09 August 2010

Forty-Five Minutes Between Words

snackby Linda Yezak

Michael Snyder, author of My Name is Russell Fink and Return Policy, once told me it could take him up to forty-five minutes to get a sentence just right. I've seen a picture of Mike. He doesn't do what I do during those forty-five minutes of word-picking. He's too skinny.

I pace and eat. Eat and pace. Pace to the kitchen for something to eat, and eat my way back to the keyboard. Heaven help me.

Where on God's green earth did I get the idea that words flow magically from a brain drugged on peanuts and pork rinds? Pop the top on a soda and discover the perfect synonym. Bypass the apples for the chocolate pudding, and the next scene will fly from my fingers to the computer's hard drive in record time. Throw in some whipped cream and the scene will even come out perfect on the first try!

Uh-huh. Yeah, right.

Those Mondays I love so much have been filled with promises of how many pounds I'm gonna lose by Saturday. A good week is one in which I didn't gain at all. I haven't had a week where I actually lost weight since the second week in January when I'd lost all the water weight from the Christmas ham retained in my fat cells.

But I have to admit, my writing has improved, although the improvement has nothing to do with stuffing my face. It has to do with actually taking the time to get a sentence just right. And studying books about writing. And noticing how successful novelists do things. And having the world's best critique partner who pushes me to do better (cyber hugs to you, Kiddo).

Another friend of mine is wondering when the literary light bulb will illuminate her work, when she'll finally get it. Usually, I just try to be encouraging: "It'll come. Don't quit. Keep trying." Now that my light is shining a bit more, I realize I'll have to alter my advice to my friend: "It'll come. Don't quit. Keep trying. Stay out of the kitchen!"


  1. Sounds like my system. Although I've found that inserting ^^ at the trouble spots lets me move on and then I can find the perfect word later.

    Our house's living area is one big room--kind of hard to avoid the kitchen unless I sequester myself in my office, but then I can't pace. Maybe I should concentrate on watching the hummingbirds at the feeder outside my window.

    Terry's Place
    Romance with a Twist--of Mystery

  2. Terry, my house is the same. In fact, from my desk I have a clear view of the fridge and can sometimes hear the Hershey's Syrup call me through the door. Maybe when my writing has me frustrated, I should wear ear plugs. Or concentrate on the hummingbirds like you!

  3. Writing is definitely a test of patience. It has taken me almost a decade to finally realize my full potential and 'voice' after much studying and writing. We must all keep telling ourselves, "Keep at it!" :)

  4. Your kitchen sounds more interesting than mine, I'm clearly missing something on the writing front!