Busted!

Oh yeah, I got busted all right!

So what happened?

Quite simply, I felt like the kid who got caught with her hand in the cookie jar during a conversation with my daughter earlier this week.

Mel: Charlotte ate two meals yesterday

Me: Oh yeah

Mel: You’re not listening, are you?

Me: Yes, you said, ‘Charlotte ate two meals yesterday.’

(There was not the usual enthusiasm on my part.My granddaughter hasn’t shown a lot of interest in solids even now at nearly 10 months so, it’s kind of a big deal when she does eat.)

Mel: But you weren’t really listening. I could tell you were thinking about something else.

Me: (rather vaguely )I might have been.

Mel: *laughs* What were you thinking about? (She’s persistent if nothing else.)

Me: Who me? I might have been thinking about the story I’m working on.

So I got busted! I was definitely not engaged in our converstion. Usually I’m filled with enthusiasm when it comes to anything my granddaughter does.

Guess I’m not as good at covering up as I thought.

I’m not ashamed to admit that my mind wanders.

Just so you know, I don’t spend all my waking hours wrapped up tight in a reverie that I can’t tear myself away from. I can focus just as well as the next person. I can focus so well when I’m in the middle of writing a particular scene I lose all track of time.

Just don’t talk to me when I’m in the middle of make-believe.

As a writer, I spend a lot of time playing in the world of make-believe. I like to get to know my characters, feel their joys and their pain, find out what makes them tick. Hear their voice. We all did it as kids, we play-acted, made up stories, had tea parties with our teddy bears and dolls. We pretended to be our favourite action hero, the good guy who always prevailed. I mean, that’s what kids do don’t they? Is there anything more natural?

You’ll be glad to hear I don’t sit around with dolls and teddy bears these days (although something tell me I may again when Miss Charlotte gets a bit older) but that doesn’t mean I still don’t like to play make-believe. I’m a writer. I create worlds filled with make-believe.

But not all of my pretending is done on paper. A lot of my pretending takes place in my mind. You see that far away, deer-in-the-headlights look I sometimes wear, and that far away vague sound to my voice while on the phone, is for a reason.

I sometimes wonder if I don’t spend more time thinking about the characters I’m creating as I do writing about them. I’ve got to make them real. Make their words sound right. I’ve got to think about what he said and what she said, in my mind many times before I’m truly convinced. I have to step into my characters skin, feel their emotions, and yes, even pretend to be them.

But, don’t worry. I’m completely harmless. It just means that if I’m not hanging on your every word there may be a very good reason.

Here’s a question for the writers out there: Have you ever got busted for not paying attention while thinking about your character’s lives instead? Do you spend time playing games of make-believe with your characters or do you do all your pretending on the page?

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36 Comments

  1. janice

     /  February 11, 2011

    well I’m not a writer… ( well I do write songs) but, I definitely can relate to this! My girls are always asking me “did you hear what I just said? Unfortunately I don’t have that good of an “excuse”!! C: Love reading your posts Laura!

    Reply
    • Thanks for dropping in Janice. It’s nice to stay in touch. Hey now, you write song? So what? You were keeping that little tidbit from the rest of us at the shop? tsk!task!

      Glad you enjoy my ramblings!

      Reply
  2. duke1959

     /  February 11, 2011

    There is nothing wrong with stuffed animals of any kind.

    Reply
    • You’re right again, Duke. There’s nothing wrong with stuffed animals, however, if I started carrying one with me at all times I would be confirming what many of my friends have suspected all along. LOL! I’m still a big kid at heart!

      Reply
  3. I’m often found in a state of wandering mind. I try to pay attention, but …

    Reply
    • I know Tricia, and we love you because of it..LOL! Being present, and in the moment, is sometimes difficult for a writer, and so we shall all forgive you and ourselves when our minds wander.

      Reply
  4. Lately I spend more time thinking than I do editing. I often don’t have time to sit down and write, so I delve into my mind. :)

    My little one refused solids for the first 6 weeks after I introduced them at 6 months. He’s almost 9 months and with a large appetite. We got him eating with carrots (he hated the cereals), but I was exhausted, nursing him aorund the clock because he was hungry all the time. I hope things settle out with Charlotte quickly.

