Friday, January 01, 2010

Writing Journey: Writer Weirdness

Being that it's New Year's Day (and I'm out of town), I'm cheating by re-posting from my archives from when I literally had what, two readers? Below is literally my very first post, and since it happens to be writing-related, I thought it'd be a good fit for my Writing Journey series.

(As a side note, the scene I refer to the beginning was for Hannah's injury in Spires of Stone.)



Not long ago, I pulled one of my many reference books from my office bookshelf so I could get a few details for an upcoming scene I’m writing.

Holding the book in my hands, I immediately felt transported back to the time I first read it, and I had to smile. Suddenly I felt sentimental.

It was the Christmas holidays, visiting my in-laws, during the time I was still a hopeful writer who hadn’t yet been published. I remembered the manuscript I was working on and why I needed this particular book to help me with certain details—and I still remember what those details were. Snow fell; holiday cheer abounded; carols drifted through the house.

And here I was engrossed in
Body Trauma, where every chapter follows an organ system, explaining injuries and how they affect the human body—and even better, how those injuries can be used by writers in their work.

I know; you don’t have to tell me. I’m morbid.

It’s great to be reading along about blood and guts, then have the author insert something along the lines of, "Use this injury if you need your character’s future to be uncertain," or "This is a good one to use if a character needs to be ill, recover, and then relapse."

Okay, so I’m not just morbid; I’m weird.

I’m aware of that.

But sometimes I forget that others don’t share my bizarre curiosity.

You should have seen the faces of my brothers-in-law when they saw the book. "Light reading, huh?" they asked as they inched away from me.

"No, really, it’s so fascinating," I said as I stepped forward, eager to share gems I had just learned. "Did you know that if someone has a bad impact—say they fell from a cliff—and it’s so bad you can’t tell where their face is, you look for air bubbles?"

They sank into the couch, eyes wide with horror.

The reality is that I am weird.

I’m a writer. That makes me a little bit off the beaten path.

How many other people do you know who have conflicts appear in their imaginations in the middle of the night? Who else hears people talking in their heads (and no, they don’t need medication or a strait jacket). Who else finds joy in the discovery of new information that will help make their pretend world a little closer to reality?

And how many people do you know who are so obsessed punctuation rules that they cringe when they see a T-shirt with a comma splice?

So yes, I’m weird. And I celebrate that weirdness.

Weirdness is the quality that brings me the wonder of the written word, characters, story lines, creation, and so much more. It’s what brought me to the place of—finally—getting published.

And yes, in case you’re wondering, that first manuscript I read
Body Trauma for did end up published several years later, complete with injuries for three victims of a drunk-driving car accident.

That book is now known as
At the Water’s Edge.

A few months after reading
Body Trauma I brought my next bit of light reading while visiting family—Cause of Death. I had to chase people around the house so they’d pay attention to the diagrams of autopsies. "No really. Check this out! It’s totally cool!"

They’d block their eyes and run the other way, saying, "Man, are you kidding me?"

Sheesh. Some people just can’t appreciate a good reference book.

(Originally posted July 21, 2006)


Anonymous said...

Okay, I totally need the author names to those books because they sound AWESOME! I have several forensics and poison guides but that trauma one sounds just FABULOUS. (Hey, at least you're not alone in being morbid. ;)

Amanda said...

Wow, I totally agree that you are morbid and weird. I don't feel bad saying this to you as I also resemble these comments.

I'm not a writer, but I am very interested in understanding everything! In my heart, I'm a true researcher. Research is my real calling in life, this mom bit that I do is just gives me material for research :)

Jordan McCollum said...

I'm with you and L.T., Annette—sounds fascinating (and SO helpful!).

Susan said...

I don't need a book, I have a husband who used to be a professional firefighter. Little do most people know, firefighters aren't usually found fighting fire, they're usually scraping people up off the road at car accidents. He's my go-to guy when I need an injury in my latest WIP or anything having to do with body trauma. If he can't figure it out my sis-in-law is a surgeon. She'd probably love those books you have. Maybe I should get those for her.
Don't worry, you're in good company.

Don said...

I'm so glad I found a positive outlet for my weirdness.

BTW, your luck with has changed in 2010. Get ready for some cocoa!

Luisa Perkins said...

It's a good cheat! I loved this post the first time I read it.

Helena said...

What a cool resource!

kanishk said...

Research is my real calling in life, this mom bit that I do is just gives me material for research :)

Work from home India

Julie Wright said...

You're not weird . . . oh wait . . . yes you are :) But so am I. I would totally do the same thing


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