A Pleasant Surprise – A Writer’s Tale

I tell people that I write. Because I do. But I have a hard time calling myself a writer. I wouldn’t dream of telling anyone I was an author, either, even though I’m working on my third novel right now.

However, I just had one of the coolest writing experiences I’ve ever had, and one which I’m eager to remember in years to come. Which is why I’m writing a second blog post today, something I rarely, if ever, do. Ready? My tale might not be exciting to anyone who isn’t me, but here goes.

My current work in progress includes some six main characters. I wrote the first ten pages of it about a year ago, in this blog in fact [if you’re interested, search for “Mr. and Mrs. Adams,” “Amanda,” and “Heather.”] During my semester at Sarah Lawrence this year, I took a writing class, and began to write this novel in earnest.

About five months ago, I wrote a scene in which Amanda, one of my characters, is drunk and having a breakdown of sorts. She has never been drunk before, is introverted, is scared of her own passions and hides behind her instincts as a caregiver much of the time. As the listener, she can remain safe and closed off while still maintaining meaningful relationships with people she cares about.

Now, this scene I wrote so many months ago was, I knew, going to fit in only towards the very end of the novel. I haven’t looked at the scene in months, waiting for the right time to go back to it and insert it where I wanted it to go. The day before yesterday, I was writing the scene that I knew would directly precede it, in which Amanda’s friend makes her a drink, and Amanda, for the first time ever, decides to be reckless and takes it.

In the scene I wrote the other day, I had her friend making her a White Russian. The next scene I wrote was about other characters. Today, I wanted to put in the scene I’d written all those months ago, and so I scrolled to the very bottom of my file to reread it and see what I was going to have to change. And here’s the kicker. I’d written there that Amanda was drunk on “milky White Russians.”

!!!

I had NO IDEA that I’d specified in that scene what she’d been drinking! I didn’t remember AT ALL that I’d already had the idea of what I wanted her to be drunk on! When I’d written the scene a couple days ago, I’d decided to go for White Russians because I thought it was the kind of yummy alcoholic drink that her friend would mix in order to lure Amanda into drinking!

But it seems that Amanda told me ages ago that she wanted her first experience with alcohol to be with this particular drink. It seems that even her friend, a relatively minor side-character, knew in February already that she was going to make Amanda a White Russian for her first alcoholic beverage. It seems that I know my characters even better than I thought, or else that they’ve been driving me to write what they feel is the truth for them.

So. Maybe not the most exciting tale for anyone who hasn’t had the experience of their writing taking on a life of its own. But let me tell you, I’m going to be grinning about this revelation all day long.

EDIT: Another thing – in this same scene, written months ago, I’d mentioned homesickness for her mother. In a scene I wrote about a week ago, Amanda was missing her father and feeling homesick. So yeah, I think Amanda is really quite alive in my mind. Which is exciting.

My Desk

My desk is wooden, old and creaking. The drawers stumble and rattle when they’re opened and shut, like old wheezing men, protesting the exercise forced on them. The keyboard tray slumps down precariously when any weight is put on it, threatening to someday tumble to the floor.

The desktop itself is large and smooth, real wood or else a very good imitation. On the right there’s a small, square box of tissue, blue and reassuring. It’s a homely little thing, but comforting somehow in its ordinariness. Behind it is a pile of books – Sophocles, volume I and The Norton Anthology of Drama, volume I. Underneath them lie two large notebooks, one black and bearing the name of the college and the other a yellow Mead. Beside them lie a pair of black ballet shoes still in their box and a ball of dark purple yarn and a scarf-in-progress. Behind these, nestled against the wall, are DVDs and CDs, just a few, dearly beloved and not willing to be left behind.

In the middle of the desktop is yet another pile – a blue folder weighted down by a green Mead notebook lying underneath a recycled grey notebook. On top of all these lies a copy of Martin Luther’s Three Treatises, a train-ticket stub tucked at page 105 as a bookmark. A scrunchie lies abandoned between this pile and the large computer screen, along with an overflowing plastic box of paperclips, a pink set of Post-Its, a flashlight and a Scotch-tape dispenser.

Next to these, on the far left of the desk, is a small and cheerful pail with pins leaning against it [STITCH & BITCH and I LOVE HH] and in the pail are an assortment of black pens and brightly colored highlighters, as well as a pair of children’s scissors and an unsharpened pencil with a cheerful star-shaped eraser stuck to its end. Finally, in the left hand back corner of the desk is a black lamp, goose-neck poised in an odd position so as to cast the most advantageous light.

At 1:35AM, the objects on the desk are reassuring and homey, reminders that life can be comfortable, even if it’s only on a small four-by-two foot desk.