Working Wench

Loretta_5_4       From Loretta:
      
      I haven’t been to a Romance Writers of America annual conference since the last one in Washington, DC, and then I made only a brief appearance.  The last one before that was the one in St. Louis when they had the flood and the tornado warnings and 20 lightning strikes per hour.
      It’s true that I’ve met several Wenches at RWA conferences–they say it’s true, and I have to believe them because a good part of my past is a blur, especially the past involving those endless-sea-of-people conferences–but these days I prefer to meet new friends and renew old acquaintance at smaller gatherings, like chapter conferences.
      As a member of RWA I get the monthly Romance Writers Report, which this month contained an interview with Nora Roberts.  And I am here to say, Thanks, Nora.  I needed that.
      Not that I haven’t been on the same page with Nora–ah, if only I had the same results–previously.  However, she has a short, blunt way of cutting through the b.s. in which this business of writing often becomes mired.
      People talk about the Muse and I nod, Uh huh, uh huh, and meanwhile I’m thinking, Muse, what muse?  It’s just me and the computer for as far as the eye can see.  My brain is like the home of someone with the pack-rat version of OCD:  tons and tons of junk crammed in there, and no, I don’t know where everything is.  I have to keep looking until I find it.
      That’s how I write.  I keep looking until I find it.
      Unlike the amazing Ms. Roberts, I do start with an outline and very much unlike her, I cannot write one book a month.  One book a year is my great accomplishment.  I would like to write more.  It isn’t for lack of trying, believe me.  It isn’t for lack of discipline, either–although I’m not sure anyone’s at Nora’s level of discipline.  Besides, I didn’t go to Catholic school and I’m not Irish, so there’s a cultural gap, too.
      But my attitude about the job seems to match hers pretty well.  This boils down to It’s my JOB.
      And as she points out, it’s a terrific job.  I don’t have to get up at a particular time in the morning (good thing, because I’m not an early riser), I don’t have to fight traffic to get to work (good thing, because I hate driving–and that’s another story), and I don’t have to wear panty hose (not that panty hose has no place in my life, especially the control top kind).  I don’t have to look businesslike.  I don’t have a boss trying to manage me (I’m not very manageable) and I’m not a boss trying to manage others (I’ve done it; I’m bad at it).
      When I was a meter maid (a job I kind of loved, actually, because the experience was so Dickensian), I not only had to get up at a certain time, dress in an unattractive brown polyester uniform that included panty hose and ugly shoes, but I had to deal with drivers.  Everyone in the world but me thinks he/she is a great driver.  No one seems to realize that this is statistically impossible, especially in Massachusetts.  Not only this, I discovered, but everyone in the world–with occasional exceptions–thinks he/she is a great parker, too.
    Lc_metermaid_02   A parking ticket contradicts this rosy self-image.  Many drivers did not take the contradiction well.  Some of them even threatened me with bodily injury.  Mostly, though, the abuse was verbal.  I wanted to respond, but not in the polite way the meter maid rules insisted upon.  I wanted to say things like, “Hey, Big Guy, learn to tell time.”  Or, “Learn to read the signs, Lady.”  I wanted to point to the NO PARKING ANYTIME sign and ask what part of it was giving them trouble.
      Above all, I wanted to say, “Get over it and pay the $^>%&*#  ticket”–which at this time BTW was in the great majority of cases a meter violation, to the tune of $1.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Drivers went ballistic over a $1 ticket, despite their being clearly in the wrong.  I made one error regarding a fire hydrant, when I started out–and the guy took me to court, another interesting part of the job–but meters were easy.  You had that helpful yellow VIOLATION sign, which popped up when time ran out.  It didn’t matter.  People yelled, stamped their feet.  Once a man practically started a riot on a street.  Over a whopping $2 ticket.
      Sometimes my hecklers were funny.  Once, after shouting down at me for a time–from a window of an apartment–a guy finished with, “And I don’t like your hair, either,” and shut the window.  My hair, too?  I was so hurt. 
      At least once a week, someone serenaded me with “Lovely Rita Meter Maid.”  Various street people of the mentally unbalanced variety ranted at me.  Drunken men wooed me. 
      Well, I could write a book.
      Which I’d much rather do instead.  Even if it means that this year I have to give up my two weeks of August vacation to do so.
      This is necessary if I don’t want to run the risk of turning my book in late.  People–especially non-writers–tell me that it isn’t the end of the world if the book’s a little late.  To me it’s a catastrophe.  In spite of my best efforts, I have missed deadlines, and it always upsets me and I hate myself.  So I was grateful to Nora for saying it was important not to miss them.  This is not only because I had someone on my side on this issue, indicating that I was not neurotic–or no more so than at least one other published writer.  I was grateful, too, because I could quote from the interview to my husband and other family members.  You see, if I act like that, I’m a nut case.  But Nora makes the big bucks.  Nora has a kajillion books in print.  She gives me total credibility.  For a time–until people forget about what she said–my obsessive
work ethic is not only not insane but actually quite intelligent.
      Beach_barbie_2 So after this, I’m going right back to work–even if it is Saturday, my usual day off as well as what could have been the first day of a Maine vacation.
      Am I sobbing?  Please.  Not hardly likely.
      I’ve got a POS to wrestle into submission, and I can’t wait to get my hands on it.
      Thanks, Nora.

