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Thursday, May 23, 2013

Careful or You'll End Up in My Novel

(photo credit:

Writers are weird.  It’s entirely true.  Most of us will readily admit that we’d rather sit quietly alone somewhere reading or writing when the alternative is an overwhelming room of hundreds of other people.  Sure, we’re social  and can hold our own in conversations that involve books, writing or a subject we’re highly engrossed in researching for our latest project, but we largely prefer to hover at the periphery of chit-chatty conversation—we’re studying your dialogue, don’t you know?
As I type this post, I am surrounded by 200 student athletes and their parents at a banquet to celebrate a school year of sportsmanship and All-American competition, yet I am awkwardly separate and alone.  It won’t be until I awake around one or two a.m. tomorrow that my brain finally comes up with the perfect words I could have used this evening to insert myself into one of the small clusters of laughing and talking people at the tables all around me.  For now, I just look up every few seconds from my smartphone and smile like an imbecile at anyone in sight.
My good friend and fellow writer Mary Weber Furlow and I share a theory that we, and most other creative people we know, are afflicted with at least some small degree of an Asperger-like syndrome that makes us over analyze and then feel uncomfortable about our “performances” in certain social situations.  What I have come to realize recently is, while this kind of insecurity has a tendency to make me stand out like a lump at a cafeteria table clutching her Android like a floatation device, it’s also what makes me and other writers good at defining the motivation, affects, and responses  of the characters in our work.
So writers are weird.  Big deal.  I guarantee you we aren’t the strangest folks you’ll ever meet or sit across a table from lauding the achievements of teenage golfers, cheerleaders and football players.  Please, cut us a little slack and forgive our awkwardness.  And, while you’re at it, you might want to mind what you say to--or even near--us…unless, of course, you don’t mind ending up in one of our novels.