"If you could read my mind, love,
What a tale my thoughts could tell..."
The inner life of a writer is fascinating. I know mine is and I've been assured by my writer friends that theirs is too. Writers, more than any other species besides secret agents, live double lives. We have the most ordinary one that friends and family and perfect strangers observe, and the extraordinary one we've created in our minds, the one we intend to put on paper.
By day, I'm a mild-mannered wife and mother. I home-school my kids, walk the beagle and look for bargains at the grocery store. By night (or whenever I sit down to write) I'm something else entirely. I'm the hero. I've killed men with my bare hands. I've jumped from airplanes. I've saved the heroine. Or I switch POVs and suddenly I'm the heroine, torn between the love of two good men.
This double life became apparent to me one morning as I sat in the dentist's chair while the dental hygienist cleaned my teeth. Not much talking to be done just then, not with my mouth wide open. So I stared at the ceiling tiles and thought about my current scene-in-progress which happened to be a love scene. After 20 minutes of plotting this amorous affair, it suddenly occurred to me that if the dental hygienist could read my mind I'd be mortified. Thankfully, she probably thought I was thinking about my shopping list.
If you're like me, your thoughts often travel to your work-in-progress. Something may trigger a thought, an idea, or a solution to something you've been working on, and off you go, deep into the world you've created. No one around you knows it, but you've suddenly left the cubicle, left the church pew, left the line at the checkout. You're worlds away, leading your double life, again.
My double life once got me into trouble on the road. Whatever it was that I was thinking had me very inspired - so inspired I forgot to watch my speedometer until I saw the flashing red lights in my rear-view mirror. Thankfully the police officer who stepped up to my car window was very nice and only issued me a warning. As I drove off - slowly and well under the speed limit - I sternly told my protagonist to shut up and get in the back seat. We were done conversing that day.
Like Kristen, not many people in my every day life know that I write fiction. It's not something I talk about to non-writers, which is pretty much everyone in my real-life world. I don't think they'd understand it - especially the double life thing. I go about my very ordinary existence, content to keep my world within me.
Next time you see an ordinary woman out walking her beagle in the park, beware. She's really plotting how best to use interrogation techniques, how to use C-4 explosive on a downed Huey, or how to escape a bunker with armed guards.
Or worse... she could be rewriting that love scene.