Imperfect Strangers


Why do people insist on talking so loudly in public? Do they really not know how far their voices carry?

Four women playing cards on the table next to me here in local coffee house. Discussion turns to health matters:

WOMAN #1: And then my doctor says, if your bowels don’t make a sound in the next hour, you’re gonna be in trouble.

WOMAN #2: Wow.

WOMAN #1: (leaning forward earnestly) Well, you know what I did, right? I walked around in my bathrobe for forty-five minutes!

Laughter ensues. I vow never to sit next to them again.

Trust me. I wasn’t even eavesdropping. I think they heard her in the hospital across the street. Iiiiiiicckkkkk.

I wrote my required five pages today, but damn. Today was like yesterday, all pain and no glory. No flying fingers, no clever turns of phrase, just two hours of slogging through excruciating prose. Oh well, at least I got my page count.

Should it bother me that I’m conducting research simultaneously with the writing? I’m having to stop and start constantly, looking things up on the Internet (dates, names, biographies, etc.), confirming facts and events. Not fun. But I just discovered something today that may change my entire novel, which is terrifying.

I understand that Arthur Golden took ten years and many, many drafts to write Memoirs of a Geisha, and that he had actually started out writing it in 3rd person. He then ended up rewriting the entire bloody novel in 1st person.

And T.E. Lawrence allegedly lost the entire manuscript to Seven Pillars of Wisdom on a train to (or from) Reading, so he had to start from scratch.

So I wouldn’t be in such awful company if I had to start over. But……..oy.

Well, anyway, on the bright side, the play is going reeeeally well. I banged out 10 pages yesterday and hope to pull out another 5-6 (just for the first scene) either this afternoon or tomorrow (likely tomorrow). It’s not too bad for a beginner’s effort, I don’t think (I’m not counting the last 2-3 scripts — both overambitious — that I began last year), but we’ll see. I’m going to try to be more optimistic about the whole endeavor and not sabotage my efforts — especially not this early in the game — by overanalyzing everything. I may get B. to read it tonight or tomorrow and see if it sounds like something he wants to know more of.

Good news, though. It’s Thursday, January 4, and you know what that means: a new episode of The Office!


2 thoughts on “Imperfect Strangers

  1. I just came across your blog from the AbsoluteWrite message board – I’m enjoying reading about someone else’s creative process (which is currently running completely contrary to mine… oh to write five pages a day…)


    Looking forward to more!

  2. Hi, Marilyn! Thank you so much for your comment!

    Ahhhh… I never said these five pages were any good. I try to use page count as a goal, as it’s easier than trying to ensure perfect writing. I get stuck overanalyzing everything I write, trying to edit as I go. I find that page count takes the pressure off to be perfect, which helps the writing flow. The bonus is when I re-read what I wrote the previous day and realize, hey, that’s not so bad!

    I leave most of the editing to the end. It’s inspiring to have something to edit (probably 1 million words, at the rate I’m going), than just a handful of perfect sentences (that may not even survive to the final draft).

    Have a great day!

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