Wednesday, May 26, 2010

In which I maturely do not say "hump" despite mentioning camels

Yesterday, the FedEx man brought my new iPhone.

I’ve never owned such a miraculous device before, and I sat for an hour gazing at it in wonder.

I showed it to Pythagoras when he got home. “See how shiny?”

“It is,” he agreed. “Do you plan to turn it on?”

“Maybe,” I said. “Does that require candlelight and soft music, or will I need to rub it?”

I’m only half kidding, because the fact is, I hate reading directions. Maps, too, are a mystery to me.

This is a key area where I differ from my husband, who would cheerfully consult a map to navigate his way from our kitchen to the bathroom.

When we were in Morocco a few years ago, our guidebook suggested that Marrakesh’s souks – the large, open-air markets – were a great place to get lost.
A souk in Marrakesh

To me, this sounded like an adventure.

To my husband, it sounded like a good reason to buy three maps and stay up half the night plotting our course.

As is usually the case in a solid marriage like ours, we spent the next few days bitching at each other compromising our varied approaches. I got to meander aimlessly, stumbling down hidden corridors discovering new sights and sounds and smells.

Pythagoras got to ensure we found our way back to our hotel instead of accepting the rug vendor’s invitation to share a bed with him and his four wives.

I keep thinking of this as I stumble my way through LET IT BREATHE, the third book in my contract with Sourcebooks. Every time I open the document on my computer, it’s like meandering down those spice-scented corridors in Marrakesh.

I start typing, and suddenly – hey look, there’s a camel!
I get to ride a camel into the Sahara at sunset.

(OK, technically, it’s an alpaca in my story, but it did appear rather unexpectedly in the manuscript one morning).

I know this approach would drive plenty of authors batty. Well-organized plotters like my critique partner, Cynthia Reese, would not take kindly to livestock of any sort showing up in their stories without an invitation.

And you know what? That’s OK. I don’t begrudge my husband’s need for a map or other authors' desire for a little more structure to their writing. We all have different ways of getting where we’re going. My method works great for me, just like a structured approach might work great for you.

And speaking of working, we did get my iPhone to function. We achieved it through calculated teamwork approach that involved me punching a lot of random buttons and Pythagoras frowning at the device and asking, “what the hell did you do to it?”

See? Compromise. It’s a beautiful thing.
Pythagoras figures out my new iPhone with some help from Bindi the Australian Kelpie.


Matthew Delman said...

Heh. I can see Bindi did quite a bit to help with the iPhone. It's hard work looking that adorable.

Jamie D. said...

Cutest picture *ever* there...Bindi is too sweet. :-)

You know that your husband is a little odd in that whole "will consult maps for directions" thing, right? Mine has no issue with just wandering (and might even seriously consider the invitation from the rug vendor, if only for a few moments).

The minute I saw you tweeting about an alpaca, and what would happen if one ate a certain taboo crop, I knew it was going to be a great no matter how you're getting there, I say keep going! ;-)

Elizabeth said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Elizabeth Ryann said...

So what'd you do to impress the rug vendor and his four wives so much? And where does one find a bed that is big enough to accommodate six adults?

Karla Nellenbach said...

aww! bindi is so sweet to help P she the one that's sick? hope she feels better soon

Patrick said...


(Elizabeth Ryann - I'm sure it had nothing to do with a tight shirt or bikini and skis)

Expat mum said...

I'm with Pythagoras on the souks. Took me hours to get out last time I was there!

Linda G. said...

I can't *believe* you passed up that opportunity with the rug vendor! And here I thought you were an adventurous soul. ;)

Candyland said...

I want to ride a camel (alpaca)!

Dawn said...

I love my iPhone as well :-)
I'm definitely not a structured writer - though sometimes I wish I were. I'd absolutely welcome an uninvited camel...or alpaca.

Elizabeth Flora Ross said...

