Writer’s Life: From Keyboard to Kitchen

Yes, I’d like to be writing all the time. Maybe break a little for more coffee and a bathroom break. I’d like to be in my jammies thinking of high adventure and romance. I’d like to be nibbling different chocolate fantasies. I’d like to have elegant garden parties. I’d like to have a garden for elegant garden parties. I’d like to know enough people to attend an elegant garden party.  Skip all that. I’d like a quiet garden to write in.  And so goes a writer’s mind. Always running off to….

But the reality is, well reality. Danged stuff. Always in the way of a good story.

I’m in a writer’s funk.  I just spent two hours with an eloquent brother-in-law writing wonderful, elegant, thank you notes for the occasion of his mother’s last days. I have bill-paying all around my elbows to where there is no blank space on my desk. The kitchen requires some serious work as my personal chef (husband) has been having a very creative day. All I want to do is pull out my one of my works in progress and immerse myself in a happy place. But, the blog is behind by a day and I can’t think of new words to write that would forward the story one bit.

So let us review what I have been able to accomplish lately. I’ve been reading some published romance work on my Kindle lately while waiting in waiting rooms for my current transportation to be fixed. The stories disturbed me. On a writerly visceral level. They were awesomely intriguing in their storyline, the characters were true to themselves, the places were all well drawn, but I had to work so very hard to keep reading. Why? Only the intriguing story idea kept me going and it was uphill the whole way to a moderately satisfying ending. Gosh. Is my work that good/bad? Dunno. Will never know as I am blind to my own genius/ineptitude. But reading the first book had me really worried.  After reading the entire series, uphill both ways, in a blinding blizzard, (what they used to say about walking to school). I finally figured out what the problems was. And what a colossal waste of characters and plot.

It is true. Character is key. The ability to draw/write characters compelling to the imagination and ability to draw a reader into the life of that character is the difference between an indifferent read and a remarkable one. This story series had everything else in great quantity. The characters were well sketched. That was the problem. Sketched. No depth. Yes, they yearned, but in the gray area. Not the dark places that souls molder helplessly. Yes they rejoiced, but not in the sparkly reflection of lights in the eye.  Yes, they worried, but not in the frightening muck that smears and takes forever to clear.

I have read many books that were like oatmeal. Bland in every way, but not bad. So I discovered as I cleaned my kitchen where I labored as my mind contemplated, that character development must have layers too. Just like the dried-on yuk on my counter tops, some things are easily removed, some things take more soap, and some things must be scrubbed to shine and gleam. So too must our characters. They must be sometimes transparent, sometimes stubborn, and sometimes very sticky to really be memorable or stories are a waste of ink and paper.

And so I finish this blog, thinking, wishing there were any chocolates in the house but back from the kitchen and in my seat where I want to be—at the keyboard.