Friday, February 2, 2018

Seven People at my Table

Someone once sang about one being the loneliest number. In theory, I get it. Nobody to talk to, and all that. But I can't believe that being 'one' means lonely or my days would get really depressing really fast.

I mean, I work alone. Monday through Friday, from about eight in the morning until five-ish at night, I rely on literally nobody but myself to do my job. That job? Actually creating people for a living.

Which, I’ve been known to point out to friends, means I’m never off the clock even when I say I am. Because it doesn’t matter if I’m alone, with one other person, or in a big group, there’s always inspiration for fiction floating in the air. Conversations. People watching. Even in my dreams.

Yeah, I know, fucked up right? When I think about it, I love that I get to do this but it is kind of weird. Characters, people, poof! Right out of thin air.

So, tonight I went to the monthly writer's meeting for Scottsdale Society of Women Writers and the presenter, Sarah McLean, led us in a writing exercise.

First, we spent about 5 minutes meditating (her profession is teaching meditation).

Can I be honest? I've never really taken to meditation. I've tried it, countless times, but I like my mind all cluttered like it is. And trying to de-clutter it just makes me feel anxious.

Again, I know, fucked up. You can probably guess how much I care.

The lights dimmed and she began guided suggestions.

I did try at the meeting. But thoughts kept coming at my head in rapid-fire succession. As always. A Five Finger Death Punch to my calm.

I paid attention to my breath, the candles, tried a few other tricks and techniques Sarah recommended. Sadly, no matter what I did, I couldn't turn it off. (Side note, it usually takes me an hour, or more, to fall asleep most nights.)

After the meditation and breathing, she gave us a writing prompt. Something we could use to guide our writing portion of the exercise.

Now that I can do!

Prompts are my favorite. Prompts were responsible for a lot of my early writing. Prompts got me started writing more serious fiction. Not to mention, my last 3 non-fiction titles, including 30 Chapters in 30 Days, were all about prompts.

When she said we only had 5 minutes to write, though, my first thought was, that's it? Why not twenty minutes? Of course, it was a dinner and presentation too, so we couldn't write all night. Damn it.

The lights came back up. She gave the prompt. I scribbled like mad.

After we finished she proposed we all choose a partner to read to and listen to.

Now, I don't mind reading out loud. And I've also done a similar raw reading thing in the past. Creative Writing class. Senior year of high school. So, admittedly, it's been a while, but doing it doesn't bother me. I just didn't feel like sharing what I wrote tonight.

Which worked out fine. I was odd gal out at the table. Literally. There were 7 of us and I was lucky 7.

Everyone paired off and I sat, listening to the chatter of white noise coming from half the room and then the other half of the room as each of the women across the six, full tables read what they wrote.

It was actually kind of cool, to hear everything and nothing at the same time.

The white noise was more comforting than the silence had been earlier in the night. So, instead of listening/reading to another gal, I went inside those chaos thoughts and I focused on my characters. I thought about my WiP and the next scene. One I was struggling to figure out.

Before I left for the meeting, I wrapped work early because I was a little stuck. On the way over I tried to piece things together. Nothing seemed right. Too cliché. Too disconnected. Wrong direction for supporting characters.

But, in the midst of the inaudible chatter, it hit me. The right direction. The next scene.

I came home, smiling, and decided to write this post tonight (Wednesday), instead of when I usually write/schedule (Thursdays), so I'd have all day to work on the next scene instead.

Maybe it was the meditation. The full, super, blood moon. Maybe it was me giving in to the noise in my brain. Or perhaps it was due to me being one, alone, while in a room full of people. A common occurrence for me. Sometimes it’s just easier to live inside my head than the real world, you know?

Whatever caused my mind to work double time, something broke through.

And tomorrow I will be alone, though anything but lonely. I have my characters to keep me company after all. And now I know just where they're headed.

• • • • • • • • • • •
In addition to this drivel I also write books, both fiction and non-fiction.
Learn more on my author page.

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