Posted by: Kathleen Mix | May 14, 2015

When Life Intrudes

Life has a horrible habit of intruding on my time to write.

A three- to four-hundred page book requires a large investment of time. If I can sit down every day and write a few thousand words during each session, then pages accumulate quickly. But some days are stacked with little emergencies that won’t wait for my character to fight her way out of her latest predicament.

I can’t ignore a leaky pipe in an upstairs wall that’s causing the collapse of the ceiling below. Or my dog getting sick on the new carpeting. Or my car registration somehow unpaid and about to expire. Or a neighbor’s horse marauding through my garden.

Some mega-bestselling, big-name writers can lock the door to their office and leave the frustrating interruptions of life to an assistant, housekeeper, au pair, or family member. The rest of us must leave our desk when the washing machine overflows.

I’m not complaining. Sometimes a conflict in my life can spark an idea for a conflict one of my characters could deal with too. Fictional characters can’t live charmed lives or readers will scoff and mumble, “This isn’t a real person. Real people are people like me, somebody whose car breaks down, and their kids get sick, and their mother-in-law drops in when least expected.”

A good book makes the protagonist face a big problem. A rich story makes every character, major or minor, seem real. Life’s little problems can be frustrating, but they are the events and circumstances that keep a writer’s pantry stocked with the ingredients necessary to formulate a book containing twists and turns and subplots that readers can relate to.

So, I have to think positive. Somewhere, somehow, in some story I’ve yet to write, I’ll appreciate the woodpecker intent on tap-tap-tapping until he makes Swiss cheese out of the beams and destroys my porch.

 

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Responses

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