18 thoughts on “Working Wench”

  1. Hi Loretta!
    Great post! Love your story and the picture. Yup, them’s are horrible shoes.
    I have one of those ‘pantyhose’ jobs (the control-top type) along with writing an average of 4000 words a week. Not all of them are good and none of them are published. Yet. But I strongly sympathize with the ‘dead line’ thing. Miss a dead line… I would rather die. So, I guess that makes you my Nora Roberts. 😉
    Nina, head’n back to her muse.

    Reply
  2. Hi Loretta!
    Great post! Love your story and the picture. Yup, them’s are horrible shoes.
    I have one of those ‘pantyhose’ jobs (the control-top type) along with writing an average of 4000 words a week. Not all of them are good and none of them are published. Yet. But I strongly sympathize with the ‘dead line’ thing. Miss a dead line… I would rather die. So, I guess that makes you my Nora Roberts. 😉
    Nina, head’n back to her muse.

    Reply
  3. Hi Loretta!
    Great post! Love your story and the picture. Yup, them’s are horrible shoes.
    I have one of those ‘pantyhose’ jobs (the control-top type) along with writing an average of 4000 words a week. Not all of them are good and none of them are published. Yet. But I strongly sympathize with the ‘dead line’ thing. Miss a dead line… I would rather die. So, I guess that makes you my Nora Roberts. 😉
    Nina, head’n back to her muse.

    Reply
  4. Dear Loretta and wenches, all —
    Now that was a rant! I read that article in the RWR, too (on the plane on the WAY to Atlanta!!!). I get my copy early–have no idea why. Fortunately they did not name the RITA and Golden Heart winners. I think Nora said: “Screw the muse.”
    I have half a muse. My muse only does dialogue. She talks to me in the shower and on my ride to work. I rush out of the shower, or out of the car, and quickly type the dialogue. I fill-in the scenery later. It’s kinda cool in a way because I can put my characters anywhere I want to and they can have these discussions.
    Nailing myself to a chair to write the scenery is the work part, and I do not get paid for it.
    Confession time– Christina Dodd said that writers will envy other writers, and writers will be envied. I do not envy any of you your talent or even your publishing contracts. I envy writers their lifestyle. Being able to sleep late. Mull over your chapters while having your first coffee. Working in your pyjamas!!! I envy that.
    Loretta, you must be a genius to have written Lord of Scoundrels and Lord Perfect and Captives of the Night (was it Captives of the Night that had an Albanian hero and an artist heroine?) without a muse’s help. I’m amazed. –Cathy

    Reply
  5. Dear Loretta and wenches, all —
    Now that was a rant! I read that article in the RWR, too (on the plane on the WAY to Atlanta!!!). I get my copy early–have no idea why. Fortunately they did not name the RITA and Golden Heart winners. I think Nora said: “Screw the muse.”
    I have half a muse. My muse only does dialogue. She talks to me in the shower and on my ride to work. I rush out of the shower, or out of the car, and quickly type the dialogue. I fill-in the scenery later. It’s kinda cool in a way because I can put my characters anywhere I want to and they can have these discussions.
    Nailing myself to a chair to write the scenery is the work part, and I do not get paid for it.
    Confession time– Christina Dodd said that writers will envy other writers, and writers will be envied. I do not envy any of you your talent or even your publishing contracts. I envy writers their lifestyle. Being able to sleep late. Mull over your chapters while having your first coffee. Working in your pyjamas!!! I envy that.
    Loretta, you must be a genius to have written Lord of Scoundrels and Lord Perfect and Captives of the Night (was it Captives of the Night that had an Albanian hero and an artist heroine?) without a muse’s help. I’m amazed. –Cathy

    Reply
  6. Dear Loretta and wenches, all —
    Now that was a rant! I read that article in the RWR, too (on the plane on the WAY to Atlanta!!!). I get my copy early–have no idea why. Fortunately they did not name the RITA and Golden Heart winners. I think Nora said: “Screw the muse.”
    I have half a muse. My muse only does dialogue. She talks to me in the shower and on my ride to work. I rush out of the shower, or out of the car, and quickly type the dialogue. I fill-in the scenery later. It’s kinda cool in a way because I can put my characters anywhere I want to and they can have these discussions.
    Nailing myself to a chair to write the scenery is the work part, and I do not get paid for it.
    Confession time– Christina Dodd said that writers will envy other writers, and writers will be envied. I do not envy any of you your talent or even your publishing contracts. I envy writers their lifestyle. Being able to sleep late. Mull over your chapters while having your first coffee. Working in your pyjamas!!! I envy that.
    Loretta, you must be a genius to have written Lord of Scoundrels and Lord Perfect and Captives of the Night (was it Captives of the Night that had an Albanian hero and an artist heroine?) without a muse’s help. I’m amazed. –Cathy

    Reply
  7. I loved the meter maid story, Loretta.
    One of the symbolistes poets (Mallarmé maybe?) wrote about the “given line,” his idea being that the Muse or whoever gave a single line and the poet worked for the rest. I find often, regardless of what I am writing, that it works that way for me. Once I was preparing to give an exam and picked up a sea shell on my desk to move it. Instantly a line came: “an angel wing chipped at the outer curve.” It took a couple of months, but one of my best poems came from that line.