    Reply
    • I’m not sure how you find time to write at all, Jennifer. My daughter is also a writer and she’s finding it most challenging with one, and now you have three.

      Miss Charlotte is doing a bit better these days. I know 6 months is supposed to be the time to start introducing solids but I wonder if that isn’t still a bit early for some babies.

      Reply
  5. I’ve been guilty of that a time or two (or a hundred).

    Neither of my children started solids at the “usual” time. My daughter refused all solids until 11 months and went right to soft finger foods. My son did the same, but at 8-9 months. I worried a little with my daughter, but quickly learned that they were just going at their own pace. As they were both nursed, our ped assured us they were getting all they needed…and I can’t say I’m sad I didn’t have to make babyfood.

    Reply
    • You are brave to own up to it, Sonia. LOL! I say we’re all in this together.

      My daughter will be glad to hear these things. As a first time Mom we often think that everything has to unfold the way all the books would have us believe. I’m in total agreement on the nursing side of things. I think they do get what they need from breast milk.

      Reply
  6. Am I the only freak type of writer whose characters seem real to her? I don’t have to think about them much–when I’m ready to start writing, a person is just THERE. It’s more like I’m taking dictation, trying desperately to keep up while they say, “hey, this is what happened to me. This is my story.”

    That may be why I’ve found writing in the first person to be so effective for me. And, because I don’t seem to know where the story is going, the ending always surprises me. I just finished writing a mystery where I had no clue whodunit. Interesting experience!

    Interesting post!

    Reply
    • Oh my character seem real, Hollie. But I like to have them in my head as I go along, thinking about their story, getting the dialogue just so. Nope, I have my doubts that you are a freak. LOL!

      I know what you mean about the person being there. When I wrote my book, the character of Pru was just there one day and I often said it felt as though the story was there and I simple wrote it down. This doesn’t often happen to me.

      We all have different ways of writing. It makes for interesting conversation.

      Reply
  7. (You and DD Shari have a mental connection today… she’s just posted about all her thinking-not-writing. LOL)

    I call it percolating ideas. Sometimes things just have to percolate (or steep, if you’re more of a tea person) until they’ve reached the right strength, and have the flavour that I’m seeking. I spend a lot of time staring out windows to the woods beyond our house. It looks like ‘daydreaming’, which non-writers would label as wasting time, but writers understand. Sometimes it’s the most productive part of my writing time.

    Reply
  8. Gwen

     /  February 11, 2011

    My mind wanders…often. I drift off to fiction land many times a day. :) I don’t mean to be rude. it just happens. :)

    Reply
    • Hi Gwen. Welcome to my blog and for leaving a comment. It’s nice to find out who’s is reading. :) Oh yes, the drift is kind of fun though, isn’t it?

      Reply
  9. This happens to me all the time. You’d think he’d know by now that if I don’t response to my name I’m more than likely in la-la land??? LOL. Serves him right.

    I think way too much about my characters. I think too much about what I’m going to blog about tomorrow. I think too much about whether I’ll find a great ending to my WIP. Actually, I think too much period. But even tho I would love to sit down and read all of Eckhart Tolle’s books over again, I think I should write. See? I think too much.

    Reply
    • Oh yes.The part that gets me is when you realize they’ve been speaking to you for some time and you’re not quite sure what they said..LOL!

      I’ve been told I think too much, but it was told to me by a man. :)

      Reply
  10. Angela Wilson

     /  February 11, 2011

    My mind always wanders. I think I have attention deficit disorder. I really have to work harder at listening. Not just hearing, but listening.

    Reply
    • Alas that could have a bit to do with our age, don’t you think? LOL

      There are just too many places for the mind to wander. I love that. ;)

      Reply
  11. I enjoyed your post. You made the subject fun.

