Sunday, December 27, 2009

Writers? Neurotic? Surely Not!

I hope all of our readers are enjoying the many end-of-the-year holidays and looking forward to 2010! Personally, it scares me that the decade is ending, as I still have a clear memory of being at my then-boyfriend's-now-husband's house playing glow tag (yes, we played glow tag in high school) and watching the original Matrix (probably on VHS...) to ring in the new millennium. (Can you tell how cool we were?)

I'm big into gift-giving, which means this particular time of the year is both awesome and super stressful for me. I love/hate running around the mall, trying to find a parking spot (my record this season is driving around for 45 minutes before getting one!) and then standing in line, hoping I've found the perfect gift for each person.

I'm big on finding the perfect gift. Even if I know what I'm getting someone, I obsess over the little things. Here's a perfect example--I bought my husband two sweaters this year. Why two, you ask? He certainly doesn't need two. We have a closet full of sweaters, and he doesn't have a huge color palette, which means all his sweaters of various combinations of blue/black/grey/white (maybe a little red stripe thrown in here and there.)

The reason I bought him two sweaters was because I couldn't decide between the two. One was blue and hooded, and the other was a black and grey stripe crew neck. They both had their merits--he likes blue, but on the other hand he also likes black and grey. He loves wearing hoodies, but he also has many crew neck sweaters. But which one was the perfect sweater? Now that was a conundrum. And in the end, I bought both, because I figured if each one on its own wasn't perfect, then I'd at least hit all the bases by buying both.

Now this is an example of my own personal neurosis, but I think it extends, in a way, to many writers. Do you want something to be purple or violet? Or aubergine? Or eggplant? Or royal purple? Or lavender? Or indigo? Or orchid? Or maybe it should actually be magenta, or fuschia... you get the idea. Sometimes being a writer is all about being neurotic, because it DOES matter if your character is wearing a violet shirt or a lavender shirt. And a million other little details that changes a novel from just a story to something truly unique and interesting.

And sometimes, the details that matter are the things with which we write, rather than the actual story. And that's what this post is actually about.

Let me tell you a story.

Once upon a time, there was a girl named Sara. And she liked to write. One day, she thought, I think I shall write a novel. And so she began. She began on a computer with Windows and Microsoft Word (odd details, but they shall become important later.) And she wrote several pages and then said, oh no, writing a novel is quite hard, I'll just play computer games instead.

And time passed.

Then, much later, she took a graduate level children's writing class in which she needed to submit a story. And lo, she had no story! So she did as all good writers did, and dug deep into the depths of her hard drive, and it brought forth several pages of a long forgotten novel. And it was good.

She received a good grade, which she expected. What she did not expect was that the novel would not leave her alone. It entered her thoughts at unexpected times. Its characters spoke to her, their siren call leading her fingers to her keyboard. And the girl thought, perhaps I shall write a novel once more.

But the novel was tempestuous, and did not write easily. It fought with the girl. The characters changed their minds and the plot refused to come forth.

And then, one day, the girl's computer became ill with a virus. And it died. Thankfully, the girl was able to salvage her hard drive and all that belonged to it. She put all of her files on a brand new, sleekfully black Macintosh computer. And she thought to herself, I shall not worry my mind with any more Microsoft products, and bought iWork instead.

The novel continued, using Pages rather than Word. But there was a problem.

Word looked like this:
And Pages looked like this:

It should not have mattered to the girl, but it did. She said, I will learn to use Pages. I will learn to love its off-center layout.

But she could not, and her novel stalled. While her characters appreciated the girl's commitment to non-Microsoft products, they did not wish to be off-center. And so, the girl bought Microsoft Word.

And it was good.

The moral of the story is, writers are neurotic. And that's okay.

Happy New Year, everyone! :)


  1. I have to get people the perfect gift too! Because if it's not something they like/love, I know they'll never use it. The Matrix on VHS? Wow, that IS old school (but still cool ;D)

    I can't imagine using anything BUT Microsoft. The girl made a good choice :)

    Oh, and I just noticed that The First Novels Club post is right above mine on The YA Blogosphere<3

  2. Interesting... this girl named Sara had a very similar experience... And she ALSO loves to give gifts and has frequently given two similar things, rather than just one because she couldn't choose...


  3. Glow tag and the Matrix on VHS! I owned the Matrix on VHS! And my millennium NYE was actually even more boring.

    And yeah, you know I'm neurotic. I had to pick a character's favorite color and thought about it for five minutes. Also, I totally would twitch if my document wasn't centered. Now get writing! :)


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