Some days I just feel lazy. I don’t want to do laundry, I don’t want to vacuum, and I don’t want to wash the dishes. I don’t even want to blog. (Just kidding! Well, usually.) But these are things that need to get done, so putting them off doesn’t accomplish anything except a backlog of chores that are suddenly much more daunting than they would have been if I’d just given each one the 15 minutes they needed.
(Okay, blogging takes longer than 15 minutes. But you get the point.)
Laziness applies to writing, too. And that’s been on my mind lately. In several books, I have read about characters with “olive colored skin” or “skin so black it was blue.” I have never seen such people in my life — have you? — but I read those phrases so often that I almost forget they’re not real.
Olives, for reference (image found via Google)
Last night my crit partner Stephanie pointed out that I had committed a similar error. I wrote a scene in which my main character was crying but didn’t know it. Stephanie said, “Have you ever cried without knowing it? How could you not know?”
I put up a weak protest, but I knew she was right. I mean, when I cry, I CRY. And even before the tears come out, I get that sharp stinging in my nose, and my whole face tightens with emotion. Not exactly the kinds of things you can not notice.
So why had I written that? Because I was being lazy. It’s been done so many times in so many books that it has become a sort of shortcut, a signal for the reader to feel a certain way.
After some emotional distance (and a good night’s sleep) I know I need to rework that scene. I can’t be lazy. I won’t. Because my characters and my story deserve better than that. Just like my clothes, my carpet, my dishes, and my blog do.
More importantly, I actually feel good when I’m not lazy, when I get things done, when I weave words in my own original way. So, next time you catching me trying to put things off or take the easy way out, please call me on it. Remind me that I’m only cheating myself of the satisfaction I get from working hard. And if I still don’t listen, I give you permission to pinch me until my skin turns so black it’s blue, or olive colored, or whatever.