Wednesday, January 7, 2009

You Know It'll Work When...

...the idea just won't let you go.

This is a crappy time of the year for me. This week = final exam reviews and kids frantically writing their 6-page final essays. This weekend = reading 65 student essays and grading them. Next week = administering 3 different final exams. Next weekend = grading 65 final exams. Weekend after that = planning for and beginning and entirely new semester with new kids and (for the first time in five years) a new course that I've never taught before.

So, yeah, I'm tapping the gin bottle soon.

But no one cares about that. Here's what I'm really writing about:

Recently, I met a writer friend at a coffee shop to discuss our manuscripts. She read a scene where one of the characters (Ms. Wendt, the witchly teacher) gets angry. She pointed out that Ms. Wendt's anger is pretty mild and dropped quickly. This isn't the first time that I've heard that before, so as soon as she said it, I started thinking of ways to make that scene better. After all, she a pissed off witch--surely she can do more than yell!

An image started forming (she gets so angry she catches on fire), but it was a bit vague, so I just let it sit around in my brain all weekend. Then school started up, and I still kind of had it all in the back of my head, but I wasn't writing anything--I was too exhausted from school. Then we had a staff meeting that was mind-numbingly boring, and I started doodling because, let's be honest, I certainly wasn't going to do anything so crazy as pay attention.

And what I doodled was that scene that had been bouncing around my brain.

When an idea grabs you on one day and is coming out of your fingers in sketches half a week later, you know you've got a good scene.

So I'm not going to play around here. I'm going to go write that scene!
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