Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Off The Rails And Back On Again by Patricia Forsythe


Many years ago, when I first started writing, I had four small children and no such thing as a dedicated office space.  However, in my bedroom, I had a full wall of closets with mirrored doors, so I truly became a closet writer.  I put my computer, an Apple IIe, on a small desk inside the closet and sometimes used the walls as a bulletin board to post pictures of my current hero and heroine, usually ones I cut out of magazines.  Also, I wrote out lengthy backstories for these people and interviewed them as if I was a newbie reporter trying to nail down the breaking news story of the century.  When I needed to describe a facial expression, I would pull the closet door partway shut, lean around so I could see my face, and try to make the expression I wanted to recreate in words.  This technique was very helpful and my children laughed hysterically over my antics.  They learned, early on, that their mother wasn’t the norm.  This realization has probably saved them thousands of dollars in therapy fees.

Yesterday, while reading Cheryl Harper’s post about doing research by binge-watching television shows and creating Pinterest boards for her characters, I realized I no longer do the prep work on characters that I used to do, and I’m not sure how or why I ever went off the rails and got out of that habit.  Now, I tend to create characters, decide what they look like and what motivates them, and jump into writing.  It’s highly inefficient.  I have to keep going back in the story to see how I’ve described the characters and rediscover what makes them the way they are.  I’ve decided I need to step back in time -- although not back into that closet -- find photos and create backstories. 
Now, I have a space strictly for writing, a storage shed in my backyard that I had converted into an office.  I call it my Shoffice.  It has plenty of space for photos and write-ups of character interviews, although maybe I’ll make Pinterest boards instead.  I need to get back to what I was doing so long ago to get to know my characters.  After all, on Pinterest, I can always do research by looking for likenesses of my hero and heroine, inspirational sayings of my characters’ beliefs, recipes of things I’ll never cook, photos of kittens and puppies.  Oh, wait, I may be going off the rails again.

20 comments:

  1. I love your first office! I've never been organized enough to actually take time to know what I was doing. Hmmm...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! It was certainly handy when the kids were small. I could just shut the door and they would forget that Mom had actual drawing paper on that lifeboat-sized printer that they could pilfer.

      Delete
  2. I think you had a cozy little office space in the closet. I never realized how much writer's put into telling their stories. I read Cheryl's post yesterday too, and was trying to suggest thinking about a favorite movie that had great characters, and then using some of their favored characteristics to create your own cast of characters to start on a new book idea. I'm not sure if I, or if the idea made sense though. Anyway, the only drawback to Pinterest is that it's highly addictive, which it sounds like you already know. Ask Cerella Sechrist. We've chuckled over that. ( : Nice picture by the way.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's so true about Pinterest, a delicious time suck. Sigh.

      Delete
  3. I enjoy discovering the writing habits of other authors. It was fun reading your post and Cheryl's in succession. Thanks for sharing, Patricia!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I like finding out how other writers work, too. Everyone's is different.

      Delete
    2. I meant to say 'everyone's process is different'.

      Delete
  4. Patti, I'm stuck back on you writing anywhere with 4 small children. I didn't start writing until my youngest and her teen friends were consuming Harlequin stories and said I needed to write one. And however you're doing characters now is spot on. They're real and compelling, so keep it up.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Roz. I'm so glad your daughter and her friends set you on the right path.

      Delete
  5. I enjoy reading about where writers write too. Is your Shoffice heated? I used to write in my bedroom, but when I moved I made sure I had a house with an office for me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. An office is critical for a writer. I'm glad you've got one now. Yes, my Shoffice has heat and air conditioning -- a real necessity in southern Arizona.

      Delete
  6. What a cute picture,Patricia! A few months ago, I moved from the dining room table into my own room and I love it. I can stare out the window for an hour or more and no one thinks I'm crazy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I stare out the window, too. Sometimes, I even get good ideas doing that.

      Delete
  7. I like that photo of you, too. I started writing when two of the kids were still home and I worked in a corner of the breakfast room (which isn't heated) then a corner of the dining room Then our second son moved out I took over the boys' bedroom and having a place that was mine really boosted my production. Like Roz, I can't believe you could focus with four little kids around. I love the "recipes of things I'll never cook." I have bizillions of those, and I don't even like to cook. But they always look so appealing. Fun post, Patricia!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Muriel. Glad you got a space to work. I used to like to cook, but raising three boys cured me of that. They never cared about the taste so much as the volume of food being offered.

      Delete
  8. I love your first office too. Mine is currently a "nook" in our house but it takes a full size desk and I have wall space to hang up my millions of post its.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have a theory that post-it notes breed. It's good to have a place to corral them.

      Delete
  9. When I was looking for a new apartment, I liked one that had a large storage space. That became my office. It contains everything I need for writing, storage and music, and while other people might find it claustrophobic, I love it. You look quite comfortable in your closet where everything is within easy reach.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So glad you've got a cozy writing space. I hope it helps you write many more books.

      Delete
  10. Recipes of things I’ll never cook...that is so me! I like to write in Scrivener so I can have all my character stuff right at my fingertips, including a photo that I've scoured the Internet for. Love this post and it reminded me I needed to be working on my new characters NOW.

    ReplyDelete