My husband complains that I love change too much.
Ladies, does this really come as any surprise? I’m not sure why he seems so taken aback by my desire to change things up a bit: redecorating the living room, rearranging the bedroom, adding more pretty plants to the garden, reversing a decision about something that I previously opposed.
Change is inevitable. Otherwise, we’d all still be living off the land, traveling by horse-drawn wagons, suffering in the summer heat, and shivering in the winter cold.
And who hasn’t heard that a woman is prone to change her mind. That’s our prerogative. Right, ladies?
One thing that I have noticed is the change in my writing style. It’s amazing how much it has changed over the years, hopefully in a good way. I find that developing characters is easier since I can usually put myself into their heads when I write. Describing settings is another increasingly easy part of the writing job since I see where the characters are and simply transcribe what I’m envisioning.
But, as in life, my stories are not always happy-go-lucky everything-is-wonderful type of books.
Apparently my latest manuscript is one of them.
As always, my dear husband, Marc, is the first to read my drafts. He is one of the smartest men that I know…maybe the smartest men that I know…except, apparently, in matters of dealing with a writer-wife-who-is-prone-to-change.
“Did you get through the first ten chapters?” I asked.
“What?! Only two?” I’m stunned.
That was the wrong answer. I wanted to throw something at him, mainly his laptop so that he’ll get with the program and read the other eight. However, I’m biting my tongue and sitting on my hands (plus his laptop is no where in sight).
“Well,” I finally say, trying to sound calm. “It’s due in just a few weeks. Might I ask what you thought about those first two chapters?”
And then he did the unthinkable: He told me!
“Well, to be honest,” he started without any hesitation whatsoever—I honestly have no idea what he was thinking—“I don’t know if it’s your mood or the writing, but those two chapters were very gloomy.”
It took me a moment to register the fact that my dear, sweet, loving husband just called my adaptation of Sense & Sensibility ‘gloomy’…even if he had only read the first two chapters.
“Seriously? You didn’t just say ‘gloomy’, did you? Come on, Marc. Their father dies on page two! Are they supposed to be laughing it up and partying? Hee heeing and haw hawing? Their futures have completely changed and not for the better! Of course it’s gloomy!”
That’s when he shrugged.
He’s lucky that laptop was no where in sight because then I really might have chucked it at him.
Look, let’s face it. Writers are creative people. We also have a little crazy in us. We have to because our job is to observe, think, and write (and edit…oh boy, do we edit!). It’s a solitary career, one that requires us to miss out on girls’ lunches, say no to candle parties, and neglect to make dinner if we are on a roll. People like to offer us their ideas for what would be a great story or ending or character, but if we don’t own the idea, we certainly cannot write about it. So not only do we live inside of our own heads, we work there, too. Brainstorming buddies are great to have. In the long run, however, the ultimate decision to make or break a character is ours and ours alone.
Our greatest moment of glory is not in publishing the book nor in the sale of the book but in what people think about the book.
Calling a story ‘gloomy’ or shrugging shoulders is akin to telling someone that their newborn baby is funny looking! Or, even worse, ugly!
When you read a book that you simply loved, leaving a review is truly the only paycheck a real writer wants. Real writers write because they have stories in them…not for royalties or advances or rankings (although those would be nice to have, too). Writers who love the craft of storytelling do it so that someone—and hopefully a lot of someones—read the story and say, “Wow! That was a great book!”
Now, to return to the topic of change…
Back to the editing board I must go, re-reading the draft for the bazillionth time, to see if it is, indeed, gloomy. Too gloomy. And if it is, I guess my love of change might just be a good thing to have after all.