Monday, May 14, 2007

From Point A to Point B

Posted by Lisa

I used to drive to get somewhere. To the doctor's office. To the store. To the hockey rink. I drove to get from Point A to Point B. When did driving become my vehicle for plotting?

I've got an idea. You know what that's like. I know you know. You're a writer like me.

It feels like a craving, doesn't it? Like a word you can almost taste on the tip of your tongue. But I'm taking my time. I'm letting it simmer. I'm thinking about the ingredients to add. It needs a good base of setting. Montreal. Definitely. Spoonfuls of magic realism must be stirred in. Along with longing, there has to be longing.

So I sit behind the steering wheel, and I pay attention to traffic lights, to cars changing lanes around me. But I talk, out loud. I ask questions. Generally I find the answers. I can plot in my Ford Explorer. In my husband's Toyota Tacoma. The make, the model, the year doesn't matter. Maybe it's the alone time. It could be the sense of journey.

I find that same place of discovery in a hotel room, any hotel room. I've paced and plotted in the Holiday Inn in Concord, New Hampshire, in the Hilton in New York City. Sometimes I take a field trip, down the hall, to the ice machine. When I arrive back in my room, a character suddenly has a new dimension, a sub-plot is now afforded an "AHA" moment.

It's YA, my new idea. It's promise and shame and wonder and hope. It's me when I was twenty years old, living in Montreal. It's that teenager - was she homeless? - who stared at me one day near the Berri Bus Depot in the East end of Montreal.

I drive, I plot, I plan, I think. We are writers, dreamers, hard, hard workers. Obsessive compulsive too, of course.

How was my trip to the store, my husband asks.

"Fine," I answer.

It was excellent, really. From Point A to Point B. It might be a story. It might not.


Judy Merrill Larsen said...

Oh, yes, give me a mindless drive. For my first novel, I was "lucky" to have a 35 minute commute each way to my teaching job--the book worked it's way into the world for that whole year, so when summer came, I could write the first draft in 6 weeks. Revisions came abotu te hsame way. Also, I talk to myself in the grocery store aisles. I don't think non-writers know how much we're always writing--even when it doesn't look like it.

Lisa Marnell said...

I have yet to outright talk to myself in the grocery store - I think I mumble. I do find actually speaking out loud helps me formulate a series of events in my mind. Gives it life, in a way.


Tracy said...

Obsessive?? Talk to myself? Maybe I'm writing to quiet the "voices". I just wrote a blurb about my latest obsession.

Larramie said...

I enjoyed your admission, Lisa, but at least you seem to plot when you're alone. Have you ever done it while suppposedly interacting with someone? Ugh, the guilt... ;o)

Therese Fowler said...

Obsessive-compulsive? More of the first than the second, in my case, but turned down to simmer in any event. :)

Wait--maybe I AM O-C, but it manifests mainly in my head rather than my behaviors.

Okay, it's got me where I am today--I can live with that!

kristen spina said...

"It feels like a craving, doesn't it?" Yes, exactly like that, I think—what a wonderful snapshot, wonderful post. Thank you for this, Lisa.

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It can't really have success, I suppose like this.