On Turnips and Routines

Me: I added something to my novel that I love.

Secretly-Supportive-But-Very-Mischievous-Husband: [Tears eyes from computer screen.] What?

Me: In the second scene when Flick and Kyra eat dinner, he takes the turnips out of his bowl and  absentmindedly pushes them to Kyra, and then she EATS THE TURNIPS.

SSBVMH: I see.

Me: That adds like sooooooo much. Do you know like HOW MUCH that adds?

SSBVMH: That . . . Flick doesn't like turnips?

Me: Well, yes but what else?

SSBVMH: [shrugs]

Me: What????

SSBVMH: I got nothin’

Me: Well you OBVIOUSLY aren't cut out to be an author then. I'll explain it to you.

SSBVMH: Wait, no! Anything but that! I take it all back!

Me: Then what does it tell you?

SSBVMH: . . . . That Flick reeeaally doesn't like turnips?

Me: [stare]

SSBVMH: That Kyra does like turnips?

Me: OMG. It means like they have such a long history of eating together and know each other so well that they’ve worked out this seamless routine based on their food preferences.

SSBVMH: Oh. [Pause] Well it's not that good if you have to explain it.

Which is all a long way to say that blog posts have been scarce because I've been revising like an obsessed madwoman. But more soon, and a guest post on Monday from Bryan Thomas Schmidt.

What kind of conversations do you have with your family members about writing?

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  1. I never discuss a work in progress. All my wife knew about my last novel was that it was to be called Left and it involved a woman getting to know her father after his death by going through the things that were left in his flat after his death. And that was it until I handed her the finished manuscript. At the moment she’s doing a final edit on my fourth novel and so there’s a lot of discussion about word usage and continuity problems – “They’re talking about drink here but no one gave them a drink” – things easily fixed but there will be no change to the core story. I believe very strongly that a work of art should be the product on an individual artist. If I have a problem I think it out or wait it out. I don’t bring in a third party to do my work for me. Editing is a little different. Once I’ve finished sculpting I don’t mind who gives it a polish.

  2. I just had a conversation last night with my hubby that started like this, "I think I've figured out a really diabolical way to cover up a homicide, but I'm going to need a demolitions expert." He humors me, "Do you know one?" Me: "Why, yes, actually I do, now that I think of it. Thanks!"

    It wasn't until this morning that I wondered why he didn't question why I wanted to hide a murder. That's trust...that's really trust.

  3. I used to want to share every small detail that I was excited about with my family, but soon discovered that, for me, I have to wait until I'm done and just let them read the manuscript. They just don't get it :)

  4. I really only discuss writing with my patient hubby. Fortunately, he often knows something about the subject areas I'm delving into so his input is quite helpful!

  5. i was originally going to say that I'm also somewhat secretive when I'm working on a project, but I realized that I talk about my work a fair amount.

  6. I totally get you, Livia. I've had "turnip conversations" (as I'll call them, from now on :)
    Thanks for a great post!

  7. Jim – it's nice that your wife does the final edit for you. I don't think I could ever keep my works a secret for that long. I talk too much :-)

    Janet – that's the great thing about being a novelist. "I need to know that information for my novel, I swear!"

    Lillie - Haha, I guess we writers tend to nerd out sometimes :-)

    Ellie - it's nice when husbands can help with some expertise. My husband is an astronomer, but strangely enough he didn't take issue with one of my astronomy mistakes (the location and phase of the moon) it ended up that one of his colleagues, who beta read for me, pointed it out.

    Anju - it's hard not to talk about it, isn't it?

    Margo -- turnip conversations. I like the term :-)

  8. nobody wants to hear about my writing. when I used to try to tell people about it, I noticed "the look" as if they wanted to say, "Please God no, this guy is boring me to tears."

    So I don't pester people about my writing anymore.

    I like the blog post, however.

  9. Livia, it really is. I'm pretty sure no one is paying attention to me, though.

  10. This totally made me smile :)

    And I'm not sure how I feel about turnips... :)

  11. When I share with loved ones it usually goes like this...

    Divorce lawyer girlfriend: that's... kinda cynical, don't you think?

    Best friend: who the ef eats turnips these days?

    Parents: that's great. Did you find a real job yet?

  12. Oh, funny story! :-) I don't share my writing with anyone until it's done, I'm too sensitive and anxious!

  13. The thing with Flick and Kyra and the turnips? Meaning no disrespect to SSBVMH, but what a wonderful illustration of a high-context relationship! So much of what those two are like together is right there in those wordless actions.

    There are people I can talk about writing with, and people I can't. Some are bored senseless, some want to tell me how even if they don't write, they certainly could if they wanted to, and better than I'm doing it.

    A precious few are part of my web of writers who can speak to one another, but don't always have to, in which case they just silently pass the turnips along.