Posted on 06 January 2012

Last night, I attended a benefit featuring Thrity Umrigar, who read from her new book, The World We Found. The event was held at my favorite local wine shop, Rozi’s, and proceeds benefited my local library. Talk about a trifecta — stunning writing, free-flowing wine, and library love. It doesn’t get any better than this, you guys.

I didn’t have much time between getting home from work and leaving for the event, so I felt kind of rushed, like I was forgetting something. Turns out that “something” was a notepad, which any writer worth her salt should have on her at all times. Sure enough, after about three glasses of wine, I decided I simply must jot down the many interesting things Thrity had to say in her Q&A.

So what did I do? I wrote all over a pack of Extra sugarfree gum. That’s right. I am nothing if not resourceful.

Of course, in the light of day, not all of my wine-fueled scribbles make sense. But I have a few fun tidbits, like when Thrity shared that no one in her family engaged her in a discussion about her memoir. Or how, when she’s asked at events what she’s been reading lately, she sometimes draws a blank. (I felt relieved to hear this. I’m constantly reading, and I try to keep a list of the books I recently read, but I too go blank when confronted by this question. Bizarre.)

Her following (paraphrased) comments were my favorites:

Don’t worry about plot. Worry about characters, and the rest will follow.
Writing a book takes some sort of sacrifice. If you write a book without sacrificing anything, it will show.

So now I want to hear from you — what are you sacrificing to write your book?

17 responses to Sacrifice

  • Teri says:

    I’d say I’m sacrificing my social life and husband, but that’s just a little bit of the truth. I’m ready to shut down the social life and burrow in, so that’s not been bad (so far). And thankfully my husband is a good egg about this writing business — which has to be tough when I don’t hear him when he’s talking because I’m thinking about my book, and when I insist on household radio silence while I’m working.

    Even last night, as we drove home from the Books Inc event, he started to tell me a story and I had to stop him, “I’m sorry, but I’ve got a whole paragraph in my head right now and I’m about to lose it. Can this wait till we get home and I have paper to write on?”

    I guess I’m also sacrificing travel, because I keep turning down chances for trips … that’s painful. And since I’m writing memoir, I guess I’m also sacrificing a whopping load of dignity, but as Tobias Wolff said, “Take no care for your dignity.” And I believe him.

    • Teri says:

      I’ve also given up some nighttime TV, but it’s funny how I haven’t missed it, not one iota.

      What I’m not, never ever, giving up is sports on TV. Nope, no can do.

    • Your story about your husband reminds me that at the event last night, when I was running out of room on the gum pack, Peter handed me a Chipotle receipt receipt to write on. It sure is nice to have him around to hand me various things to write on (usually from Chipotle, it seems…).

      I most often have sacrificed sleep, exercise (but not anymore, hopefully) and social time for my writing.

  • Paul says:

    “wine-fueled scribbles” – nice turn of phrase!

    I’m certainly sacrificing a lot of hours and a lot of sleep working on my stories. I’m also sacrificing, oddly, a lot of control. I am following my stories where they seem to insist despite what I had intended to write at the outset. Bits and pieces of my experience and my observations make their way into my characters, which is a type of sacrifice since I otherwise hold my personal cards close to my chest. In fact, keeping a blog, which I have come to see as essential to staying motivated, is a true breach of my desired privacy, so there’s a sacrifice too.

    Her words deserve a lot of thought. Thanks for sharing them with me.

    • I love following stories and seeing where they end up. I just started writing a new story and am actually concerned that I already have a sense of the ending. I’m hoping something surprises me along the way.

  • Lyn Hawks says:

    Hi, Laura,

    I know the feeling–any scrap of stuff will do for note-taking because otherwise, it may never come back to me. One of my short stories is being built off a mountain of scraps–receipts and the cardboard panel you rip out of a Kleenex ox and whatever else I can find on my 40-minute commute. So aside from sacrificing safety, I know like others here I’ve given up time with friends and exercise. My cat resents my writing time and let’s me know his displeasure by making noise, pawing at me, etc. So I also sacrifice my back and body to write on a chair orsofa so he gets my lap.

    Congrats on your collection. I’m getting a copy.


    • I try not to think too much about the ergonomic challenges I’m giving my body. I’m still young and things haven’t caught up with me yet, but with all the time I spend sitting and typing, I’ll be lucky if I don’t end up taking a trip along the good ol’ carpal tunnel.

      And yes, I also sacrifice time with my cats to write…sometimes I try to go easy on my blatant cat lady references, even though they’re always there.

  • Lyn Hawks says:

    Apparently I and my haste + the iTouch autocorrect sacrifice grammar and mechanics! :-) that would be Kleenex box and “lets”…

  • Tricia says:

    I’ll add to the votes for sleep. But next time I lie awake with my brain in knots, it’ll be nice to think of all the other writers out there keeping me company

  • lisahgolden says:

    I can’t honestly say that I’m sacrificing anything at the moment. That has to change obviously because I’m not getting anything done at the moment.

  • I’m a newbie to this writing but I think there’s a lot of truth in what she says. If I’m plugged in to my characters, the plot seems to unfold organically. It’s the part of the writing I find so magical.

    P.S. Just ordered my copy of Living Arrangements. Whoo-hoo.

  • Lyra says:

    I love that, “Don’t worry about plot.”
    Hmmmm…the writing gig has me sacrificing sleep for the major scale, and my dear husband on a minor scale. Although I’m beginning to think that my husband has become the most neglected person in my life now that I write that.

    Sometimes it takes a friend asking the question for me to see what’s right in front of me. Thank you.

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