It’s the day after Christmas, and if you’re anything like me, you’re probably exhausted and have a jolly hangover. So let’s just hang out and swap stories.
Orly and I were chatting in an early email over coffee the other day about yet another way that we writers are seen as a different species by the rest of the population: Writing in Public.
You’ll find our kind mostly in coffee shops. We’re easy to spot. We’re the ones either hunched over, squinting at a laptop screen, or staring with an unfocused gaze into space. That’s the socially acceptable stuff. But then there’s the other stuff – you know, the behavior that makes us stand out, even though we’re usually oblivious to that fact.
Twitches – I was writing in the library the other day. My protagonist was thinking, when someone came up and laid a hand on her shoulder. You know that twisting, duck-out-from-under move? How do you write it without doing it, over and over, while you’re writing? I’m sure I looked like I was having involuntary nerve spasms.
Faces – Have you ever been writing an expression, say, an irritated mother butthole-lip-purse – then realize you’re staring at another person? And that they’re looking back with that, are-you-looking-at-me-and-what-the-heck-did-I-do-to-you look? Yeah, of course you laugh. And the other person gets uncomfortable enough to leave, because you’re obviously unbalanced.
Laughing – sometimes you’re just so clever, so funny, that you can’t hold it in. I’ve done it too, along with an ‘I’m so awesome’ seat dance that I’m sure is entertaining to others.
Choreography – your hero is in the fight of his life – hand-to-hand combat with the bad guy. You can’t write that without a little chair-choreography, right? But can you do it without looking like you’re grappling with an imaginary friend? And if you’re in your normal author uniform, you could be mistaken for a schizophrenic homeless person and be asked to leave.
Staring – Even if you’re managing to keep everything in your head, you’re going to be looking somewhere while you do it, right? If a person happens to be in the line of your unfocused gaze, they’re going to get uncomfortable by the second or third minute. Promise.
We also meet our own kind there, like zebras at a watering hole. There is safety in numbers.
But we also tend to feel more comfortable and let down our guards. My crit group met for years at a B&N Starbucks. We’ve got great stories of inappropriate behavior.
Sex – today’s society has come a long way, but discussing unusual body positions and demonstrating them is still not seen as appropriate. Trust me on this.
Murder – discussing how to kill someone and dispose of the body without getting caught – let’s just say getting asked to leave isn’t the worst than can happen to you.
Anarchy and mayhem – I’m surprised I’m not yet on no-fly lists.
Awkward Silences – you know how when you’re talking in a crowded room, and there’s a sudden lull? You don’t want to be discussing deer antlers, and how the velvety outside and bonelike inside reminds you of . . . well, just take my word for it. You don’t want that to happen.
Okay, your turn. We want to hear your funny stories public writing stories in the comments! We know you have them!
Hey, if I can tell my ‘deer antler’ story . . .
She sold her Sweet on a Cowboy series, romances set in the world of professional bull riding, to Grand Central. The Sweet Spot (May 2013), Nothing Sweeter (Jan 2014) and Sweet on You (August 2014). The Sweet Spot won the 2014 Romance Writers of America® RITA® award in the Best First Book category.
Her ‘biker-chick’ novel, Her Road Home, sold to Harlequin’s Superomance line (August, 2013) and has expanded to three more stories set in the same small town. The Reasons to Stay released August, 2014.
In 2014, Laura realized a lifelong dream of becoming a Texan and is currently working on her accent. She gave up the corporate CFO gig to write full time. She’s a wife, grandmother, and motorcycle chick in the remaining waking hours.