Crime of Passion

Writers, especially snooty ones, often thump their chest and testify to all who will listen their all-consuming passion for the written word. Specifically, their written words. But I never quite believe them because, in case you haven’t heard me whine about it before, writing is HARD.

However, if given the choice between writing and a root canal, I will always choose writing. I will also choose writing over a visit to the DMV, weeding my garden, or putting gas in my car.

I prefer saving my passion for uncomplicated and undemanding activities: Netflix binges, wine tastings, Skyping with my far-flung children, Skyping with my far-flung children while wine tasting, asking Nala the WonderDog ridiculous questions and watching her head cock as she considers each one carefully. Nala cocking her head (“Do you want to go to the moon?” … “Is that squirrel your boyfriend?” … “Will you go to the grocery store for me?”) I can do that all freakin’ day.

Effortless.

Unfortunately, sometimes one must succumb to the dentist, the DMV, the weeds, and the gas station. And like it or not, writers must write. Every day, for most of us, so that word-thingy muscle doesn’t get … you know, that thing that happens when you don’t go to the gym … ah, yes, flabby.

But you might be asking, and rightly so, why then do you write novels, Becky?

Because — and please don’t tell or everyone will start doing it — writing novels is also fun. After the eyeball bleeding, the garment rending, the teeth gnashing, and the complete destruction of my self-esteem, that is.

I kid. Kinda.

When it’s over, there is great satisfaction from having written the perfect sentence, scene, or series. That perfection, unfortunately, is the sticking point.

My husband and I both took piano lessons as kids, but like much of humanity, didn’t stick with it. We realized we wanted to play the piano, not learn to play the piano. A fine distinction, but an important one. We even bought a piano when our kids were young, and would stare at it wistfully, wishing we could bang out a rousing Bumblebee Rag, rather than simply plink and plunk at Heart and Soul.

Passion for writing for me comes in the having written. I haven’t yet figured out any other way to get to that point other than using my mantra, BICHOK — butt in chair, hands on keyboard. But believe me, I’ve tried. I simply don’t think it can be done.

Alas, that is the true crime of passion.

How hard do you work at your passion?

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Author: Becky Clark

I write funny cozy mysteries and spend my free time attempting to rid my clothing of dog hair, making purses and things out of rescued books, and plastering silly sayings on t-shirts and other products you simply can't live without.

12 thoughts on “Crime of Passion”

  1. This is fabulous, and true. I felt the same way about the piano (and the guitar). Can you imagine the reprieve when it was discovered I was tone deaf! Often the passion is for the finished product, but then there are those moments when it all comes together and there is no distance between story and keyboard…priceless.

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  2. Ha, wasn’t there a famous writer who said she hates to write but loves having written? But I agree with Kait. While the act of writing is sometimes (frequently) painful, there are moments where there is true magic between brain, fingers, and keyboard. And yes, looking at the finished product is wonderful. With 2 in high school (and it is a lie that kids required less effort as they get older – they just require different effort), I cherish my hour every day at lunch where I can tune out the world and be with my imaginary friends.

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  3. Ah, The Zone, Kait. That wonderful, magical place. I wish I could live there.

    And you’re absolutely right about kids, Mary. Bigger kids, bigger problems. Certainly nice to escape to your happy place every day!

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  4. I used to take piano lessons, too! (I hesitate to use the word ‘play’ since I have no musical talent whatsoever). For me, passion comes down to this: I feel better when I’m writing than when I’m not. I can’t imagine giving it up. Yes, it involves A LOT of hard work and I don’t always enjoy every second of it, but if it were easy, everyone would do it, right? 🙂

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  5. Great post! I’m feeling guilty about the harp now. I have a gorgeous Italian concert grand in my bedroom that I played faithfully for the first seven years or so I had it. I love this harp so much that I bought this house just so I could buy this harp and put it in that corner. Then, stuff happens: dog illness, sad about dog dying, next dog gets sick…. Writing doesn’t get in the way because they’re two different things. So now with the one very sick, elderly dog living out her last days to care for, exercise, harp, painting, housecleaning are all being neglected. All that I do is go to work and write in the mornings. Even on days when I feel like I’m doing little more than smearing my crib with written word, I write because no one reads an unwritten book.

