Sunday, June 20, 2010

Two Types of Writers or Two Types of People?

Almost every day, here's how my work morning begins:
Before I run into the library, I look down to make sure I'm wearing shoes.  I check to make sure I'm wearing socks. I give myself an extra point in my shoes and socks match. If it's seasonally appropriate and I'm wearing sandals, I make sure I'm not wearing socks.
I take a quick look at my shirt to see if it sort of goes with my pants. Then, I feel the lobes of my ears to see if I'm wearing earrings. All the while, I'm wondering if everything that should be in my bag (my laptop, cell phone, etc) is really there.
This tells you three things about me.
1. I have a hard time getting out of the house in the morning
2. I'd be a great candidate for that fashion show "What Not To Wear"
3. I'm not a planner.
Once, when I told a friend about my morning routine, she suggested that I decide what I was wearing the night before. She told me that on Sunday nights, she picks out her clothes for the entire week. 
And there you have the great divide: My friend is a planner. And I am not.
If you're reading this and you're a planner, you're nodding at the good common sense of her plan. If you're like me, you're wondering how this works. After all, what if on Thursday morning, instead of that happy-looking turquoise number you picked out, you feel the need to dress completely in black?
There are planners everywhere. You can spot them instantly. They're the ones with the big orders in the supermarkets,the parents of preschoolers who are sitting at the playground wondering about college, and the friends who pull out their BlackBerries to make arrangements for your next lunch date. 
You can also tell the non planners. We're the ones who see these things..and slowly back away.
Writers are often asked if they're plotters or pantsers (Pantsers refers to those who write "by the seat of their pants".) Personally I prefer the term "meanderer" but either way, you get the idea.  It's not hard to guess which camp I fall into.
Here's my question.  Is your writing process a manifestation of your personality?
If you're a planner in life, then are you a planner in writing? And if you prefer to take things as they come in everyday existence, then is that how you create a novel? Is it possible to be one thing in life and another as a writer? 
...and is there such a thing as middle ground?

ADDITIONAL COMMENT: A friend (who is a planner) read this and said that it was clearly skewed. For the record, I am in awe of people who can plan and wish I could be more like least, some of the time.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

What do you remember about your favorite books?

Last week, I listened to the audio version of Jacqueline Woodson's Feathers. I loved it. I loved the language, how the words fell into my living room and wrapped themselves around me, and I loved the warm, soft feeling of the story. And the images... The scene where Sean and Frannie are sitting at the window and Sean talks about his bridge will stay with me forever. As will Frannie's struggle to find hope. And I had to listen to the part where they described the color yellow over and over again.

It's the feelings about a book that stay with me.  The plot will fade.  It always does. Even with cliff-hanger stories like Suzanne Collin's The Hunger Games, there are huge chunks of plot that I won't remember. I loved the edge-of-your-seat twists and turns in that story, and there are unforgettable scenes in that book. But what I remember most are the feelings I had while reading it. Anxiety. Tension. Surprise. I remember falling asleep at 3am and waking up at 6, determined to finish it and not really caring if the house fell down around me until I did.  

Sometimes I think I'm having one of those senior moments, but it's always been like this.  Books are like my other memories. I remember images, characters (or in real life, people) and how I felt during the experience.  I wonder if I'm alone.

How about you? What do you remember most about your favorite stories?