Kay Day is currently working on her first novel. She lives outside of Denver with her husband and two children. She has always loved reading and only recently began writing. She also enjoys watching movies, teaching Bible, and leading a book club. Visit Kay at www.loopdeloops.blogspot.com
I could do this. Yeah, why not? I mean I’ve got a billion stories in my head. All I have to do is write them down.
The idea occurs to me as I peruse the books at the local Barnes & Noble. All these other people get published. I don’t see any reason why I can’t. I used to write stuff all the time. I can do it again.
I amble over to the writing section. Man. There are a lot of books on writing. “This one looks good.” I grab a copy of How Idiots Write Novels and a copy of A Cute Girl’s Guide to Grammar and head to the cash register.
At home I clear off my desk and pull out Mom’s old typewriter. Sure, I have a great new Mac, but this is much more romantic. Did Hemingway use a computer? I don’t think so. I insert some printer paper and begin typing. Shoot. Where’s that Wite-Out? Digging through the drawer, I find the bottle in the back corner behind a rubber-band ball. I struggle with the lid, finally prying it off only to find a white shell coating the inside of the bottle.
I grab a piece of paper and a pen. Wite-Out, I write. I stare at the three words typed on the paper—one of them a totally wrong word—and tap my teeth with the pen. Typewriter Ribbon.
Walking to the coffee pot, I see the bookstore bag. Oh yeah, the book. Of course I should learn how to write before actually doing it. So I take the cup of coffee and the book to the couch and settle in to read.
Skimming the Table of Contents, I see a lot of stuff about description, POV (whatever that is), showing, and plotting. There doesn’t seem to be anything about how to actually write a novel. Isn’t there just a basic instruction book somewhere? Like, first do A, then B, and when you are finished, send it to a publisher?
Online, that’s the place to look. So I fire up the Mac and type “how to write a novel” into the Google space. Okay then. There’s something about how to write a book in one hundred days—yeah, like I’m going to take that long—and something about writing with a snowflake—what? Wiki has some stuff, and there’s something called nanowrimano or something. Just reading this stuff could take years. Maybe being educated isn’t that important.
Back at the typewriter, I pull out the piece of ruined paper, enjoying the buzzing sound. I insert a new piece and stare at it.
“Chapter One,” I type. Where are all the ideas that were in my head this morning? They were great. Now I’ve got nothin’.
I want to write something unique. My book will stand out from every other book ever written. I have to start it with something really spectacular. I grab the pen and tap my teeth. I play with the carriage return lever, pull the paper out just for the buzz of it, and then put it back in.
Maybe I’m not supposed to be a writer. I mean, who decides their life’s calling in a bookstore? Lord, do you want me to write?
I go to the basement and dig in a box for some short stories I wrote in high school. These are good. Aren’t they? People told me they were. Maybe I only used to be a writer. Maybe I lost it.
How does a person get writer’s block on her first book, on the first word? I bet Angela Hunt never gets writer’s block.
What I need is some fresh air, something to stimulate the mind. A trip to the mall should do the trick. Maybe if I buy some new shoes, I’ll feel more like a writer. Well, it can’t hurt.
After stopping at the Ben and Jerry’s kiosk, I’m drawn again to the bookstore. This time imagining my book in its alphabetical slot between two best-selling authors. Awesome.
Someone taps me on the shoulder. I turn and am surprised to see my old college roommate. We hug. We enthuse. I ask her what she’s been up to. She tells me about her job at a pediatrician’s office.
“What are you doing these days?” she asks.
“Nothing much. I work at a coffee shop.”
And then, as I’m standing there in the bookstore, he walks in. A guy with mullet—a long mullet. On his arm is tattooed a beer can the size of Alabama. On the other arm, a lady—a beautiful woman looking fresh out of charm school. Classy. A million scenarios rush through my head.
I smile at my friend. “And I’m a writer.”