Friday, May 18, 2007

In A Pinch

One of the things I find extremely crazy about being a writer is the way my stories stay with me at all times. I can be super busy with schoolwork (heck, once I was even in a final) and an image or a bit of dialogue will hit me. Something so perfect that I MUST write it down out of fear of losing it. Has that ever happened to you?

For this post, I thought it might be fun to relate some of the crazier moments and my urgent need to "get it down."

One of my favorites is when I first started BTPM. I remember I was sort of down at the time because I had a partial rejected from this really great agent... and well, you know how that goes. Anyway, for some reason inspiration hit me particularly hard and I came up with the idea for BTPM. I can't remember what was going on that night, but I remember I had _very little_ time to clean the house. As I'm the official maid (I clean in exchange for room/board), I couldn't exactly say I needed to take a 3 hour break to get the beginning scenes out of my head. Instead, I grabbed a notepad and wrote down as much as I could get out in about five minutes. My notes were crazy -- I think I may even still have them. I basically recorded the bits I could see/feel... emotion...another line of dialogue...etc. It was chicken scratch at best, but you know what? When I came back to it later that night, I was able to pound out the scene with very little effort. It was fantastic.

Another is that I wrote quite a bit of CHILD OF THE MIST and FAKING IT while at work. I was working at an office and waitressing at the time. I'd be sitting there doing mindless data entry and a scene would start to play out in my mind. My tool of choice to get it down? The pink "While You Were Out" slips. (g) I'd scribble down whatever had bubbled up and tuck that sheet away in my purse... rinse, repeat, many times. Then I'd go off to my waitressing job. At that job, I used SO much of their register paper to get my ideas down. Actually, I wrote entire scenes between tables. LOL. Some of my favorites. (g) My co-workers loved to tease me and would constantly try to guess what kind of scene I was writing. A bodice ripper seemed to be the guess of choice. AS IF. (g)

I've also excused myself from a movie (in a theatre) so I could run to the restroom to jot things down. Let me tell you, never do you question your sanity more than when you're hiding in a bathroom stall writing out images on the back of a fast food receipt. LOL. Hey, at least I didn't use toilet paper. (g)

At home, I'm a bit more organized. I keep a journal by my bed -- that way, I can jot things that come to me in dreams or in that not asleep but not awake state. It's saved me many a times. I also keep a small notebook in my purse now. Not to mention one in my car for those times I'm stuck somewhere trying to kill time.

So, now that we've established I'm insane. What do you do? (g)


Hélène B said...

Hi Jen,

I have a spiral notebook (actually 2 or 3)scattered about. They're scattered about because my girls nab them and fill them up with pictures and writing of their own.

So I pretty much have to hope that the idea stays in my brain until I have time to hammer it out on the keyboard. (between snack time, crafts, outside play...)

Jen said...


Heh...I had a roommate who did that. He was an animation student at CalArts, and I would often find my notebook with these cute little characters commenting on whatever I had on the page. LOL. It drove me nuts, but was so charming at the same time. (g)

Your girls probably want to be like mommy. :)


Maggie said...

Okay the bathroom totally takes the cake...

Some of my strangers the margins of a wedding program...on a first date (that did turn into a relationship for a while...he was a writer too...and even had a pen and notepad, bless him. I kept the story, not the guy)...LOTS of stuff on airplanes. The backs of my check registers and deposit slips are always covered (so I never actually HAVE the deposit slips to use...). I always mean to have notebooks with me and somehow they always migrate out of my purse...