Here in the swamp there is one day every month that I look forward to with baited breath and giddy excitement–the first Saturday, that joyous day when I make the trek through our stomping grounds over to Smokey’s place where delicious and enticing aromas waft like catnip through the air. This time I left not only the Prankster Duo and the hellhound behind, but even my knight-in-slightly-muddy armor stayed at home. He was muttering something about playoff tournaments and had pulled out his old high school jousting thingy. The Evil 7 were meeting for our monthly eat-n-gab and I was anxious to fling a few ideas off of them.
As I made my way through the swamp even the Zombies had a small pep to their normal shuffle-drag so it was more along the lines of shuffle-drag-hop. Mischievous was tormenting our newest arrival-Mr. C. Rock Adail. There were bets circulating on how long before Mr. C. Rock-AnAss lasted before someone decided Mrs. Swamp Thing needed a new pair of boots. I was down for a month, but we’ll see…
As I basked in the inspiring atmosphere of the other dwarves, it hit me why these other six individuals are so important to me as a writer. I thought I’d share these pearls with you all…
1. They are the only ones I know who can understand that the voices in my head do not equate to a psychotic break, but are in actuality–character development.
2. Just because I think I have developed a perfectly awesome plot outline for book 3 and should be lauded for my brilliance, they will be the ones to shake their heads with varying degrees of pity and indulgence as they slash my ego down to size with, “Awww sweetie, this is great.. but it’s not book three, this is book four.” Only they could walk away unscathed from pointing out my mistakes.
3. They push me to stretch my limits to a breaking point and sometimes even get me to reset those limits somewhere completely new. Who else could would understand my fear of writing a character who’s not tempered into a lethal weapon by a torturous past? I’m sure Freud would have a field day with me, but only the other Evil 6 get why the thought of writing a character with a happy past makes my skin clammy and cold while my stomach twists into a Gordian knot.
4. They’re safe. Strange concept for a motley group like us, but oh so true. With them, it doesn’t matter how twisted, dark, wildly inappropriate, weirdly humorous, or silly the concepts are, I can share them and know they aren’t wondering when I’ll hit their house in the middle of the night in a white mask or show up in a white jacket with buckles in the back. Every writer needs somewhere to bounce all sorts of things around, just to see where they’ll hit or what ideas they’ll spark. With my group, I have the freedom to do that without worrying if they’ll think differently of me because of it. They already know I’m warped, so no use in hiding it.
5. Without them I wouldn’t be working on a book 3, book 4 or even considering 5-8. We may have all moved into the Swamp at different times, from different spots in our meandering journeys, but they become my cheering squad, my cattle-prods, my stinging whip of determination and my life saving rope of sanity in the very perilous world of writing. They’re the ones who can make sure your characters are being true to themselves and their world, your plots may twist and turn but smooth out in the end, and you don’t ever stop writing.
6. They understand the importance of taking time to dream. Each of us have had to learn how to snatch our precious dreaming time from the clutches of the real world. Every writer needs those precious minutes every day. Time to flesh out those voices in our head, add topography to those worlds we’re creating, and finagle a few twists and turns in those pesky plot lines. Others may snark at taking time to dream when reality is an oppressive monster, but we understand just how vital and necessary the skill is to our artists souls. And we guard it zealously with no apologies.
The first Saturday of the month may provide me with lots of adult conversations that seem to be lacking in every day life, but it’s also my time outside of time. It’s a chance to share laughter, ideas, and insights with individuals who are my friends and defenders. I take huge comfort in the fact that together we become formidable defenders who protect the tiny pieces of our souls that we set into story and lay on paper and place before the intimidating eye of the world.