Monday, January 24, 2011
And We Solve Crime!
Writers have very glamorous lives. Just look at movies and TV. We stumble upon secrets, we ALL jet around on book tours and signings and appearances on Oprah. We get recognized on subways, and arrive at nightclubs in limos and get waved in by the bouncers. (I know this because I saw it on NCIS.) We even solve crime! Just look at Richard Castle. (Points to picture)
We're all model slim and gorgeous, too. Because sitting on your butt in front of the computer for 8 to 10 (or 12-18) hours a day burns so many calories.
Sadly, none of this is true. Writer's real lives would make terrible movies, because it's not that exciting to watch someone do what we do all day. It wouldn't be very pretty, either. When I get to the end of a project, I don't stop for ANYTHING, including a shower.
We have the MOST exciting jobs in the world... but all the good stuff happens in our heads.
Creating a world in a book is even more exciting than a Hollywood blockbuster, at least until they invent five senses surround-sound-smell-taste-touch-o-vision. And as much as I love movies (and I do love movies) there's nothing like vicariously living in adventure in the pages of the book.
If I do my job right a book is more like virtual reality, or as close to Avatar as you and I will ever see. (As hard as it is to reconcile that I'll never get to ride a pterodactyl.) In a great book, we don't just watch the character. We live the story in the character's skin.
I do tend to make a lot of movie analogies when I talk about writing. One, because I love movies. But also because when I write, it's very much like creating that surround-o-vision movie in my head.
In The Splendor Falls, for example, my goal was to bring the lush Southern setting to life--the smells, the humidity, the food (mmmm, cheesy grits). But I also had to take the read through the heroine Sylvie's emotional journey. Emotions are like a sixth sense--they have a very sensory quality. Just think about how your skin feels when you get really angry, or how your gut feels when you're scared.
The challenges come from keeping it exciting for you and putting all those senses, the full 5D role-playing experience, into words that will transmit it into your head like an avatar interface. Put in those terms, that's a pretty damn exciting job.
Even if I'm not solving crimes on the side.