to put on paper. I think sometimes it’s worse when a book’s made a stunning debut and the author knows that the next one must be just as good or better. Panic is not a writer’s friend. That said I don’t think I’ve ever really had writer’s block. I have been exhausted, though, and unable to put sentences together. That’s a different and much easier problem to fix. Of the two, I’ll take that one.
From Toni: Did you ever have a 9-5 career? If so, how do you make that work with writing? Seems to me my best ideas come when I can’t stop and write it down.
From Emilie: I did have a 9-5 career–counselor and later parent/services coordinator for my county’s Head Start program. When I began writing, though, my full time job was being a mom to four kids. I had nap times and bed times and if I was lucky the occasional lull in the chaos to write down my ideas. Toni, I would suggest getting a smart phone with Suri or her equivalent to send yourself memos whenever you have something you want to remember. And schedule a few hours of uninterrupted time to write on weekends or evenings, time that’s all yours. Best of luck!
From Marilyn: I am amazed at how you develop your characters. Are they all totally imaginary or based in some part on folks you know?
And finally, from Emilie: While I sometimes recognize a piece of someone I know in my characters, (a mannerism, a viewpoint, a speech pattern) I make a point of not using real people in my work. Not only could I be sued (and writers have been) it would limit my own creativity enormously. Then I would be a reporter not a novelist.
Thanks to everyone who asked a question for this blog. I owe you.