Thursday, January 16, 2014

When a Stranger Reads Your Plot Notes

Okay, can we just take a second to bask in the death rays of my awkward afternoon experience?

Let me start by saying that, if you were not yet aware, I have three children ages 4, 3, and 1. I'm not completely sane as a result. In the winter, I'm even less mentally sound because we live in Idaho where there is a perpetual 3 foot layer of snow on the ground (no exaggeration), and the kids can't really go outside. So in desperation, I took them to a fast food joint that had an indoor playground, and I decided to let them frolic.

I also took my writing notebook with me to map out the plot of a Historical Romance I am 30,000 words into right now. I needed to get it all down on paper. And for you to fully understand the awkwardness of this situation, I need to give you a visual of what my note taking is like. Do you remember in elementary school when you learned that spider brainstorm technique? The one where you make a bubble and then draw lines coming out from it and branching off with all your random thoughts?

Yeah, I still use that.

So there I sat, working on my plot with giant words like, "ball," and "jealousy triangle?" and "bedroom scene" (get your mind out of the gutter, it's just a scene IN a bedroom) scrawled all over the paper. Then my 4 and 3 year old simultaneously had to use the "potty," so I gathered my flock and herded them into the bathroom.

When I got back, people, I came upon a horrifying scene. Maybe the lady with the obnoxious twin four-year-olds was bored. Maybe she has a rare compulsion disorder that makes her look at other people's private things...I don't know. All I know is this lady was BLATANTLY staring at my page of notes. Like walked over to my table and leaned over to read it while my kid was taking a whizz. And her lip had this curl to it, like what she was reading was totally bizarre and repulsive to her.

 When the shrieks of my children alerted her to my approach, it was too late. We even locked eyes. It was this suspended moment of terrifying awkwardness, where I didn't know what to do with myself, and I just stared in dawning realization that she had gotten a significant eye full of plot notes that read sappy things like, "her only friend and abigail leaves, leaving her empty and alone," which taken out of context sound really, awfully sickening and gooey. And then she scampered off to munch on her fries.

Who is this lady?! Who does that?!Why did she look so weirded out?? I should have had the guts to confront her about it, but in reality I'm a non-confrontational kind of person, and I couldn't stomach any more mortifying scenes with this woman who used fry sauce instead of ketchup, and calm as you please, spied on other people's novel scratch notes.

I'm emotionally scarred. As a writer. I might never recover.

This is the kind of crap that makes a writer want to bury their ideas in the backyard and never come back to them. Sigh. WHY nosy housewife? She kept shooting me these looks while our kids played, too. Like I was some kind of psychopath. I wanted to wave my fist and shout, "I'm writing a romance novel! Is that okay with you?"


Anyway, how has your week been?


  1. Wow. That was EXTREMELY rude. Was she raised by wolves? Nothing gives you the right to read other peoples' notes. I'm outraged on your behalf.

    And projects in their infancy tend to look like...infancy. Only someone who doesn't have the guts to go out and create something on their own would dare to judge an unfinished work, or even worse, something that is just the seed of an idea.

    Nurture that incredible, witty, can't-put-it-down story!! You can do something she can't, no matter how many papers she snoops on.

  2. How terrible! She'll be in one of your stories someday...

    1. Yes, she might have to cameo as a villain!

  3. How rude! My mother once "straightened" my desk once and read through all my plot notes... and then she wanted to offer her suggestions. I haven't got up the nerve to return to that particular novel yet.

    1. NO! Oh dear, that is just terrible! I don't blame you at all. It's horrible enough to think that someone was peeking at your notes--worse yet if they offer "advice." You have my sympathies!