What passion won’t do for us, deadlines will. Sometimes, I write in passionate frenzy for love of the story. Other times, it’s plough straight ahead, blinders on, because I have a deadline on my tail. In both cases, the end results are the same.
Odd meals. Food in the refrigerator that wasn’t green to start with; or was green to start with, but now isn’t. Piles of unopened mail. A level of housekeeping somewhat below my mother’s standards, possibly below the Board of Health’s standards.
I’ve lost count of the number of books in which the author ends the acknowledgments by thanking her family for putting up with dirty laundry, too many pizza take-outs, and weeks of being somewhere else, a.k.a. lost in an imaginary world.
Fortunate writers live in families who take these things in stride. We mystery writers are especially fortunate because we live in families who, in addition to the usual writing stresses, comprehend that it’s normal to wander through the house at 1:00 in the morning, asking anyone still awake if they remember the difference between “bodily harm” and “grievous assault.”
They accept that stabbing a raw chicken with a stiletto to see how much pressure it takes to puncture the skin is a rational act, and don’t fret too much about where we acquired a stiletto in the first place.
They become accustomed to seeing e-mail lying around with subject lines such as “My thoughts on exotic poisons,” or “10 basic rules of car-jacking.”
Our loving family members go to great lengths to encourage our writing. When I declared that I wanted to turn writing from a serious hobby into a business, the first thing my husband did was take a cooking class called, “Men, Get a Life: Learn to Cook.” He now proudly boasts, “I can cook supper. I’ve had special training.”
Most of all, they have a deep-seated belief that we can do this. We can write stories, finish them, meet deadlines, and be published. If we’re fortunate enough to win awards, they’ll be there in the audience, dressed to the nines, to cheer us on.
I propose that we, as writers, start an annual Writers Celebrate Their Families day. On that day we shut down our word processors and do something nice with those wonderfully supportive people with whom we live.
Since this might take a bit of planning around deadlines, and we really should plan something special, I’m telling you new holiday this early. Let’s plan on celebrating July 12 as the first WCTF day. Why July 12? Because on July 12, 1965 Snoopy dragged a portable typewriter to his dog house for the first time, sat down, and typed those immortal words, “It was a dark and stormy night. . .”
What’s your strangest writing quirk?
What’s the nicest thing a family member has said to you about your writing?
What do you think we should do on July 12th to celebrate our families?