Writers are “special”

Writing has taught me a lot of things about myself.

Unfortunately, some of them are just flat-out ridiculous.

I’m one of those closeted weekend writers (a.k.a. a person with a day job), and as such, I’ve gotten used to squeezing creative thoughts into every free moment I have.

I compose and reanalyze sentences in the shower, and fume over plot problems while brushing my teeth. I hash out dialogue while watering the plants or grilling dinner on the porch. I list out character traits while I walk from the parking lot to my office, and I work out themes and motifs while driving around town. Then when I have time to plop myself in front of my computer, I know where I’m going, because I’ve thought everything out ahead of time. It’s terribly effective.

But I’ve recently realized that there’s a downside.

Recently, while cooking dinner on the porch, my roommate and I were chatting through the screen door. My next door neighbor (also out grilling), looked up in surprise when he heard my roommate respond to a question I posed.

I cocked my head at him, confused at his reaction.

“Oh!” He exclaimed, peering at me over his grill cover. “Sorry…It’s just nice to hear you talking to another person for once.” He smiled, kindly, and turned his attention back to his hot dogs.

I was left to stew. What could he mean?

I took a few minutes to ponder, and then took a close look at myself as an outsider might see me. It was then that I realized two separate things, that, when combined, make average, little-ol’ me look like a big, giant nut-job.

1. I tend to think verbally, and,
2. I talk with my hands.

While I thought I was rewriting lines, an outside person would just see me blurting out random statements, punctuating them with wide, sweeping arm movements. While I worked on dialogue, someone else might think I was having an argument with myself–complete with wild gesticulations and inappropriate hand gestures.

I began to realize the kinds of things that my neighbors and co-workers might have witnessed. Me jabbing a hose accusingly at my herb garden, crying out “How dare you!”, as I imagined my main character confronting her foe.

I blushed as I recalled counting on my fingers as I decided that a character was “popular, cocky, and afraid of standing too close to the tuba section in band class.”

I was floored by mental images of myself muttering at half-cooked hamburgers, freshly scrubbed dishes, and my steering wheel.

So, on the positive side, I’m making lots of progress on my YA novel, and I’ve finally figured out why I get toothpaste all over my mirror.

Now I’m trying not to mind that others think I’m schizophrenic.


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