I open my latest work in progress. My muse, Boo, is bouncing on the spare bed in my office. Her flouncy skirt looks like a parachute. My inner editor, Zelda, is looking over my shoulder with her glasses perched on her nose.
“John and Mary?” Zelda asks. “Not that old thing again."
“Why don’t you get us some coffee?” I suggest. “You know I work better with coffee. Maybe you could make a Starbucks run? I’d love a mochachino.”
Zelda eyes me suspiciously. She knows what I’m up to, but she’s a sucker for Starbucks. “Fine,” she says. She turns to stare at Boo, who has stopped bouncing. “I’ll be back.
Boo and I watch as she heads for the car and pulls out of the drive. Boo comes and sits on corner of the desk. “Okay, we’ve got to be quick. Where were we?”
“That scene where John tells Mary that he loves her.”
|Coffee Couple clipart by Johnny Automatic.|
“Oh yeah. I LOVE that part.” Boo gets up and starts pacing. “It’s a snowy day and the snow is like frosting on the cars turning them into giant cupcakes. And there’s this coffee shop and the inside of the shop smells like fresh baked bread the minute you pull it out of the oven. It’s warm and you could imagine that butter would melt on the bread into all the nooks and crannies. And John has this big goofy grin and he’s eating a poppy bagel and the seeds are caught in his teeth so it looks like some of them are missing. And Mary, she’s got wet feet because she put on the fashion boots instead of the waterproof ones she should have worn but she doesn’t care because John’s got that goofy grin and his hands are all nervous and she all ready knows what he’s going to say and his words come out like warm butter and then they’re both smiling all goofy at each other.”
“Okay, okay.” I say, laughing. I’ve written it all down. ”I think that will do for now.”
“But what about the part where they go outside and it’s cold and he gives her his gloves because she forgot hers and they’re too big?”
“I won’t forget that part, I promise.”
Zelda’s appears with a tray of coffee. Boo grabs hers, sticks out her tongue at Zelda and takes a sip. “I saw that,” Zelda says, but she’s already put her cup on the desk and pulled up a chair. She slips on her glasses and reads what I’ve written.
“What do you think?” I ask.
“She hates punctuation. But she does have a good sense of description, I’ll give her that.” Zelda sighs and sips her coffee. “Okay, let’s see what we can do with this. Maybe we should start with the weather.”
“The snow fell all through the day, covering sidewalks, clogging streets and frosting the cars like confectionary treats.”
“You’re determined to keep the cake reference.”
“Let’s just. For now.” I see Boo from the corner of my eye, making horns at Zelda’s back. I shoot her a warning look and she stops.
Zelda nods. “For now. Then we’ll move inside the bakery. John and Mary at the table.” She slides her glasses down her nose. “John and Mary? Really? It’s not very original.”
“Good point.” I turn to Boo. “Think we should change their names?”
Boo considers for a moment. “I like Justin and Alexandra.”
“Okay, Justin and Alexandra it is.” I change the names.
And so it goes, the one step, two step of writing. First step, I write it all down: sight smell, touch, what was said, what was done. Then, I clean it all up. I make sure it all makes sense, that it has structure and is well crafted. Back and forth I go, between the creative muse and the critical editor. Back and forth, until we have something we can all agree on.
Romantic Comedies by Ute Carbone: