Sure, I get to sit here in my stocking feet with a mug of tea beside my computer and look outside where a sparrow is trying to head butt his way through our Hardyboard siding, but sometimes -- despite these perks -- this writing life can be a lonely business.
I don’t often mind the solitude as each day I am spending hours and hours with my characters who are as real to me as living, breathing human beings. But whenever they are not conforming to the plot I have mapped out and I am waiting for them to lead me down the path they would instead like to go, I am abruptly pulled out of my fictional world and tossed back into the real one.
This is when I become cross-eyed while staring and picking at the split ends of my hair. Anyone from the outside looking in might think that inhabiting a world full of fictional characters has finally fried my mind, but what they wouldn’t realize is that this is a very high-tech method recommended by Writer’s Digest (okay, that’s a lie) that helps me to refocus and calm my nerves.
Especially when I rock back and forth while humming the Barney theme song.
If this high-tech methodology doesn’t do the trick, I take a Yoga-worthy breath and roll my ankles in and out, out and in until the old injuries I sustained in cheerleading (yes, cheerleading; the truth had to come out someday, people) make a snap, crackle, popping sound. I keep hitting Refresh! Refresh! on the Internet tab although I have disconnected from it hours ago when I was feeling all disciplined and authoress-y and actually wanted to avoid distraction rather than inviting it in to stay awhile. Like a child trying to postpone bedtime, I will get up and pour myself a glass of water. Go to the bathroom. Lay down on the floor and flail my arms. Complain to the dog that I have leg ache and need a banana.
Exhausted by these efforts, I will stumble back to my laptop and check on my characters, trying to see if they have seen the error of their errant ways and are willing to negotiate a deal.
No such luck. The main character still glowers at me with her arms crossed and foot tapping like the cursor on the screen.
This is when I get up and walk over to my bookshelf. Take down some of the best novels I have ever read and pour over the passages, trying to figure out how these authors trained their characters to talk so mannerly, to sit in a corner with their hands in their laps rather than running and screaming through the manuscript like Thing One and Thing Two before tranquilizer guns became available.
But then I hear a tappity tapping on the glass. I return the book to the shelf and peer through the window. That sparrow is still there, still butting his head against the electric meter, against the Hardyboard siding, against the fascia sealing in the eaves of the house as if he can actually find a way in.
And you know what? With every smack of his head against the glass, against the siding, it seems to knock some more sense into it, and he learns to fly up higher, then a little higher still. He flies until he comes to a small crack in the structure of our home between the fascia and the siding, and he slips his way right on through.
Which I guess is pretty bad considering this is a new house, but as I sit here in a cross-eyed glaze while picking at the split ends of my hair, I have to hand it to that little fellow: You made it, Buddy; you found your way through the wall.
Encouraged, I return and look at my computer screen’s blinking cursor because I know that soon I will find my way, too.