Do you ever start a project, be it a home improvement project, planning a trip, creating an artwork, or in my case writing a novel, and then something clicks and you completely change it. Not always drastically but what you do makes it 100% better and more interesting.
Today I was out driving in the rain. Traffic was light due to the MLK holiday. The giant dog was in the back seat but today she didn’t want to put her head out of the window. It was cold. I don’t blame her. Anyway I turned on the radio to the NPR station. 2022 MacArthur fellow Martha Gonzalez was on.
Normally I might not have listened, but I did. Not because I will ever be a MacArthur fellow, and not that I listen to her music. But I did listen, and I was inspired to go in directions that might stretch my writing skills, or imagination, or even humanity. She spoke of how music brings communities together. It made me think of communities and how common experiences and memories bring together and link ordinary people.
As I took a long way home driving over the old bridge I thought about friendship, and memories, and how we all remember the same people differently. We all remember our relationships with those people differently. Or how after not seeing someone for 40 years the feelings don’t change, and you wonder why you waited 40 years, except maybe out of some sort of fear or discomfort or embarrassment, or maybe because you were just busy and lost touch. I’m not thinking about my life, but the lives of my fiction characters.
Then I cracked the window a bit more, just in case the dog wanted to stick her nose out to the wind, and I thought about how the characters would relate to their grown children.
My kids are grown so I’m writing about people who also have grown kids. Novels can be about people who are over 30 years old, and not especially looking for ignorant young romance.
Sometimes you look out a window into the rain and think about making a crazy quilt, or who you want to bring sacks of lemons to this week, or when it will be dry enough to work in the garden, or finish that deck, or when you’ll back to the art museum, or if your old cat will make it through the year.
All the while I try not to be disappointed in myself. I’m extremely good on paper. Off paper too. I just have to convince myself that it doesn’t matter who notices, and I try to remind myself to notice others.
If you don’t notice others you’re going to miss out and miss the point on everything.
~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman