by Sofie Kelly (aka Darlene Ryan)
Author of the Magical Cats Mysteries
Writers work alone. We create worlds. We kill. We make love spark and desire simmer. We live, much of the time, in a make-believe world with people who don’t exist outside of our heads and our laptops, and the real people in our lives shake their heads and wonder if we’re deluded. Or delusional.
But for the last week I’ve been taking an online writing workshop, and I’ve been surrounded by a community that doesn’t think it’s odd to talk out loud about imaginary people. Or to them. No one asks, “Why don’t you write something like Twilight?”
Several years ago I sat with another group of writers and heard poet and novelist Sue Goyette say, “We are your tribe. We understand.”
I have found my tribe again in an electronic gathering of like-minded people. In our online class we get giddy over a plot twist or a well-crafted paragraph. We throw ideas at one another, posts crossing in the ether until a suggestion becomes a few words from one person, a few from someone else. “Turn the princess into a vampire witch on a quest to find Elvis in the lost city of Atlantis.”
“Send me your address, I found that book we were talking about yesterday,” someone emails. No one ever complains, “Mom, we have no toilet paper again.”
Writers write and when we aren’t writing, some part of us is always watching, always plotting, no matter what’s happening to us or around us. No matter how sad, how silly, how bizarre, a little voice in our heads is thinking, How can I use this? We are crows. We see shiny pieces of other people’s lives and we reach for them. In our real lives we hear, “Don’t put this in a book.” In class a dozen people type, “You have to write about this.”
This is my tribe. People who sit too long at stop signs searching for the right words to describe a sliver of crescent moon that seems to be teetering on a roof edge. People who fall on a patch of sidewalk ice and ask the paramedic for a pencil and a piece of paper to scribble down the sensations.
In the real world this past week, dust bunnies have met, courted and spawned babies. In the real world there are enough crumbs under the kitchen table to make a sandwich. And in a few more days we’ll be ready to go back to the real world, to hunt down the dust bunnies and sweep up the crumbs. We’re part of the tribe now and we’ll take that sense of community, of encouragement back to the real world. Because the real world is where all the stories begin. Stories about love, hate, despair and what really happened to a dozen double rolls of toilet paper.
Sofie Kelly is the pseudonym of young adult writer and mixed-media artist, Darlene Ryan. Her first Magical Cats Mystery, Curiosity Thrilled the Cat, landed on the N.Y. Times bestseller list. Sofie/Darlene lives on the east coast with her husband and daughter. In her spare time she practices Wu style tai chi and likes to prowl around thrift stores. And she admits to having a small crush on Matt Lauer. Visit her website at www.sofiekelly.com.