“Write what you know.”
Sage advice that has been handed down from critic to writer and writer to writer for years…centuries.
And it is total malarkey.
Write what I know (scoffs)—I’m a 30 something (okay, okay, 40 something) baseball mom, dog owner, retail manager, devoted wife, chief cook and bottle washer at my humble little brick colonial in good ol’ Oklahoma. I drive a Ford, would rather eat icing than cake, and wear Crocs instead of house shoes. Who wants to read about that? Gawd, I hope no one is so desperate that my everyday life would be entertaining.
So if it’s not about writing what I know, what do I write about? When asked why he writes horror, Stephen King says he writes what he is given.
Hmmm…but that would mean ideas are gifts.
Yes. Yes, they are. They float down from heaven, rise out of the foggy steam after a summer rain. Are blown about by a gentle gust of wind. And they land where the breeze takes them. It’s what the recipient does with the idea after it falls that separates the men from the boys as they say, or the writers from the talkers.
Many times I have told someone that I’m an author only for them to tell me that they want to write a book…someday. I believe most people would like to be a part of the literary world. In order to be a writer, a person has to be somewhat intelligent, have a grasp of at least one language and have the perseverance to sit in one place long enough to form coherent thoughts—all desirable traits. What most people don’t know is that writing can be like bleeding upon paper. Every word brutal. Dictionary, spell check, synopsis, rejection letters. And then it starts all over again. And you *want* to do this? Are you crazy?
On the flip side, I do believe there is a book inside everyone. Whether or not it can be brought out is another matter altogether. King (yes, I love that man) says that writers are like archeologists. The stories are already there, buried in whatever it is you might want to call it. Just under the surface. An idea brings about the knowledge that the story is there (my words, not his) and then the writer’s job is to extract the story keeping it as intact as possible while trying to bring it out to show the world.
This, my friends, is no small task. Many times I have sat at my computer about to bang my head against the edge of the desk, trying to make a scene flow. Why won’t this work? What’s wrong with it? What’s wrong with me? Nothing, nothing, and nothing. Except…if I try to make the scene into what I want it to be, it doesn’t work. Only when I take a step back, and let it flow naturally does the scene take off again.
Am I saying that I have no control over what I write? Not at all, but I do believe the passion and sincerity shine through when a writer accepts the gift, listens to the muse and lets the story flow the way it was meant to. That’s when the writer takes ownership of the gift and turns it back to the world in a form that all can appreciate.
For any writer out there—aspiring or otherwise—if you haven’t read Stephen King’s On Writing, I highly recommend it. Not only does he cover the passive voice, comma splice, misplaced modifier, etc., he talks about his journey into publication. How long he’s been writing, how he got started, how his ideas form and morph into a full blown story.
Waking up next to a beautiful golden-haired stranger isn’t the worst thing that has ever happened to Brodie Harper, but staying in a fake marriage in order to gain a new construction contract could very well be.
Savanna Morgan just wanted a way out of an engagement to a man she didn’t love. Marrying Brodie seemed liked the perfect answer at the time. Less perfect the next morning when she finds herself disowned by her father and flat broke. Now she must make it through the weekend. Monday they can get it all annulled and forget it ever happened.
The real problem may be keeping their hands off each other until then.
“On Monday, after our appointment, you’re leaving.”
“I have to go home,” she said quietly, turning away from him to stare into the postage-stamp sized back yard.
“But we have an agreement for the weekend. I think we should have some ground rules.”
“Good idea.” Savanna clapped her hands, then rubbed them together as if she were ready to get down to business. “Like what?”
“We only have two working bedrooms here,” Brodie said. “Mine and Nan’s. Do you mind sharing a room with me?”
Her pupils dilated, and he knew she was thinking about the scarlet room they had shared last night.
“My room has two beds,” he continued. “We can be like Lucy and Ricky.”
She smiled. “If it was good enough for the Ricardos, I’m sure I can handle it for a few days.”
“We may not so lucky at the Sullivan’s.”
Sobering, she nodded. “If there’s only one bed there, we can just take turns sleeping in it.”
“Fair enough.” Brodie said. “Now, as a married couple—especially at the ranch—we’ll be expected to act like a married couple.”
“Okay. But only around others. When we’re alone, we can act like we’re not married.”
“Correct. But sometimes…” He took a step closer to where she leaned against the porch railing. “Sometimes married people hold hands.”
He reached out and took her fingers into his own. Her skin was velvet soft and smelled so sweet, like the mountains after a rain.
“I—I don’t have a problem with that.”
“Sometimes married couples put their arms around each other.” He placed her hands behind his neck, then slid his arms around her waist.
“That’s okay,” she whispered. He watched as she swallowed hard.
“And sometimes married people kiss. Just a peck here and a peck there. Are you going to have a problem with that?”
“Huh-uh.” She shook her head.
“Maybe we should practice,” he rasped, bending his head close to hers.
“Maybe,” she repeated before he brushed his lips across hers once, then twice.
His intent had been the small, nearly chaste kiss of old married couple, but once he got close to Savanna, once he could smell her sweetness and taste her heady essence, he couldn’t stop himself.
He pulled her close to him, gathering handfuls of her tank top, securing her to him. Over and over he slanted his mouth across hers. Over and over, deeper and deeper, until her whimper brought him back.
He released her, his breath rasping in and out of his lungs in hard painful gasps.
She grasped the edge of the porch railing, looking as disturbed as he felt.
With demonstrations like that, they may not ever convince Blair and Nan their marriage was an accidental twist of fate, but they would surely convince Red Sullivan their passion was for real.
Brodie ran his fingers through his hair, just one more gesture to keep from reaching for Savanna again.
“There,” he managed to croak. “That wasn’t so bad, now was it?”
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