Wednesday, May 05, 2010
The Detail (Wo)Man
The Sister is my best friend, a true 2 A.M. buddy who would come running no matter what silly thing I needed her for. And I need her for plenty, as she is also Martha Stewart Jr. The woman can cook, decorate, re-upholster furniture, refinish furniture, garden, build things and do light automotive work. Plus, she can clean like nobody's business.
I know. You're saying of course she's my best friend, if she can do all that. Oh, yeah, I know I've got it good.
But The Sister has to do things her way. And her way will, at times, drive me out of my mind.
A fr'instance (how we southerners say, "for instance") is an event The Sister helped me prep. I asked no small thing of her: take a room that looked like Post-war Beruit Grunge and turn it into Elegant Tropical Wedding. And after we hung yards and yards and yards of tulle and grass skirting, yanno, it DID.
As the deadline drew nigh, though, I found myself saying to The Sister as she fussed over some insignificant detail, "It will do. I promise, nobody will notice. If the Decorating Police appear, I'll bail you out."
The Sister refused to listen. Martha had fully taken over her body, and nothing less than perfection would do. "They'll SEE it," she insisted. "And it will spoil the mood. Then they'll start looking for other things that are wrong."
It occurred to me how that was what I would say about a bad fact or a character behaving illogically in a book.
Writers have as big a job as The Sister did. They have to turn printed words into a believable world. It has to ring true. The faintest false note will start breaking the spell. The suspension of disbelief won't stay suspended for long.
It was a reminder to me to make the extra effort, to really, really know what I write. That doesn't mean to stick with writing what I know (that'd be boring!) But it means that I need to reach out to the resources I have. And chances are, what with the internet, Twitter, Facebook and the connections I've made in life, someone can help me out when I need it. It may well be the person who, if I hadn't asked, would be throwing my book against the wall, saying, "That's all wrong! That could never happen!"
Saying big prayers for the folks in Nashville ... my heart aches for the entire city and everyone who has been affected by these floods. A big prayer, too, for the rescue workers, the medical personnel, the social services folks and the utility company employees -- Lord, keep 'em safe, and help them get a LITTLE bit of sleep when they can.