WIP: More of the Glamorous Writing Life . . .

di working.jpg
. . . or how I spent my Saturday night. I can’t complain. I’d already been to a baby shower and a Kentucky Derby party (at which I won $50!) by the time this charming pic was taken by my photographer in residence. I am half in my jammies. The dog blanket is a mess. I’m on my second bottle of water. I’m listening to the beautiful soundtrack from Les Choristes. And having a good time! Truly. I’m going through the messy draft of my Work-in-Progress, working on the order of scenes (particularly looking at the best places to insert backstory), putting the dates of every scene into a calendar for ’06 (the year the story takes place), adding to my never-ending list of items needing further research, figuring out how old each character is in all the backstory pieces, etc. The zillion pieces of paper around me have the following headings: Research; Backtrack (this list is still very long, as I keep discovering ideas I want to plant earlier in the story, which is why I’ve never been one of those writers who can polish as she goes); What’s Missing?; Revelations; Dates (of birth, death and significant events); Slang (of the geographic area, of teens); and finally, a separate sheet for each character so I keep his or her looks, interests, and deepest, darkest feelings straight. Have I already told you I snitch pictures from Match.com for my characters? That seems slightly . . . I don’t know. . . creepy? Unethical? I hope not. It’s a great way to get Real Faces as opposed to those I used to cut out of magazines. Reading people’s Match.com profiles also helps me learn what, say, a thirty-year-old guy in a NC beach community might do for fun, or what kind of job a forty-year-old woman in the same community might have. John found it a bit worrisome that I was still checking out people on Match.com (where he and I met), until he realized what I was doing. I also snitch pictures of my characters’ houses from Realtors.com. Now you know all my dirty little writing secrets!


  1. Ashley on May 6, 2007 at 10:58 pm

    lol 😛 At least I’m not the only one. During the school year when things are just too busy I don’t usually have a lot of time to write… I mean, my days of second year Respiratory Therapy were spent at school (from 5 am to 10 pm) then homework til 1 or 2 am, and getting up at 4 am to do it all again. But one thing that kept my and my group of friends sane during this time was reading the newspaper (both city and school) especially the real estate section on Thursdays. But although I don’t frequent Match.com for characters, i will admit i have found a few through teen magazines and yearbooks- and certain forum websites.
    For now though, back to studying- my wards rotation starts at 7 am tomorrow for 12 hour days (should be interesting if i have to use my cane 😎 )

  2. Margo on May 7, 2007 at 8:49 am

    LOL Diane!…ah, the great life of being home working in one’s jammies…I do the same thing! You should see me on Fri & Sat nites at 11 pm with paint brushes in hand wearing my most comfy p.j.’s. and standing at my easel. I actually think I do my best work in this attire. Truth be known, I tend to get ‘comfy’ like this early in the evening all week long. I notice your comfy slippers…the difference with me is that I’m ALWAYS barefoot…including winter time. By the look of your face and environment, I’m quessing this is your favorite time of your book writing, when it starts coming down to the end and your putting all the finishing touches together…you look totally happy and at peace and I think this is my favorite pic of you!

  3. Diane Chamberlain on May 7, 2007 at 10:15 am

    ashley, how do you manage that schedule?? especially if you have to use a cane to help you walk? (i think carrie (?), the head of the ER on the tv show of the same name, represented those of us who need walking aides very well! i don’t use a cane, but i have a very pronounced limp, and when i need to “do” the mall or a museum or home depot, i use my blue rascal scooter).
    i LOVE that you read newspapers. on line or on paper? i worry that newspapers are eventually going to go away altogether, and i look forward to devouring the paper every morning before i start to write. good luck with your wards rotation!

  4. Diane Chamberlain on May 7, 2007 at 10:18 am

    margo, i bet you look cute painting in your jammies at night. puppy kramer at your feet, right? thanks for the compliment on the pic. you’re right, i was filled with simple joy at the moment it was taken.

