Tricks and Treats of the Trade
By Kristen Roach Thompson, Associate Coordinator, Bluegrass Writers Studio
I am in the throes of first-draft-thesis-deadlinedom. I've adopted an I-can't-possibly-because-I-have-a-deadline persona. You know, like Carrie Bradshaw after a lunch at a cafe, a stroll around a museum, and shoe shopping. "I can't possibly." Then she goes up to her apartment, cranks out a fable-turned-newspaper-column on her Mac and is back in action having a Cosmopolitan and late-night window-shopping for Jimmy Choos lickety-split. No sweat.
Guys - let me translate. You're enjoying your afternoon, having a few beers with the guys, watching golf and chucking mini corndogs in a boiling pot of oil in the yard. Suddenly, you have to go, because of y'know, responsibility. Shoot. You run home, mow the grass, and are back before Tiger Woods drops out of the tournament. And there's still plenty of chips and dip.
Okay, BOTH of those situations are cliche and overdone, but that's the point ... the portrayal of writing deadlines is also drastically misrepresented in the media and pop culture.
It's actually much more difficult. And much more fun.
For months I have been saying, I can't possibly. Long before the Cosmos rolled out of the shaker. There has been a less-than-attractive, grinding, machinelike motion to the preparation I've been doing. I would read a book on the craft of writing, and note on a tablet (a paper one, mind you) the page number and quote of anything that resonated with me. I'd read a book of poems, and copy the best lines with their citations. I watched documentaries about the flower industry, bottled water, and radioactive wolves for my outsider stories. I felt like a shoplifter, filling my pockets and wishing someone would stop me.
Ah, but the spoils are good. You know the feeling - Halloween isn't that far off. You've manged to accrue a vast sum of sweet, delicious morsels, but you're not exactly sure of what -- until it spills out on the kitchen table. You paw through. Ew! Bit-o-Honey? Why do they still even make those? Then there's the good-good stuff. Kit Kats, Reese's, Hershey. The candy gods have smiled upon ye.
For a writer (okay, me - I can't speak for Grisham or Huffington), the equivalent of Mounds in your Trick-or-Treat bag is amassing a pile of notes that inspire you. Then, in one magic loot-listing moment, organizing them by taping them up on the wall.
It's not quite as romantic as NYC or PGA. But this is exactly what I pictured when I bought my house last fall: it has a good hallway for spilling notes. Some writers actually write on their walls to get organized. Others step around stacks on the floor, twisting waistlines and timelines. I have brown paneling and teal carpet down my hall reminding me, relentlessly, life's what you make it, see beyond the immediate. Let the shoes woo you, watch everything from your hightop bar table, fall for a chip shot or an errant sandbox corndog. But fall for something.
Don't walk up and down the hallway of your life, with the brown paneling and ill-chosen wall-to-wall declaring "I can't possibly." At some point, you have to pause and realize, the costume you made and the pillowcase you chose were just right this October 31. You have caught every bit of story you were meant to catch. Mygod, it may even be shoes or golf.
But don't ever write off the strange gifts that have been dropped in your bag. Have you ever even tried a Bit-o-Honey?
Published on September 08, 2014