    I can be so focused on my thoughts that I don’t hear another person speaking to me. I spend time, as you described, preoccupied inside my imaginative processes. This aspect of creating, for me, was not peculiar only to writing, but followed me into the workplace. My co-workers often had to speak to me two or three times before penetrating my mind’s concentration on a project. Duh. Hello… Blessings to you, Laura…

    Reply
    • Glad you enjoyed my silliness, Carol Ann. Although I’ve never admitted it, I sometimes find myself a bit irritable if someone on the outside is trying to talk to me while I’m off galavanting in my brain, usually it’s my husband, and I try not to let him see my annoyance. I so hate being interrupted! LOL~

      Reply
  12. Only every day of my academic life. :) Now, I get “But mom, I told you!” Although, I think it is a devious trick to convince me I said yes, when they never asked. :)

    Reply
    • Yes, I suppose it wouldn’t take kids long to figure something like that out. :) They are so quick to pick those things up.

      Reply
  13. My mind must work differently – doesn’t drift too much. If I’m in the middle of something, might not hear what someone says at first, but that’s about it. I’m pretty good at juggling, & reasonably attentive, I suppose. And I have no clue about babies & solid foods. With my kids, there were 2 jobs that I never got near – one was feeding, the other you’ll have to guess at.

    Reply
    • Hi Dave, Don’t be offended by this, but I’m pretty sure that men do not procees things the same way woman do.Our brains are just wired differently.

      I hear you on the solids and the diaper changes. My husband and you would get along fine, although I was just starting to get him trained by the time our son was born and then we stopped. Three seemed like plenty.

      Glad to have you drop in. You must be busy with your new book coming out, haven’t seen you around much.

      Reply
  14. I don’t have much experience in the writing anecdotes, yes with feeding babies since we had four … and my mind wanders any ole time it pleases. haha But the one thing I can share is that while I was in the process of writing my first – and only so far – novel during NaNoWriMo month (at least the beginnings of a novel), I started to talk to my husband about something and then suddenly stopped, thought a moment and said, “oh, wait! that’s in my story, not here!” Sure seemed real to me at the time.

    Reply
    • Lynn, to have completed your goal during NaNoWriMo is a great accomplishment!

      You’re “oh, wait! that’s in my story, not here!” line made me giggle. Great story! LOL

      Reply
  15. Well, not so much thinking about characters but…yeah, all the time, thinking about plants, or book reviews, or interviews, or…well you know. Hubby comes in the office sometimes and finds me staring off into space. ‘I thought you were working’, he’ll say. “I AM working…I’m thinking!” I’ll reply. He is used to me now, fortunately.

    Reply
    • Jodi,you’re a very busy lady and I’m sure your mind is often on your work. I so get the staring off into space. Thinking time is important for me, especially if I’m working with a character I like. It’s kind of fun spending time with them. ;)

      Reply
  16. “Just don’t talk to me when I’m in the middle of make believe.” Love that line, Laura. Think it’s my new favorite saying – hope you don’t mind that I posted it on my wall:) You are such a good blogger!

    Reply
    • Glad you liked that line, Jan. Hey, to think that something I said inspired anyone is a bit cool. Not sure about the “good” blogger bit. Some days I wonder what the heck I’m doing.

      Reply
  17. Loved this post. I feel a kindred spirit. I’ve tried to explain to my husband that this is legitimate behavior for a writer—but he’s an engineer, so it’s almost impossible for him to understand how I can wander around not noticing important things in my physical environment (like burning the dinner) because I need to be in my inner cave working stuff out. But at least he’s used to it now.

    Reply
    • So glad you enjoyed the post and welcome to my blog!

      My son loves to tease me about how much he missed my burned meals since he’s moved out. (Sorry kid, but I had things on my min)d. My husband knows better than to complain.

      Reply
  18. I have a friend who can always call me out. I don’t even attempt to do anything else while talking on the phone with her because even if I try to fake enthusiasm, she always knows!

    Reply
    • Yeah, the phone is bad when it comes to mind wandering. I’ve gotten called out for trying to finish a tv show while talking to my daughter while talking on the phone. But in my defense I watch very little television but those show I do watch I like to see the ending..:)

      Reply

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