Writers lean toward the eccentric, perhaps a byproduct of spending more time in our virtual worlds than with living, breathing human beings. I myself have several rituals to put me in the mood (for writing, that is.) First, I buy myself a venti-sugar-free-caramel-no-whip-soymilk-decaf-latte. It has to be this drink exactly. Venti because I need a big one. Sugar-free and no-whip because I’m always watching calories (usually watching as I devour them.) Soymilk because no cows should suffer just because I need my fix. And decaf because I am irritable by nature and caffeine just makes me that much more hostile.
With beverage ready, I clear away the debris littering my desk. School papers from my above-average children, a reminder from Honda that it’s been two years since my last oil change, and copious notes to myself with Pulitzer-Prize-quality story ideas that I didn’t want to forget, which now make little sense to me at all. One simply reads, “Narcoleptic mattress salesman.” Not sure where I was headed with that.
Next, I gather my trinkets. A Jane Austin action figure lounges next to my computer screen, staring at me with benign indifference in much the same way she was once perused by Mr. Darcy. The irony is lost on her. Probably because she’s plastic. At her feet lies a metal disk bearing the likeness of Poseidon, an ancient coin from the coffers of an Atlantis nobleman. (Okay, so it’s from the Atlantis casino in the Bahamas. Close enough.) My bulletin board is covered with inspirational items: quips from successful writers, photos of a recent trip to Scotland, magazine pictures of a boat one of my characters might have sailed, and another of Gerard Butler because… well, just because. I have printed emails announcing my finalist status in a few writing contests to assure myself I’m on the right track, and another of the meanest, harshest feedback I ever received, to remind me that nothing written is unanimously loved by all of the readers all of the time.
In this tiny corner of my house, I begin to write. The beige walls of my guest room/office fall away, the drone of the washing machine fades, and my characters begin to speak. Sometimes slow and soft, sometimes shouting and animated. But they always have something to say. I like it here. They like it here. It’s a reunion of sorts, and like a typical family, sometimes they annoy me. Sometimes they make me cry. But always, I am happy that they’ve come home to visit.
See, I told you. Writers are a little eccentric.