Something in the Water
I think Author's Shower Appreciation Day may have been sometime last week. Over just a few hours, four different writer types I follow tweeted about SRS BSNS plot issues being solved by hot water to the back of the head. Showers, man. They'll expand your mind even better than LSD.
And sometimes, you'll seem just as crazy. Or maybe that's just me.
One night about a year ago, I burst out of the bathroom triumphantly and pointed at Ian. I blurted out something like "Baxter is a giant space oyster!*" I jumped up and down. I may have clapped my hands.
Ian's face reflected the abject horror that must come standard when being the primary sounding board for any creative type. He didn't even know I was working on the book again; how could he? I had only right then, during that shower, started thinking about it after months and months of it collecting dust in my drafts folder. Yet there I was, looking at him with indignant expectation. How could he not see how important this was? Maybe he didn't hear me the first time. I had to try again. Maybe I should say it louder.
Excitement made my tongue stop working, so I wasn't able to say much more than "BAXTER! OYSTER!" For several excruciating moments, Ian was desperately trying to process my exclamations without any sort of context. He searched his memory for a Baxter in our social circle and came up empty. Either I have amnesia or she's a fricking nutcase,, he seemed to be thinking.
When I was finally able to spit out the name of the novel, his face was transformed by relief. Oh good, his face was saying, it's totally her.
That night Ian stayed up with me as I talked through my SRS BSNS plot revelation. I could not have been more elated. A year earlier I had abandoned the manuscript because a major detail made the entire plot repulsive. I didn't want to read a book about that, let alone write one. But when I realized that Baxter was actually a space oyster, the entire story opened up and all of a sudden I had a book that I absolutely had to write.
That kind of stuff happens a lot to Ian. He'll be sitting on the couch minding his own nerdy business and I'll come in and say a random string of words and look at him questioningly. "What do you think?" I'll ask, all ready to be crestfallen. And he'll blink ten or twenty times, then calmly ask me to repeat whatever the hell it was that I just said.
If I've been in the shower enough, whatever I've said will wind up being SRS BSNS. I'll find the scene or story or whatever it is that I need to write, and not just because I had the back of my head pelted with scalding water. It'll be because I was completely alone and utterly naked. Alone enough to know that I can't actually ask Ian or you or anyone else what would make my story complete. Naked enough to know I can only go inside for those answers; that I am the only one who will actually know when they had been found.
Damn. That sounds like a real pain in the ass.
Well, at least the scalding water is a pretty good bonus in the meantime.
*Not an actual quotation. There are neither Baxters nor oysters in the novel in question.