  5. Margo on May 7, 2007 at 10:24 am

    Your happiness shows Diane! Yes, Kramer loves to watch me paint. He’s actually very protective, especially during the thunderstorms we’ve been having. At night in bed, during lightning and thunder, he insists upon lying ON me (just like my Leo use to do)…Gary says it’s his protective instinct.

  6. Diane Chamberlain on May 7, 2007 at 10:44 am

    lol. or maybe he’s scared and wants you as close as he can get.

  7. Margo on May 7, 2007 at 10:51 am

    Could be, but he doesn’t lie on Gary, it’s always me. Gary says he’s protecting the female…

  8. Anonymous on May 7, 2007 at 5:41 pm

    That’s no worse than Telling my students they can get names from cemetary lists. Creepy.

  9. Brenda on May 7, 2007 at 5:43 pm

    Graduation was great! Having my family around me…wonderful…I didn’t think I would feel the way I did…it is almost unbelievable that I finished. Now a doctorate? Don’t think I can manage that one but we’ll see.
    THANKS for the encouragement.

  10. brenda on May 7, 2007 at 5:51 pm

    Love that couch!!! Have sent info to friends who live in the south about your photography (John’s) clinic…

  11. brenda on May 7, 2007 at 5:52 pm

    P.S. I don’t know why my messages about using cemetary lists and the one about graduation read anonymous-but you know that’s yours truly-whoever would get a degree at my age?

  12. brenda on May 7, 2007 at 5:55 pm

    Here’s Mrs. Anonymous back again…am reading Kingsbury books…My daughter and I think they are all pretty similiar, but she is a very popular author…I am enjoying them as light reading…
    Received a Borders’ gift cert. as a grad gift-looking forward to using it to get something really great…any ideas????

  13. Diane Chamberlain on May 7, 2007 at 9:30 pm

    Brenda, (i fixed one of your anonymous posts for you–knew it was you!) My heartiest congratulations on your graduation! I am so happy for you. I hope you can have some well-earned goofing off time.
    As for books. . . I just finished THE ROAD by Cormac McCarthy. The part of me that loves “literary” books thought it was brilliant. The part of me that doesn’t thought it was pretentious. The two parts of me are still duking it out. Soooooooooooooo, I’ll leave that up to you. Have you read Darnell Arnoult’s SUFFICIENT GRACE? Every other book I can think of I know you’ve already read. THE YEAR OF MAGICAL THINKING by Didion? Lamott’s latest (blanking on the title)? It’s on my to be read pile.

  14. Ashley on May 7, 2007 at 10:32 pm

    the schedule thing is VERY tough… sleep is a thing of non-existence sometimes. It was Carrie Weaver on ER that walked with her crutches and still was the chief of staff, so it can’t be all bad for me- although i had some people tell me it was “unprofessional” for me to use my cane while caring for patients. I’m not sure which is worse- unprofessional for using my cane, or being ‘too friendly’ when my patients feel comfortable with me and i got along with those i worked with.
    Anyways, to the newspaper thing- if i’m in the middle of homework at the same time its the online newspapers… if i steal some time for myself the paper paper it is. I fear that they’ll be wiped out in time too, especially since even the simple city newspapers here have already started to ‘simplify’ even more- I mean, the Sun which is on average 80 pages (not including sports) has come out with a free condensed version of the same stories- but, like, 20 pages instead.

  15. Diane Chamberlain on May 7, 2007 at 11:00 pm

    >>although i had some people tell me it was “unprofessional” for me to use my cane while caring for patients.

  16. Margo on May 8, 2007 at 8:53 am

    Ashley, I agree with Diane. If anything, you are an inspiration to patients! I once had a doctor who’s private nurse suffered from BAD scoliosis and she was at an age where nothing could be done for her. She did not let her disability bother her and I found her to be a true role model. She also had a cane and I admired her.
    Brenda, many congratulations. Now it’s time for some R&R!

