July 14th, 2008

Grace & baby by beyondrecovery

Hi, I'm a writer of some sort

Today, during my babysitter's hours, I took my ancient laptop to a coffee shop and worked on a novel, just like a stereotypical writer. (Except I drank tea, not coffee.)

A friendly gray-haired man with a notebook, at a table near mine, remarked that I must have my own business. I said, nah, just trying to be a writer.

He asked, like everyone does, "Oh, what do you write?"

You'd think I'd have a set answer for this by now. I always stall and hedge, as if I don't actually know what I write. I eventually made it clear that I write novels, of many genres, though the one coming out soon is a ghost story.

He wanted to know what it was called. I told him, and said he'd look it up, and suggested his wife would like it too. Cool. I managed to self-promote despite myself.

Then two cops sat down at a table near both of ours, and the guy said to them, "Hey, she wrote a book called The Ghost Downstairs. Bet you guys investigate a lot of those."

They grinned. "Sure, or at least other things that go bump in the night."

I asked them if it completely bugged them when they read books or saw movies in which police procedure was all wrong--because goodness knows I don't know how to get it right.

One said, "Mostly we just wish we could really do it like that!"

The other said, "It bugs my wife more than it bugs me." Then he added, "Anyway, any form of entertainment, books or movies or what have you, require a total and willing suspension of disbelief."

So true. I feel better for not spending too much time fact-checking for my novels.

This touches upon what I mentioned in a comment to dirae the other week. Nearly all readers have two coexisting desires in mind when they read fiction (or even nonfiction): 1) the desire to know the true facts regarding whatever the subject matter is, and 2) the desire to read a great story, even if it fudges the facts. But for most people, one of the sides outweighs the other. Responsible scholars are devotees of type 1. Fiction writers, or at least definitely me, are of type 2. I see a cool article about some historical or scientific discovery, and I think, "Hmm, interesting. But how could I change and embellish it and make it more interesting for a story?" It's the escapist in me, I suppose.

Unrelated photo posting:

I like how this photo of Zach turned out, from last night. If you look closely, you can see my reflection in the window, taking the picture. (He likes to watch the streetlights come on, an activity that becomes more and more possible the farther we get from the summer solstice.)