Thursday, August 09, 2007

The Curse of Being A Writer

Now, don't get me wrong--I love my job. It's one of two things I've ever wanted to do with my life. But there are times when it can really stink to be a writer.

Maybe this isn't true for everyone, but I can't just read for enjoyment anymore. I am always dissecting plot, keeping an eye on the author's style, and noticing typos. I wish there was a way for me to shut my writer's mind off for a little while and just enjoy a story or book.

Then there are television shows. Randolph Mantooth (Emergency, Loving) is one of my favorite television actors. He had a brief stint on the soap opera One Life to Live recently and I've found myself watching this soap again even though they killed Randy's character off weeks ago.

But I can't just sit there like a couch potato and go ga-ga over the gorgeous actors and get caught up in the storylines, because I'm trying to figure out how the writers are going to plot out the next episode.

There is an ongoing storyline between Detective John McBain and Dr. Marty Saybrooke. Marty thinks she killed Spencer Truman and John doesn't believe she did it. He is determined to prove her innocent, but he is having a heck of a time convincing Marty that she didn't stab Truman. What makes the situation even more interesting is that John cares for Marty.

Here is where things can get real good: Marty is convinced she is guilty of killing Truman--even though her memories are still vague and she doesn't remember actually stabbing him. But, since Marty believes that she did it, she plans to plead guilty at her arraignment. John is going to be escorting her to the court house.

More than a couple things could happen between John and Marty. John has been begging Marty to plead not guilty so that he has time to snuff out the true killer. And while pleading guilty will mean a separation from her only son, Cole, Marty is willing to do that if he is well taken care of. She is placing all her hopes on his future and seems to believe her life as she knows it is over because she must pay for what she did. But what if on the drive over to the court house John declared his feelings for Marty? Would that be enough to give her a reason to plead not guilty? Could John's admission make Marty look forward to the future and give her something to concentrate on other than paying for a murder she might not have committed?

That's one possibility, but how about if Cole figures out that John is in love with his mother and he is the one who lets the cat out of the bag right before Marty is arraigned? Will she believe Cole? Or will she think it is just a plot to get her to change her plea? Or, could Cole's announcement be just the thing to get Marty to think jail isn't where she wants to spend her free time?

Maybe it's neither of those two ideas. John McBain--from the short time I've watched him--isn't a guy who shows too much emotion. Would he be willing to make himself vunerable by admitting to Marty that he loves her? Or would he keep working on trying to find the real killer, but never say anything to Marty about his true feelings. He is a cop--first and foremost, and if his feelings became known it might jepardize his chances of ever finding the real killer.

And Cole, would he even have the wits about him to figure out that John is hot for his mom? I mean, he's got enough of his own crap going on--including testifying against his step-father who had blackmailed Marty into marrying him so that he wouldn't tell the police that Marty killed Truman and who also tried to convince Cole to kill the guy that his step-father was holding hostage in the storage room of their apartment building.

As I watch this story unfold, I wonder if the writers and I are on the same wavelength. I think about all the possibilities that could be played out in the next episode and I remember back to a time long ago, when I was a kid watching One Life to Live on a 19" color TV with rotary dials, and how none of these things plagued my mind. I just vegetated in front of the television set and enjoyed watching the actors portray these characters without any thought to the fact that there were writers behind the scenes making these characters act the way that they do.

As a writer, I'm lost to that forever. But I can still watch and learn how to weave great storylines with strong, believeable characters, who make desperate choices when put in desperate cirucmstances. I can see how other professional writers keep engaging the reader time and time again and strive for the same excellence in my own work. I will pay attention to how backstory is woven into the current action so that I don't bore my readers to tears when I need to spotlight some aspect of a character's past.

I guess it's really not a curse after all!

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Blogger Lynn said...

I have been watching this soap since 1969. I don't think Marty did it, but I don't think John is ready to tell her he cares yet. He is very slow in that kind of area!

12:14 PM  
Blogger Cheryl said...

Hey Lynn,

Great to see you back here again. I remember watching OLTL when Victor Lord died. So how long ago was that? LOL! I took a break from it for a while, but now I'm hooked.

I agree, I don't think Marty did it either, but hell might freeze over before John tells Marty how he feels.


5:17 PM  

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