    Reply
  8. I loved the meter maid story, Loretta.
    One of the symbolistes poets (Mallarmé maybe?) wrote about the “given line,” his idea being that the Muse or whoever gave a single line and the poet worked for the rest. I find often, regardless of what I am writing, that it works that way for me. Once I was preparing to give an exam and picked up a sea shell on my desk to move it. Instantly a line came: “an angel wing chipped at the outer curve.” It took a couple of months, but one of my best poems came from that line.

    Reply
  9. I loved the meter maid story, Loretta.
    One of the symbolistes poets (Mallarmé maybe?) wrote about the “given line,” his idea being that the Muse or whoever gave a single line and the poet worked for the rest. I find often, regardless of what I am writing, that it works that way for me. Once I was preparing to give an exam and picked up a sea shell on my desk to move it. Instantly a line came: “an angel wing chipped at the outer curve.” It took a couple of months, but one of my best poems came from that line.

    Reply
  10. Wylene, if there is a Muse–and I really don’t know what or who this is–this is how she works with me. One line. If I’m lucky. The rest of the time it’s struggling through the bric-a-brac in the mind attic and trying to turn my little finds into deathless prose. Mary Jo, if I do write that contemporary, I think it needs to be paranormal. Oh, Cathy, if I were a genius I wouldn’t have to do all that wrestling with words. They would simply flow. But as Nora pointed out, the job isn’t easy. And would it be as much fun if it were?
    Nina, I had a pair of shoes even more hideous.

    Reply
  11. Wylene, if there is a Muse–and I really don’t know what or who this is–this is how she works with me. One line. If I’m lucky. The rest of the time it’s struggling through the bric-a-brac in the mind attic and trying to turn my little finds into deathless prose. Mary Jo, if I do write that contemporary, I think it needs to be paranormal. Oh, Cathy, if I were a genius I wouldn’t have to do all that wrestling with words. They would simply flow. But as Nora pointed out, the job isn’t easy. And would it be as much fun if it were?
    Nina, I had a pair of shoes even more hideous.

    Reply
  12. Wylene, if there is a Muse–and I really don’t know what or who this is–this is how she works with me. One line. If I’m lucky. The rest of the time it’s struggling through the bric-a-brac in the mind attic and trying to turn my little finds into deathless prose. Mary Jo, if I do write that contemporary, I think it needs to be paranormal. Oh, Cathy, if I were a genius I wouldn’t have to do all that wrestling with words. They would simply flow. But as Nora pointed out, the job isn’t easy. And would it be as much fun if it were?
    Nina, I had a pair of shoes even more hideous.

    Reply
  13. My muse is as cranky as I am. Or maybe she’s just lazy. I have no idea how anyone finds the creatures when it’s time to write and gave up long ago. They’re probably all congregated on a Maine beach somewhere.
    And I’m here to tell ya, deadlines are very important. I got paid a cool six figures because I met mine and a publisher couldn’t wiggle out of their contract on the excuse that I hadn’t when they shut their doors and didn’t want to pay anyone. I think they were actually counting on the fact that writers never meet deadlines. Ha! I totally stress over them, too. I agree, it’s not pretty.
    At least take some time to relax your head if you don’t get that vacation!

    Reply
  14. My muse is as cranky as I am. Or maybe she’s just lazy. I have no idea how anyone finds the creatures when it’s time to write and gave up long ago. They’re probably all congregated on a Maine beach somewhere.
    And I’m here to tell ya, deadlines are very important. I got paid a cool six figures because I met mine and a publisher couldn’t wiggle out of their contract on the excuse that I hadn’t when they shut their doors and didn’t want to pay anyone. I think they were actually counting on the fact that writers never meet deadlines. Ha! I totally stress over them, too. I agree, it’s not pretty.
    At least take some time to relax your head if you don’t get that vacation!

    Reply
  15. My muse is as cranky as I am. Or maybe she’s just lazy. I have no idea how anyone finds the creatures when it’s time to write and gave up long ago. They’re probably all congregated on a Maine beach somewhere.
    And I’m here to tell ya, deadlines are very important. I got paid a cool six figures because I met mine and a publisher couldn’t wiggle out of their contract on the excuse that I hadn’t when they shut their doors and didn’t want to pay anyone. I think they were actually counting on the fact that writers never meet deadlines. Ha! I totally stress over them, too. I agree, it’s not pretty.
    At least take some time to relax your head if you don’t get that vacation!

    Reply

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