Monday, December 2, 2013

Perils of the Writer: Disasters Big and Small

Little things can throw kinks in your day.  A speeding ticket throws you ten minutes behind (and a minor headache to deal with).  Ten minutes behind means you're now in the worst thicket of traffic that you had hoped to avoid, making that ten minute drive to your destination take twenty-five.   Being late means you have to play catch-up, forcing you to miss lunch.  The drop in blood sugar makes you slower, leaving you a pile of work that you have to take home that night.  That takes up your whole evening, and what time is left for you to squeeze some writing in?


Unless you sacrifice your sleep, and thus oversleep in the morning, come in to work late again, etc. etc. 

And what happens when you have a real disaster?

Be it a minor, personal disaster (a grease fire in the kitchen, a fallen tree through the bedroom window, a leak in the bathroom necessitating ripping open the walls) or one's own story within a greater disaster (a flood or tornado tearing through one's home)-- disasters change our expectations of how the rest of our day, week, month, even life are going to go.

And while it's incredibly inconvenient, it's also the underlying source behind great drama in writing. 
First off, the thing that comes to mind is the immediate, quick decisions that need to be made in the face of disasters.  How we (or our characters) react when disaster strikes define us.  

But once a disaster has hit, and the immediate repercussions have been felt, what next?  For me, the thing I always start thinking about is the small details.  For a personal example, the thing that sticks with to me (in the case of the bathroom one, which happened to us a few years ago) was less the big work of having to have the bathroom remodeled, but the steps we took to minimize dust from the remodel from covering the rest of the house, and cleaning off the bits and pieces of personal items that did get covered. 

Stuff like that sticks with you-- sometimes literally, as you find something that got missed weeks later-- and as I work on Banshee, a story that is quite populated with disasters, and how each character deals with the big and small of the disasters that befall them.

Time to jump into the wordmines.  See you when I get out.

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