Friday, June 10, 2011

Creatus Interruptus

When I'm in the zone, my fingers can't keep up. I'm watching the movie in my head, fascinated by what my characters will do next (and they always surprise me.) That's when it happens - I hear the phone ring or realize that I have to pack for a weekend at the shore. Or my publisher calls, needing a reformat for a print version.

Turning off that interior movie is like closing a really, really good book, just as the two main characters are about to kiss, or just as you are about to find out the name of the murderer. It is a serious bummer.

Somehow the book gets written, even in the middle of all the chaos. It makes me wonder how writers used to do it in the years before computers, or typewriters even.

Look at Jane Austen. She created beautiful novels that showcased romance in the most real world terms, thus making the romance in them all the more exciting and romantic. Yet apparently she hid her work under a piece of blotting paper, should anyone enter the room.

She must have felt annoyed to be interrupted in scenes such as the one between Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy, when they finally declare their feelings for each other. To compound that, she was scratching her chapters out with a feather pen - on paper.

Which brings me to another point. I'm able to back up my work with the click of a mouse. What if a helpful maid came along and tidied away Jane's writing for the day? What if that maid tossed an entire chapter on the fire? We all know what if feels like to lose a day's work due to a glitch, but it's usually retrievable. For Jane, that just wasn't so.

And I'm certain that I can deal with my interruptions much faster than Miss Austen could. I can answer my publisher's questions and get off the phone, back to writing. Jane, on the other hand, would have had to get out her blotting paper, cover the scene that she was working on (trying not to forget characterization, action, and continuity) and go and have a sit down tea with her visitors. She would have to be pleasant and engaged, trying not to think of her work in progress in the other room, and whether the maid would find it and pitch it onto the hearth.

I can relate to Jane. While I was writing this column, I also made tea for my husband, packed a lunch, cooked breakfast, answered the phone, had two conversations, and sent off a PDF file to be reformatted, again, for print. And yet, here I am - at the end of the column. I did it. Miss Austen did too.

Alison DeLuca is the author of The Night Watchman Express, a YA steampunk novel.

4 comments:

Natasha Larry said...

I just had time to read this and can totally relate. You are so awesome. Thank you for blogging with me =)

Lyn Midnight said...

This was lovely, Alison! :)

This actually tells me one thing: I have no life because I rarely get interrupted, lol. Though, to be fair, when I write I go to a place where no interruptions would occur.

By the way, is it weird that I've never read pride and Prejudice? I suppose it is. It's my mother's favorite book but I never got to it because of my love for speculative fiction and thrillers. *sigh*

Thanks for writing this despite the interruptions. You're a rockstar for that. :)

Alison said...

Thanks so much, Lyn And I love being on this blog, Natasha. I get all excited when it's time to write a new column for Paranormal Wire (despite the interruptions!)

Chaz Wood said...

Great article. I loved the title. I can relate to it, though in some ways I'm the complete opposite - as things are so very quiet out at mine, quite often when I find myself on a roll, I'll deliberately break off and do something else, completely different, for 5-10 minutes. Play a blast of music, pick up a guitar, make coffee - and if the idea, or the thread is a good one, then I'll return to it with renewed vigour and excitement, confident that it's not just a momentary 'flash in the pan'.