I sometimes wish I was more interesting. Like when I meet a non-writer who wants to know all kinds of things about my fascinating second job and the creative process, like where I get my ideas, or how long it takes me to write a book.
I squirm a little and shrug. Where do I get my ideas? Magic, maybe? Although lately I suspect they're left by moody gnomes. How long does it take me to write a book? Uh, too damn long, because I'll set down the wrong path a few times before I realize where I'm going. The gnomes don't leave maps. Stupid gnomes.
(Oh my gosh, I was totally kidding! Please keep leaving me ideas.)
These are disappointing answers from a writer who falls short of the Writer Ideal I'd always envisioned. Who wants to believe that the person writing their books is a self-flagellating artist with a mild addiction to caffeine and a day job? Is that the kind of person I want writing my books and telling me stories? Of course not. I want my writers to embody a fantasy. I want them to live in palaces heated by burning money. And when I ask them where their ideas come from, I want a concrete answer, damn it!
So, breaking news, I'm inventing a more glamorous writing persona. She is the new, improved! Natalie, and she is kicking ass and taking names. Maybe she goes by Nat, because it's kind of androgynous and she wants men to pick up her romance novels, too. Anyway, here, let's practice for the next picnic:
Where do you get your ideas? - I cultivate them in Petri dishes with samples of daily news, things I overhear, and life experiences. I'm fortunate to have an exciting life that provides a constant supply of ideas. Each time I sit down and stare at the blank computer screen, I have a million story lines to draw from. Seriously, a million, maybe more, all potentially award-winning and carefully indexed. It's just a matter of choosing one.
What's it like to be a writer? - It's sort of like being a spy: it's fast-paced, there's lots of sex, and every now and then I have to take a break to save the world.I have a fancy car and a feather boa, and my martini glasses have ridiculously thin stems. When I write--which, believe me, with a high-intensity life like mine isn't very often!--I write at a desk hand-constructed from the wreckage of sixteenth-century pirate ships. It smells faintly like the ocean and reminds me of the fragility of life.
How long does it take you to write a book? - Oh gosh, you mean when I focus? I don't know, it all happens so quickly! Let me tell you: writing those fluffy romance novels? Piece o' cake. You just follow the formula. There's a man and a woman, some conflict, and a happily ever after. I can bang one out over the weekend, then enjoy several months of James Bond-style living before anyone asks questions. Hey, your glass is empty--can I get you a refill? My treat--did I mention I'm rich?
So let's hear it: who would you be if you were living the writer's fantasy life?