© Marta Stephens 2010 all rights reserved
It wasn’t so long ago that I could pick up a book and read it from cover to cover without ever fighting the urge to grab my red pencil. Far be it from me to have noticed the author’s excessive use of tags, or cringe at his or her POV glitches. I've always loved to read and as long as the plot kept my interest, I read it.
I always marveled at those with the ability to create the worlds that could transported me to another place and time; make me fall in love with the hero or fear for my life. Authors, I thought, were an elite group of people who lived charmed lives. I could see the writer lounging in a seaside bungalow, a drink in one hand, a pen in the other. There he’d gaze across the shoreline at the incoming surf while he methodically contemplated his next plot.
Well, I’ve been writing fiction since 2002. My plots emerge while I stand in line at the market. My character’s dialogue comes into focus while I clean out a cluttered closet and the scene of the crime takes shape while I scrub the soap scum from the shower. I don’t live anywhere near a shoreline and life is anything but charmed. It is, however, becoming increasingly interesting.
One of the questions I’m most frequently asked is about my writing time—when, where, and for how long. That usually depends on where I am in the process. However, there is something to be said for discipline and leading a balanced life. Discipline I have, but looking back to those early years, I realize how terribly obsessed I’d been with my writing and greedy with my time.
Of course I was there for family gatherings and outings, but the plot was always in the back of my mind and my character was always moments away for catching the killer (again, in my mind). In fact, it wasn’t uncommon for me to jot down a note about a possible twist in the middle of dinner or some other equally inappropriate moment.
Several years later, I realize that there’s no power on earth that can help me force the words onto a page (when they don’t wanna) and sometimes, ideas just need time to develop properly. Call it age or experience, quite possibly it’s a little of both, but today—this minute, I feel good about the writing. I’m more relaxed and certainly less stressed about it. In fact, I haven't written in two days because I need to work out a change in one of my chapters. Instead, I picked up a book and started to read.
I realize now how many little things in my recent life I’ve let slip away for the sake of my writing and know it’s time to get back to a balanced life.