Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Possession of a Mad House Wife!

I had put down my novel for a couple of weeks. I am close to the end and suddenly became afraid. The end must pull all the pieces of the novel together neatly and cleverly. I was not sure I was up to the task.

There's another thing, too. I don't want it to end. I love my characters and the world in which they live. I don't want to say good bye to them, too.

But yesterday I woke up knowing I had to throw myself back into my writing. Somedays while I have been working on this particular story, the words seem to appear on my screen with ease. These are magical moments and the reason I write. At those moments I wouldn't want to be doing anything else.

Yesterday was not one of those days. But I was determined to make some progress. I sat from 10 am to 8 pm in front of my computer. I took small breaks for a glass of water, a quick lunch, a short drive to pick up my son from school but the entire time I had my story in my brain. I heard dialogue and story plots, I visited locals and wrote dialogue--in my head. But putting these things down on paper was laborious. But I plunged on, committed to getting the thoughts from my head down and out of my overcrowded brain.

At dinner my young son commented, "You're like a woman possessed." He was completely right. I was so completely preoccupied that I didn't have time to worry about things that I usually worry about in a day. I liked that. But I was terrified that I would forget the small details that kept bouncing around in my head. I wrote notes on small scraps of paper, typed story lines out in detail, repeated the small scenes that my imagination was creating deep inside my brain, over and over again, while I was taking a shower.

I wrote about 25 pages and I desperately needed to hear my words back. I asked my husband if he would mind reading my words. I needed to hear what I had written so I could understand what I had left to write.

He began reading at about 9:45. Through yawns and awkward sequences I heard my words re-told to me. I was listening intently. When he thought he was finished he put down the computer, "I'ts good," he said. But he was not finished yet. I had still two more chapters I need him to read. I looked at his face. I knew he was exhausted. "I'll read these to you," I told him. So, I began to read. I came to a rough patch in my writing and I stopped to ask Tom a question. "Would it sound better if????? Tom. Tom. TOM!" My loving husband had fallen fast asleep.

I woke him up. Go to bed I demanded. "It's really good I heard everything. I just fell asleep at the last part." Ya, right, I thought. I'm writing a horror story and you fell asleep. Must be one great story!

He climbed into bed. I waited up to say goodnight to my eldest son. As I walked down the corridor to his room I thought to myself, how many more nights will I be able to kiss him good night. I am not prepared to miss any. My husband hadn't even said goodnight to Kyle and this made me sad for him. One day soon, he won't be able to walk into his room late at night and give him a kiss.

I climbed into my bed finally. My husband woke up briefly, "Love you," he said. I didn't answer. He got out of bed and went to sleep on the couch. I followed.

"What are you doing?" I asked confused.

"You're mad at me so I'm going to sleep on the couch."

"I'm not mad at you," I had to tell him. "I'm just disappointed in myself for writing such a crappy horror story that it actually put you to sleep."

He tried to argue. But at this point I didn't want to hear his insincere reassurances.

Story and plot played in my head as I tried to sleep. The wind began to howl and then the rain started. The skylights in our bedroom echoed the terrible storm. Then Tom began to snore. It was another long night.

I will begin work again today on my book. But my youngest is home sick and I'm so, so tired. But I know too well that I have to show up. If I don't, I might miss one of those magical days where everything comes together and I fall in love with writing once again.


  1. Ugh, Terry, this post is so beautiful and so painful all at once. These words, especially, are so resonant: "But I know too well that I have to show up. If I don't, I might miss one of those magical days where everything comes together and I fall in love with writing once again."

    I hope that today is indeed one of those magical ones.

  2. When I use my husband as my reader he barely listens to the plot or what I think is the great part of it, he listens for errors in word structure or confusion. It's kind of annoying. He, also, could fall asleep in the middle of me reading, and I'm sure he has.

    Just get it down while you're in this incredible creative period, Terry. It's wonderful things are coming together so well.

  3. Thanks Kristen and Linda: You both inspire me! I will show up today and see. There is nothing better than a few moments when it all works.

  4. You are very brave to enlist Tom to be your reader. I rarely have Dave read my stuff because it is too dangerous that he wont react the way I want him to. Same thing with learning how to play golf or ski. So much safer asking a trusted third party who doesnt share your bed and anxiety on a daily basis. It says a great deal about your relationship that you wanted him to read -- and that he tried (even though he didnt quite make it). I have no doubt that he is one of your biggest fans. And I'm always here if you want to send some pages....

  5. Emily: I was just thinking about you. Would you really be willing to do another read? You're amazing.

    But it's true, hubby never does react like I want him to...and I feel so bad for him, he really does try.

  6. Poor hubby; tough to be the spouse of us artists...
    But it's very exciting you're so possessed! That can only be good for the writing. Show up, show up! And your characters will always be there, right? Besides, when you write "the end" you still need to go back and do rewrites and edit, no?

  7. Hey, send pages my way too! I am a very willing (and honest!) reader!

    But I am with Emily on this one...I RARELY let Jeff read my stuff. Part of it is that I'm afraid he will not see it/hear it like I do and part of it is that he reads a lot of legal stuff at work and he looks for little technical errors when I want an overall "great job, honey!"

    This surprises many people but he doesn't even read the parenting column I write every week for the paper. His co-workers tell him what it's about. He jokingly says, "I dont have to read it, I live it!"

    I think it's better to have him not involved in my writing, in general. It is SO helpful to have good writing friends in your life, who don't share your bed or your retirement plans with you. :)

    Here's a toast to willing and loving spouses who can never seem to win.

    (I'm not kidding about sending me pages...)