A long time ago in a city far away I was sitting in my car, waiting to turn left at a traffic light at a very busy intersection, when I realised I needed to go to the bathroom. I’d been shopping for a couple of hours or so at the mall and rather than go back to the escalator and chance getting waylaid by more sale signs I’d just have to check out (those stores know how to “captivate” us, don’t they?), and decided to wait “to go” until I got home. It was only about a 15 minute drive, and I was so near the rear exit of the store where I usually parked. I’m sure most women can identify with that situation.
Anyhow, as I was sitting there waiting, my mind started doing one of those “what if” things: What if that guy on the corner comes over here and opens the door, climbs in, and points a gun at me? I don’t have time to get hijacked now! I need to go the bathroom! Oh God! What would I ever do? Then my overactive imagination kicked in. But what if it really, really happened? It could, y’know!
You (my brain was beginning to reprimand me now) should have gone back in Macy’s when you had the chance. You’re gonna be sorrrrr – eeeeee. You never lisssss – eeeen! And so on my thoughts raced until the light finally changed to green. I made my left hand turn, turned left again onto the freeway and drove home in 10 minutes flat.
There was a writing conference coming up in Oak Ridge a few weeks after that. I was registered and had a confirmed appointment with an editor who was attending. At that time I was also preparing a few pages of my writing (up to 10 pages, I’d been told would be fine to submit). It might possibly lead to that big break every writer hopes for–finding an editor who is interested in your work.
So I sat down and started writing a story about a woman sitting at a traffic light who gets hijacked. And who has to pee. Who has to pee real bad. And what might happen to such a woman as the character who was still beginning to take shape in my head. I wrote about 2 pages of “Journey” and added it to the pages I’d already done for my submission to the big-time New York editor.
I was so excited the day of the conference when I finally met my real live editor for a real live interview and discussion about the work I’d sent her. Now I should probably tell you that most writers usually submit a 10-page extract from a novel they have already written, or are in the process of writing. I chose instead to give her a sample of several pieces of my work–from children’s literature and what I call “creative” non-fiction, as well as my fiction–in hopes I might get guidance as to which direction I should take with my writing.
What I was really hoping for was that she would show interest in the few pages of the novel in progress I’d given her. It had already won 3rd place at a prior writer’s conference, and I thought it was just short of brilliant.
She first admonished me, sort of, for not sticking to one piece as most writers had, then proceeded to push everything from the envelope aside except for two pages. She picked up those and said, “. . . but I AM really interested in what I read here on these two pages. I really love this character! and I’d like to see this when you’ve finished it.” She went on to explain that she loved this older female character because there weren’t enough good books with characters of that age. (The interest in “age” may have been a direct result of the fact that she was probably nearing her 60’s at that time.) She also opined that my writing was done so well as to “probably need little editing effort” as well.
I remember stuttering something about having hoped she would like the other one instead–the one whose female protagonist’s ex-husband, the dentist, shows up after divorcing her a few years back in favor of his glamorous receptionist, who had now rejected him in favor of a film producer with more money than the dentist and fame as well. Now that ex-hubby was dying, he wanted to give her the baby she’d always wanted when they were married–through a surrogate mother of her choosing. As mentioned before, I thought it was absolutely brilliant. Today I‘m pretty sure it wasn’t, but I did love the scene between Reece and her friend Chloe when they were talking about Abraham and Sarah, and Abraham’s concubine, Hagar).
But Big-Time Ms. Editor didn’t seemed too impressed with that one. That’s the way it was with editors, I’d been warned. You just have to keep looking until you find one that likes what you do. And what this one liked was JJ, the character that only lived, other than what was projected in those two pages, inside my head.
I never wrote that book, because I got scared and just froze everytime I tried to sit down and write more JJ. Instead, I began to write other things–newsletters for every organization I was a member in–anything (!) to let me not have to think about JJ and her “journey” (that’s what I’d thought it would be called at the time).
So here I am with the NaNoWriMo thing still looming in front of me. A perfect time to resurrect my JJ character, and I literally can’t find the time to write. Or can I? Am I still just procrastinating because I’m afraid to fail? If I never finish, is it failure? That’s where I am now in my novel efforts to write a novel, whether in 30 days, or however long it might take. In the meantime, I’ve become happy at my age in “just being” rather than always having to have a goal in order to be happy in life. Maybe my problem is just bad timing after all.
Early Thursday morning Hubby and I will head down to Las Vegas for a long weekend of frolic with some old friends. Not a lot of time to sit and reflect, the way you need to if you’re writing anything; I’m taking the laptop with me, however, “just in case.“)
As for Wintersong, like the offerings on television, I’m setting up a series of re-runs from some past posts that are personal favorites of mine that are set to post on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. With any luck, weather conditions will allow us to return home on Sunday. Maybe I’ll come back knowing “JJ” a lot better next week than I do now. Or will I? HHHmmmmmmmmmmmmm.