Jun 6, 2013

Guest Post: Meredith Towbin

Meredith Towbin is the author of Straightjacket.  Here is the synopsis of her book:

Eighteen-year-old Anna has lived her whole life in shame, losing herself in books to cope with crippling panic attacks triggered by her abusive parents. Forced into a psychiatric hospital, she can’t imagine a future that’s anything but bleak—until she meets Caleb, a gifted, 19-year-old artist who insists he’s an angel.

He swears his mission is to help Anna break free from her parents’ control and fulfill a destiny that she can only dream of. The doctors, however, are convinced that Caleb is delusional.

Anna doesn’t want to be that girl who’s in love with the crazy guy, but when she sees his stunning portraits of her and the way he risks everything to keep her safe, she can’t help but imagine a new future for both of them, filled with hope. But just when it seems they’ve created heaven on earth, Caleb’s past emerges full force, threatening to destroy their tiny, blissful world. And Anna has to decide if she should follow her heart, or if Caleb’s really as troubled as his doctors say…

I used to think that all writers were something like Henry David Thoreau. More specifically, I imagined that one day they would wake up and announce, “I’m going to write a really good book now,” and find themselves some nice little cabin by a beautiful lake. They would hole themselves up in there for a month or two, let the creative juices flow, and when they finally emerged, they’d be gripping the next Great American Novel in one hand and a nice cuppa joe in the other, pleased as punch with themselves.

Then I wrote a book. And it was so not like that.

This is what it’s really like to write a book:

1. You’re supposed to write about what you know, or at least that’s what I’ve been told, but what I know is boring and I want to know about other things. That’s where Google comes in. You find yourself searching things like, “What does it feel like to drown?” and “What’s the most humane way to kill a fish?” Unfortunately they’re kind of weird, crazy things. You hope that the police never have just cause to seize your computer and access your search history because then your biggest problem is no longer that you can’t find a in-depth-enough description of what bodies smell like when they’re burning.

2. I don’t have a cabin to write in. Heck, I don’t even have an office. I have a chair in my house. But I do a lot of my writing in random places. If I’m lucky, I can get myself to a bookstore café. A lot of the time I’m writing in a waiting room or sitting on bleachers during my kid’s soccer practice. As far as that last one goes, it’s super uncomfortable and super annoying because all these kids are screaming. But I power through nonetheless. Because I can’t drop everything and go to some random cabin. I kind of have responsibilities. Like keeping my kids alive.

3. Ah, writer’s block. It’s the worst. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. The absolute worst is the rare occasion when I have an entire day to devote to my writing, but I literally can’t think of anything to write. Well, that’s not exactly true. I can’t think of anything good to write. Sometimes the block just lasts a weekend. Sometimes a week or more. I try to keep my spirits up by being productive in other ways, which usually involves spending money at Costco or spending money at Target or spending money in any number of ways. Ugh. The. Worst.

So there you have it. Sorry to burst your bubble, but writing is very unglamorous. Unless you’re Jackie Collins. She seems like she has it going on.


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