My writers’ group just left and I’m freshly infused with unbridled enthusiasm. So typical! Double rounds of tea served with the healthiest type of brownie possible (that would include protein and fiber and minimal fat), followed by red pear and cheddar cheese, all accompanied our usual round robin of anecdotes and the reading of our newest works.
Several years ago, while trying to reconnect with a project that had been set aside, I decided that story props strategically placed near my computer would be helpful in the writing process. That summer, I came across an antique doll, all of 5″ tall, at an antiques fair, and thought she would make the perfect “Lydia” to sit atop my computer monitor. The $95 price tag was a deterrent and so I left the sellers’ tent without her. But I’ve never found a better replacement. I mentioned my search to a friend one day. Her eyes lit up, she scurried out to her side porch and came back beaming, presenting me with two mini Madame Alexander dolls that had been in a MacDonald’s Happy Meal promotion. She’d collected piles of them and was happy to share her loot! But neither Rain Girl nor Lady Bug Girl really fit my character and both felt too modern. Sometime later their doll-sister, Dorothy, joined them on my shelf and here they are. Every time I look at them I am reminded of Lydia and her tale, although they are not quite the right inspiration to perch on the monitor and speak for my character.
I was able to finish the manuscript without my Lydia doll. Antique images of shop keepers on Main Street, printed from the archives at the Nantucket Historical Association, copies of 1830s editions of the island’s newspaper, and my own memories of my first paid job in Nantucket’s historical house museums (my friend and I lemon-oiled the furniture, earning $2 an hour), got me through.
So now the manuscript is on to the next stage of its life: the search for an agent and publisher. To help it along, as much to buoy my belief that it will become more than my own private endeavor, umpteen-thousand words in a word file on the computer, as in the spirit of the Law of Attraction, I made a vision board for it. The good thing is that the process of collaging image-and-words really made me think about what it is I want next. And I have to tell you, leads to the people who can help bring this story into print are popping up in the most unexpected situations!
One of my friends makes a vision board for her characters and then records a CD of the music that they would listen to, so that she is completely immersed in their world while she writes. I think I’ll try that for my current project, a novel set in two cultures and continents.
But tell me, what do you do to keep the writer in you writing? I’d love to know. …