Observations from the Ottoman: Writing is like beach flick



By Stacey Graham

Writing is like A 1950s teenage beach flick, except with more flirting and less friendly dolphins.

Let me explain:

1. You arrive at the beach loaded down with stuff you’ve been collecting from writing class, workshops, and third grade writing competitions about you and a bear (yes, that was me and I freakin’ WON that thing). You set up your tiny spot on the beach and settle down with your glaringly bare notebook or just stare at the waves and dream about the huge royalty checks in the mail.

2. Suddenly, you spy a group of groovy writer chicks and dudes down the beach. They’re having fun, frolicking in the waves, and want you to join them. Look! They speak Elvish! Some of them have funky hand signals but you’ll get the hang of it soon enough and you’re cuddling up to a brand new idea torn from the angst of your soul under a blanket and a few too many tequila shots and you’re in love. Really, truly, heartbreakingly in love.

3. After feverish notetaking and a few breathless moments after you figure out how the story will reach its peak, you finally get it all down on paper and are ready to share it with your new friends. Some love it to tiny pieces and tell you you’re a genius. Others tell you it will never work and you need a real job. But a few brave writers step up and tell you to look out for the dolphins pooping all over your manuscript and how to fix it. They help you reign in the fluffy bits and write tight.

4. Drama rears its ugly head like the girl you accidentally knocked into the water as you start to send it out to agents and editors. The dolphins are back and they’re pissed. Revise! Retreat!

5. Go back to the beach, eat some toasted marshmallows and re-write, my friend. Begone, dolphins!

6. Submit, rinse, and repeat until acceptance! Bongos are going crazy in the background and someone has busted out the limbo stick.

7. Look forward to the bigger dance party with fruity drinks with umbrellas in them.

8. While you’re boogying with your latest idea, don’t be surprised to see another hot piece of inspiration at the bar. You’ll get to him in a minute–

9. Go back to the beach the next year with your book in hand and smile at the new writer settling down next to you. When asked, advise them to look out for dolphins and wink at the camera.


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