  17. Ashley on May 8, 2007 at 1:08 pm

    ThanMy whole outlook, other than the fact that if i couldn’t do the rotation I failed the semester, was wouldn’t it be more professional to use my cane and work all my shifts than to push myself for one shift and then not be able to work the other ones? Last semester, i had a couple patients look at me strange because i looked worse than some of them.. but after i explained and showed them i knew what i was talking about it went pretty good. I don’t knock my patients over with my cane (although it may have done some of them good :P).. and its pretty cool looking if i do say so myself 😛 It may not work for me in a few years- but that depends on whether or not they find out if i have RA or not :(.
    Congratulations, Brenda! Like Margo said, “now it’s time for some R&R”… if you remember what that is 😛

  18. brenda on May 8, 2007 at 5:19 pm

    Have read all of the above except the GRACE…
    As to THE ROAD…pretentious-I vote for that one.
    Rest for me? I am finishing the school year and getting ready to return to high school. I might teach an adjunct class at one of the colleges…we’ll see.
    Plans: Mem. weekend-a state park in Ohio with the family watching my son’s triath… June-to Indy to visit the girls. July-to Lake Placid, NY with my son for his Ironman…Back to Indy for birthdays with girls.
    ?Beach with husband My son will be moving south this year…
    Won’t be taking any classes for about a year (Doctorate???)
    Am reading…doing things at home…going to Y faithfully…and hoping to do some writing. Columns are behind…plus my fiction. THE YEAR OF MAGICAL THINKING___some book…I gave mine away. I have ordered :IF I AM MISSING OR DEAD at the library…sounds intriguing…

  19. brenda on May 8, 2007 at 5:21 pm

    D-this afternoon I was at the little cemetary where Mother is buried-to put a little arrangement of flowers on her grave and my grandmother’s. (For Mother’s Day-those things meant a lot to them.)
    Anyway, I read tombstones…some of the names are intriguing…always makes me wonder what happened to them-if they died really young-what were they thinking growing up…

  20. Diane Chamberlain on May 8, 2007 at 5:31 pm

    you have the mind of a fiction writer, brenda. that’s how stories begin.
    ashley, i like your attitude!

  21. Diane Chamberlain on May 8, 2007 at 5:36 pm

    brenda, does that mean you LIKED the YEAR OF MAGICAL THINKING or not?

  22. brenda on May 9, 2007 at 6:26 pm

    I liked Year of Magical Thinking…I have already studies some things she has written and was eager to read that one. I gave away hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of great books (the only kind I kept) because I wanted others to be able to enjoy them.

  23. Diane Chamberlain on May 15, 2007 at 2:41 pm

    I really liked the book too. I plan to reread it. I kept thinking “this is not the way I would grieve,” but grieving behavior is not one of those things you can predict ahead of time, nor is it the sort of thing that can ever be judged “right” or “wrong.” I was so upset to learn that she lost her daughter as well after the book was finished. A heart breaker.

  24. brenda on May 15, 2007 at 6:45 pm

    The way I grieved when Mother died of cancer at age 60–no one should do what I did. It was horrendous. The results-disastrous…grieving is not easy…
    Just finish M. H. Clark’s latest…intriguing…but as I have said before, after a certain number of books, they are totally predictable.
    Am reading an unusual book by Fern Michaels–about revenge…quite different than her usual ones–it is the 7th in the revenge series-somehow I missed that.
    Read a book a few weeks ago-whew…don’t know if you guys want to tackle it COLOR BLIND ?author…Also just finished a biography about Edith Wharton. When I was in Mass. for a month with Shakespeare and Company-visited her home…I like her books esp. AGE OF INNOCENCE and ETHAN FROME…
    Am working in the flowers, doing drawers, etc…and getting ready for a very busy summer. School ends about June 12 and I have no summer classes this year-until I start continuing ed early August. We have really about 2 months off…would rather work and be paid-but the stress level…

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