"Well, I am writing..."
There are several open tables in the library, yet Little Miss Mary Sunshine chose to occupy a table with me. I don't know why, but she asked nicely before she sat down and since I don't need a table for four to my lonesome, I said Sure.
Just like that. "Sure."
I kept on redlining my manuscript, crossing out the stupid words and adding in words that (I hope) are marginally less stupid. Even though I haven't finished the story, I'm slogging through the first draft to create draft 1.0.5; hopefully after I get that far I can figure out how to get from where I stopped to the ending.
I know how it ends...I just haven't figured out what happens between the climax of the story and "The End." (Oh stop it...we're not talking sex here, we're talking climax as in a literary sense. You learned that in High School English, so stop snickering and thinking "Hehehe she said 'climax.'" You dirty thing you.) So I'm doing a bit of editing, hoping that something insanely brilliant comes to me whilst I substitute stupidity for Slightly Less Stupid.
Little Miss Mary Sunshine was taking copious notes from a rather thick book, which appeared to be All About Robber Barons, when she leaned back and sighed, then peered across the table to take note of what I was doing. I was taking a break from wreaking havoc with my red pen, and was typing some of the changes into the actual manuscript on my nifty laptop. This is when her Light Bulb moment occurred, and she observed as a matter of fact, without the squeal that annoys me, "You're a writer."
"Can I read some of it?" she asked hopefully.
I don't know, can you? No, I did not say that...but I certainly thought it, my snotty little self peeking out for just a moment. The first four chapters were right there, bloody red from all the corrections, so with a nod I warned, "It's a first draft...it's not very good and needs to be polished a few hundred more times."
She did not mind. She had never seen a story in progress, and since she someday hopes to be a writer...
"You write, you're a writer," I said simply. Because it's true; you don't have to be paid for the endeavor. You don't have to be any good at it. If you write, you're a writer. It's as simple as that. It's one of the few things you can be on desire alone. You can't decide you want to cut people up and call yourself a surgeon, but you can damn well vomit words onto paper and declare yourself a writer.
She read quietly, and I went back to stumbling through my typing, although without the manuscript pages it was a moot effort. When she was done I expected the pages to be handed back, but instead she shuffled through again, settling on the third chapter. "You totally changed how it starts," she murmured. "How did you think of the way you changed it?"
Honestly, I haven't a clue. It sounded awkward, so I rewrote it. I often don't have a clue when I'm making changes.
She wanted to know how it ends; I gave her the rough idea that I'm working with, although that could change as the story evolves.
She put the pages back into order and handed them back. "How," she asked "did you get the idea for the story? I never know what I want to write about."
It started with a conversation with my son, I told her. And my own warped little mind added a bit to it, wondered what it would become if I made the core characters a little more dysfunctional than the average family. If I added in a dead guy.
"Dead guy?" She waved it off; that was part of the story she hadn't gotten to yet. "Writers write about the things they know, don't they? Won't your family think this is about them?"
I shrugged. Hopefully my family will realize that they are no where as screwed up as the family in the story.
Little Miss Mary Sunshine pondered the rest of the manuscript on the table. Did I come here often? Could she read more if I was here another day?
Sure, why not.
"It's the process..." she started to say, as if she was trying to wrap her brain around an idea. "I want to be able to write, but I'm just not any good at getting past wanting to do it."
I totally get that. I want to be thin and buff, but I can't get much past the wanting of that, either.
She closed her notebook and shoved her pens into her purse. "I have to know about the dead guy, too," she said as she got up.
"He talks," I told her.
She left, and now I'm sitting here, my brain in neutral, trying to regroup enough to start editing again.
Yes, the dead guy talks. But he won't tell me how to get to that ending.
Damned selfish dead guy, if you ask me.