You must be some woman for Pythagoras to turn down that offer! LOL

My writing style is quite unstructured when I first start out. I just try to get all my thoughts down, and worry about making sense of it all later. In life, however, I am the complete opposite. Ms. Organized. Which is good, b/c my husband is not!

Tawna Fenske said...

Matthew, Bindi works hard at being adorable every day. It's tough work, but someone has to do it!

Jamie D, thanks! The alpaca has become my favorite character in the whole book :)

danicaavet, Pythagoras and I went to a giant maze made of corn stalks several years ago, and he immediately wanted to consult the map to find our way through it. To me, the whole point was to get lost wandering in it. Different strokes...!

Elizabeth, it's possible I was exaggerating about the rug vendor (though he DID invite us to come have dinner with him and his wives).

Karla, yep, Bindi is the one who's been sick. She had an allergic reaction yesterday to some sort of mystery bite or sting. The vet wasn't sure what happened, but all seems well now.

Patrick, actually, my husband has no head. It's nice, because he never has to fuss with his hair.

Expat mum, I really did love getting lost in the souks. Actually, I had to TRY to get lost, just for the fun of it. I kept finding my way back too easily!

Linda G, want me to track him down and give him your phone number?

Candyland, camels are definitely ride-able. Alpacas, not so much. They're pretty small (but very cute!)

Dawn, I haven't really mastered the iPhone just yet, but it does seem reasonably user-friendly.

Elizabeth, my husband is the scatterbrained one who loses things, but he's great with maps. I'm the one who doesn't read maps, but I always know where his car keys are :)

Thanks for reading, guys!

Patty Blount said...

Hey! I WRITE those instructions you never read at the day job. *stamps foot* Though, not for cool devices like an iPhone.

However, I do recognize similar sightings in my own writing. When I was writing Border Lines, I had a group of friends orbiting the MC but they insisted on divulging so many of her secrets, I realized they're NOT friends, they're brothers. Ok, not an alpaca, but it was still a moment where the story took me down a path listed nowhere in the outline.

Kathi Oram Peterson said...

Wow, that's something. I have a question--does your hubby also stop and ask for directions if he's lost? See, I'm married to someone who would rather drive a hundred miles before stopping to ask for directions. He's a sweetheart, my hubby, but he has this thing about asking others for directions.

I'm envious of your pretty iPhone.

Elisabeth Black said...

You're on a camel! A wooly, wooly camel.

Liz Czukas said...

I love that you had a random appearance from an alpaca. I'm that kind of writer, too. In my current manuscript, my main character informed another that she used to be on a synchronized swim team. "Huh," I thought. "Who knew?" My philosophy is, why fight it, you know?

Enjoy the iPhone. You'll never be the same.

- Liz

Bethany Elizabeth said...

Ha, I'm totally unorganized in my writing too! Although, livestock usually keeps to the background of the story. :) I know some authors are super-organized, but I'm definitely not that way about plot. Maybe about physical character traits, but not about anything else!

Tawna Fenske said...

Patty, LOL, I actually spent a couple years as a tech writer myself, so I can empathize. I can't read the stuff, but I can at least empathize with the writers!

Kathi, my hubby is one of those remarkably self-assured men who doesn't mind asking for directions. Doesn't mean he'll follow them, of course!

Elizabeth, the camel WAS really wooly! And kind of smelly, too. And the noises it made...sounded like a cappuccino machine.

Liz, it's those little surprises that make writing really fun, at least for me.

Bethany, I prefer to think of it as "free spirited," as opposed to "unorganized," but I suppose they're the same thing :)

Thanks for reading, guys!

Claire Dawn said...

Different strokes for different folks! That's the spice of life. Me- I'm a gallivanter (what we call someone who can't stay in one place) and it's great. But I wouldn't last very long if there weren't people who liked living in one place to do things like grow the food I eat and clean the teeth I eat it with and build the fridge I store it in and repair the toilet... Well, you get the idea :)