By Nichole Giles
Every so often, in celebration for a birthday or a book publication, my critique group goes to dinner. Of course, this requires going to a public restaurant, where the staff—and often the people at other tables—can hear our conversations. Granted, we don’t read pages in these places. It’s too hard to hear, and there are too many distractions. But we do discuss our books, characters, plot, setting…as well as those of books we’ve read. We also tend to discuss authors we know or whose work we like or don’t like, and why.
Those are the things writers’ talk about. But this past week, we had a discussion that went something like this:
Keith: “I have a question.”
Me: “Okay, ask.”
Keith: “Why didn’t Val tell the dragons that Abby was really Princess Raina?”
Me: “I’m not sure he’s positive that she is the Princess yet.”
Keith: “You’re not sure?”
Me: “No, I guess I’ll have to ask him.”
During the course of the conversation, it occurred to me to wonder what the waiter—and the people at the surrounding tables—were getting from our strange conversational turns. At some point, the subject moved on to other things.
Tristi: “When I went to dinner with another critique group, we were discussing this situation wondering if so-and-so actually lives here on Earth, or another planet. And another person was telling us about the hundred and eighty-year-old man who lives in her shower…”
Heather: “I’m trying to decide if I should focus my energy on Lily, who works all night stocking toys so she can pay the bills, or Laura and her mistaken identity issues which got her arrested.”
Tristi: “Does there have to be a real house in a canyon if my characters are fiction?”
Keith: “I don’t know of any houses in that area except above the lake.”
Me: “But if it’s fiction, you can always go back in time and hire builders to build a house in that canyon so it will be there when you need it thirty years later.”
Keith: “I can’t help it. I think I’m turning into a romance writer.” (I fear this comes from hanging out with all us women, Keith!)
Now, not to sound overly interesting or…not, but if you were a waiter, wouldn’t you wonder? And yet, the poor guy (whose very interesting name was Kimo—I’ve got to use that one somewhere…) kept a passive face as he continued to keep the water glasses full and my Dr. Pepper fresh.
Talk about doing your job. And yet, the writer in me can’t help but wonder what kind of discussions were going on in the kitchen every time he left our table.
Yeah, we writers are an interesting bunch. We can’t help it, though. Everything we see is fodder for new material. I love being a writer.