I guess no one else found the flowers being delivered and arranged as fascinating as I did. My friend Robin was a bit perplexed at my fascination, too.
But that’s what writers do, isn’t it? Become fascinated by things. Obsessed. Ray Bradbury spoke on writing from his loves, how his loves had informed his writing. Carolyn See urged us to make a list of things we know about. In my classes, we do lists of twenty five things we love.
This morning, I’m on the between week–last week conference in Santa Barbara, next week conference in Dallas, this week finishing a novella for a Mother’s Day anthology. I was invited to participate in the collection, and in that instance, there’s a usually a fair strong idea of what the editors are looking for. We talked about possibilities and I chose the thread of an "older" mother and her newborn daughter. That’s as much direction as you get, usually–and I honestly do love coming up with themed novellas. It’s a great length for me, a pacing period I instinctively understand (unlike, say, a short story, which usually defeats me, though I can easily write articles or essays the same length with no trouble), and there’s just enough room to paint a lovely picture, play with something and then set it free.
Harkening back to the Hemingway discussion, I found myself noticing how I’m using my loves in this piece. It’s commercial and written to a specific idea (Mother’s Day), but that doesn’t mean it has to be cool or distant or shallow or not real in some way. I’m using my love of yoga, in that the heroine runs a yoga studio in Denver (which is called Yogariffic–I was so pleased with myself for coming up with that name!). She’s questioning her motives and examining place where commerce and yoga and sustainable living meet. And while I don’t think about commerce and yoga so much, I am often concerned about the meeting place between the comfortable easy American lifestyle to which most of us (er…me) have become accustomed, and the idea of sustainable lifestyles.
Without revealing too much and spoiling your pleasure in the eventual story, she’s an older mom, 38, who falls in love with a Welshman. There is an infant girl, and that’s where another of my loves came in–oh, it is so much fun to write about this mother getting to know her baby! That tininess. The pearl-like fingers and toes. The earthy noises babies make and the funny, surprising heft of their bodies.
And layered in are the mornings I walked on the beach, alone in the low gray mornings, with the waves and the seagulls.
Sometimes beginning writers are afraid to pour all their love into their stories. They want to be more sophisticated than that, or more "interesting". Just do it, pour it all in. Let it shine.