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  6. Great post, Becky! I think the proof of the passion aspect is in the fact that we do it around/within/besides all of the other things we do (work at other jobs full-time, parent, etc.). Things which, on their own, are already enough to overwhelm a person and would require vacations and relaxing to recover from. But then, on TOP of those things, we write, too…

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  7. Great timing! Usually when I sit down to write (and go through whatever little rituals I go through) I write. Yesterday it was “Oh, I need to set up email in my new phone”, then I’d get back to my manuscript and it was “Oh, I need to put this on the order form before I forget it”, followed by a pressing need to fold laundry. I finally figured out why. I was sneaking closer to a HARD scene to write.

    PS: I took piano lessons too. There’s a baby grand in my living room that I play when I’m all alone, which isn’t too often. And then only if I think of it.

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  8. Truth, Becky. Truth! Satisfaction for me comes in the finishing, but the incremental finishing–finishing that great scene or chapter–as much as finishing the whole. Thank goodness! I don’t work nearly hard enough on my writing yet. I still find myself falling prey to having to earn writing time: if I finish my chores, help with homework, re-organize the pantry, pay the bills, then I deserve writing time. Except by then, I’m too tired to be creative. I’m working on it!

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  9. I’m passionate about story and building characters and plot, but sitting my butt down write is hard. Especially, as I don’t get a moment to myself to do this. I’m always tense when I write, waiting for the interruption. Makes for an anxiety-ridden passion.

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  10. AH yes, the piano. I have one as well, and both children took lessons. I took lessons as a child as did my husband, Larry. One child “plays,” the rest of us took lessons. We all benefited from the lessons, no matter our proficiency.

    My passion is not writing but reading what others, you all, have written. I read every day, starting with the newspaper. (Oh, and you do not want to be on the receiving end of the phone call if my paper is missing, wet, or late; trust me.) I read the little “back page” stories in the paper, not just the front page. Those little stories really show the character, both good and bad, of the people who live around me. I sometimes look at a story and try to imagine how some of you would incorporate that event into a mystery book. Do you writers do that?

    I make time for reading when many people just give reading lip service. I attended a community meeting and happened to be sitting at the table with city officials (Next time I will change tables.) One official asked me what I was going to do with some time off that I had coming up. I, of course replied that I would be reading. He replied, “People always say that and no one does it.” “Ha,” I answered. “I have books all picked out to read.” He added “People always say that, but never do it. I have a shelf full of books, but I never read them.” Needless to say, I DID read my books, and the next time I happened to see this official at (yet another) meeting, I reminded him that SOME people are passionate about reading and do make reading a priority.
    You all write; I read. We go well together.

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  11. Glad to know I’m not the only one who neglected her musical career before it even began!

    It is a struggle to sit your heinie in the chair to write. For those of you with little kids, one thing I taught mine was if my door was closed, they could only knock if something was bleeding, barfing, or burning. It didn’t take much for them to get it. Of course, they weren’t infants or anything. I’m not completely neglectful. (Just with the piano.) Although when they were infants, I always wrote during naptime. Never felt the urge to do dishes or fold laundry during writing time, except, as Peg pointed out, when I was struggled over some roadblock.

    And I like the idea of incremental finishing, Pamela. Celebrate all success, no matter how small!

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  12. Ray Bradbury once told me, when I had the pleasure of meeting him at a signing, that he’d never worked a day in his life. And I agree. Writing is hard, but it’s not “work.” Is that what makes it a passion? When Life intervenes and prevents me from writing, I start to twitch after about a week.

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