Thursday, September 17, 2009

De-mythefying the Myth by Sharon Lurie

MOOD: God only knows!

*This blog is based, in part, upon actual events and people. Certain actions and characters have been dramatized and fictionalized, but are inspired by true events and real people. Certain other characters, events, and names used herein are entirely fictitious. Any similarity of those fictional characters or events to the name, attributes, or back-ground of any real person, living or dead, or to any actual events is coincidental and unintentional, so I better not get any phone calls from certain close friends, both nameless and clueless, who think I am somehow libeling them, when in reality they are too self-absorbed and self-obsessed and will think that anything and everything is about them, no matter what I write. All names have been changed to protect the innocent from harm and the guilty from embarrassment. *

I am a writer. I did not ask to be one. If I had it my way, I would have boring office job, working eight hours a day, 40 hours a week, squirreled away in a cubicle in blissful obscurity. However, God did not deem it so. If my life were put in book form, it would be a cross between Erma Bombeck and a Stephen King novel. As stressful as such a bizarre life is to the one living it, to outside observers, it is rip-roariously funny. Therefore, I decided it was high time I profit from this bevy of personal humiliations.

Now, there are some out there who would ask, “How stressful could a writer’s life be?” to which I reply, “excruciatingly so!” I am constantly called upon to offer humorous and/or inspiring anecdotes for every occasion, and let me tell you, it’s hard being inspired round the clock. Also, my grammar must be perfect all the time, too. I regularly am chastised for grammatical flaws and vocabularic (is that a word? Oh, if not, I’m sure one of you will let me know) faux pas, as if the spirit of my deceased grandmother has possessed everyone in my circle of influence.

However, there are other problems. You see, most writers get their ideas from real events and real people (or at least real inside MY mind). It’s (usually) not some otherworldly experience, such as watching the sunrise, being visited by angels, or some grandiose dream that, if I was honest, was merely the result of eating bad chili dogs the night before. No, most often, we writers merely report what we observe. Therein lies a problem. If I write honestly and straightforwardly, I will undoubtedly get an angry response from someone accusing me of writing about them and that they’re not pleased with the light in which I painted them. However, if I embellish or alter some actual event in any way, then I will get angry response from someone who witnessed said event, saying I’m not being true to life, am I not a good enough writer to let the truth stand on it’s own, blah, blah, BLAH! So, I will thus err on the side of caution and not be bound by strict neorealism, because sooner or later it will be YOUR identity I will be protecting!

“Sharon!” my dead aunt Roberta bellowed from beyond the grave, waking me out of a sound sleep (or, it could also have been the chili dogs), “how dare you write about me in such an unflattering manner!”

“What are you talking about, Aunt Roberta?” I answered, half asleep.

“Don’t play coy with me, young lady! In that story you wrote about the space ship looking for planets capable of supporting human life, and the slime covered alien monster that looked like a Cher impersonator and fed on human brains, I know you were referring to me!”

“Hmmm…well, let’s see. Are you a vain, narcissistic, self-serving, morally bankrupt, gluttonous extra-terrestrial with bad hair?”

“I most certainly am not!”

“Well, then I wasn’t referring to you, was I?”

Then there’s the whole process of writing. People who don’t write think it’s all very romantic, merely setting aside time on a certain day, putting on CDs of the ocean or dolphins, lighting candles that smell like assorted pastries, and the words just flow on to the computer like water from a faucet. I’d be lying if I said it never happened like that, but most of the time, it’s more like molasses running uphill in winter, and brilliant writing often comes at the price of one’s sanity. Here’s a diary of the typical writing process…

6:00 PM-sit down to write.

6:01 PM-Decide can write better if have something to eat.

6:02 PM-Find penicillin factory inside refrigerator and decide it needs disinfecting.

7:00 PM-Take bath in Clorox after cleaning refrigerator.

7:30 PM-Discover hair is now green after Clorox bath. Ah, but have gotten distracted from writing. Will sit at laptop and worry about hair later.

7:35 PM-Obsess about marriage prospects now that bare striking resemblance to The Joker.

7:45 PM-Stare blankly at laptop screen.

8:00 PM-Give cat tummy rub as he stares at me staring blankly at laptop screen.

8:15 PM-Decide will take break from writing and watch DVD for inspiration.

8:20 PM-Put “Bridget Jones’s Diary” on DVD to watch for umpteenth time.

9:15 PM-Loop scene in which enormously successful love god Mark Darcy tells metabolically challenged, morally ambiguous, and slightly scatter-brained Bridget that he likes her just as she is and cry like baby for the umpteenth time.

10:45 PM-Crap! Been at computer going on five hours and haven’t written anything besides “by Sharon Lurie.”

10:46 PM-Begin to obsess about publisher who will cut me into little pieces when I tell him at 8:00 AM that I haven’t finished the article.

11:00 PM-Make run to Wal-mart to see if they carry any over-the-counter Xanax so can stop obsessing and start writing.

11:30 PM-Still staring at laptop screen.

Midnight-Am banging head against laptop screen. Think am now delirious.

12:30 AM-Suddenly inspired and crank out Pulitzer-prize-winning article, thanks mostly to vision brought on by blunt-force trauma of head against laptop screen and herbal Xanax.

2:30 AM-Email article to publisher.

2:35 AM-Call Apple Care to tell them about shattered laptop screen and somehow convince them it’s because of a manufacturer’s defect covered under warranty.

3:00 AM-Pass out.

5:00 PM, two days later-Who am I and how did I get here?

And there you have it, folks. Not all fun and games and not a whole lot in the way of glamor. So why then, do you ask, do we writers do it? I can only speak for myself when I say that mostly, it’s because despite all the craziness, I like to make people laugh, I like to give people hope, and if recording all the nutty things that come out of my head enables someone to move forward, than I know that the green hair wasn’t for naught.

So, welcome to my blog. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go extract shards of lap-top screen from my forehead.

1 comment: