Friday, August 21, 2009

The exciting life of a writer

I noticed this week that ABC is playing reruns of the first season of Castle, a show about a best-selling mystery writer who helps cops from the NYPD solve murders. I started watching it because I'm a fan of Firefly. If Captain Mal wanted to play a mystery writer, I'd go along for the ride. And then I really started enjoying the show...

But I digress.

As I washed the dishes last night, I thought about how little writing Richard Castle does on the show. Once every show, we see him in front of his computer for a few seconds. Once we saw his outline- very similar to the way cops organize their evidence. He'll discuss his aspects of the plot he's wrestling with. But for a show that claims to be about a best-selling writer, there's precious little writing.

I mean, come on! The man's a writer, let's see him write.

Then that (very tiny) light bulb in my head went off, and reminded me of what you've probably already realized.

A show about a writer writing would be the. most. boring. show.


Seriously. Watching grass grow would be more fascinating.

Let's say you're watching me write. I sit down in the Barnes and Noble Café, get my laptop up and running, and...

I write. (3 min)

Fiddle with my iTunes playlist.

I write. (5 min)

Wonder if anyone's commented on my most recent blog post. Check blog post.

I write. (3 min)

Make faces as I try to figure out just what to do with a character.

I write. (7 min)

Mumble dialog under my breath.

I write (30 sec.)

Re-check blog post.

I write. (9 min)

Watch people walk by.

I write. (5 min)

Think about blog post.

I write. (1 min)

Re-recheck blog post. Mentally slap self on wrist. Close internet browser.

I write....

Riveting, huh? The most interesting parts where the bits when I wasn't writing.

No wonder they have Castle help the cops.

Pondering the plot lines of Castle reminded me that writing really is hard work. It's not interesting to watch. It's not interesting to read about. Sometimes, it's not even interesting to do.

It's worth it. I'd be the first to admit it. But I understand why there won't ever be any form of entertainment that focuses on the act of writing.

Truth is, non-writing activities are far more interesting. Like writing blog posts. (Slaps self on wrist. Prepares to turn off internet browser after posting.)

So what about you? What distracts you from your not-always-entertaining-but-oh-so-worth-it writing?


Michelle said...

I love it! I've always felt the same way about Sex and the City. Carrie is always at lunch, shopping with the girls, bemoaning her latest relationship crisis. And she writes for maybe a minute in each episode.

My distractions include our blog and everyone else's that I read, facebook, and the dog and cat that can't stop interrupting me! I don't know how you write in a public place. I'd never get anything done at all if I did that.

Sarah said...

For me writing in a public place is far less distracting that writing at home! All I can do is sit at my table and write (though it's been harder now that B&N offers free WiFi).

At home? There's TV, there's cleaning, there's laundry, there's half a million things that I could be doing.

Blogs are a distraction for me as well. This job search has been one. The upcoming conferences have been a good kick in the can. I'd really like to have made significant progress by James River Writers.

Scott said...

Do you remember (please, please tell me you do!!!) "Murder, She Wrote". I absolutely loved that show, but Jessica spent more time solving crimes than writing. I also love Castle . . . and probably for the same reasons you do.

Writing is a solitary and virtually unexciting (well, not really because my characters get to do really neat things) occupation. Somebody on another blog suggested an American Idol style of show for writers . . . and everybody pretty much agreed it'd be boring!

As for distractions . . . they abound all over the place and I just do the best I can, though Project Runway did steal me away from my writing for an evening. : )


Sarah said...

Scott, just this morning I was thinking how Castle was like Murder, She Wrote! So funny.

Writing can be exciting, but the excitement happens within the writer's head. It would make for a crazy-boring spectator sport- or reality show.

I haven't watched Project Runway in ages! I always seem to be watching TV at the wrong time. Tim Gunn visited UVA here in Charlottesville last year, I think. I was so bummed when I found out about it the day after.

KM said...

This is really funny, because I do the same thing. I'll write for a few minutes, then open up the Internet to check my email or something...and then never get back to writing. I have to turn off my Internet sometimes. The only way I'll actually ever finish a scene is if I plot it first (on paper, as in with a pen or pencil the old-fashioned way) in so much detail that all I really have to do when I type is fill in the gaps. So I guess I don't really write on the computer; I write on paper and then edit on the computer.

Oh, but other distractions include TV on the Internet, browsing iTunes (a horrible habit that makes me spend a lot of money), online chatting, texting, and books. *sigh*

Michelle said...

Yes! I forgot to add online chatting.

Sarah said...

Hi KM! Thanks for dropping by.

It is so hard for me to outline that much, but I could see how it would work. The one thing that gets my head in the game is to write in my Bits and Pieces doc. before I start. It give me a chance to rattle on about what I'm getting ready to write. (I also paste parts of the story that don't really belong where I had them, but that I can't bear to delete. Great emotional crutch.)

I've learned I'm still going to fidget a bit when I write. I just try to keep it to a minimum. I'm not always successful.

Amy De Trempe said...

I really like Castle and had to chuckle. I never really paid attention to how much writing he does not do. What distracts me from writing? Blogging.

Sarah said...

Hi, Amy. Welcome!

It took me a few shows to notice how little Castle wrote. There's so much else going on, so it's not surprising. And I absolutely love his mother and daughter!

Lisa said...

Scott! Oh, yes, I remember "Murder, She Wrote," but I had actually forgotten that, yes, she was a writer on that show. The opening credits show her busily typing away, but it hardly ever happened during the episode.

There are some good movies out there about writers that delve into what it really means to be a writer (without getting too boring). I'm thinking of "Barton Fink," "Wonder Boys," and well, "The Shining."

As far as distractions go, moving across and ocean and a continent is a big one. Then comes my 2.5 year old son. And oh yeah, blogging. This is why I'm resisting Facebook with all my might.