Even though I had the heat on two weeks ago, it’s summer. And you know what that means! It’s time to wear the white shoes and linen shirts—and to buckle down and finish writing my next novel.
Believe it or not, the two are related.
Just days ago I was ironing a pale blue, linen, button down shirt, one of my favorites, as I was getting ready to meet friends for dinner. I flipped the shirt to iron the back, and smoothed the collar to iron it flat, then back to the front to erase the creases made during the flip. Then I did it again. And again.. Then I wondered, on a thirty minute drive to a restaurant, how was the shirt not going to remain unwrinkled?
And then I remembered, linen is supposed to wrinkle.
As I continued ironing (because I wasn’t quite convinced) I thought about writing fiction, and how it’s not much different than ironing linen.
Though we want our writing to be smooth and pristine, it’s supposed to have some wrinkles. Wrinkles add personality – make it natural. The way it’s supposed to be. Wrinkles – even in our faces — are signs of who and what we are and where we’ve been. Wrinkles in writing can be anything from quirks in the method of getting words on the Word doc, to the idiosyncrasies in our characters. Often we aspire to writing that reads a certain way that adheres to our perception of perfect, when really, readers don’t want perfect. They want good stories written well. Nothing is perfect. No book. No author. No linen shirt. It’s not that we shouldn’t do our best – but a little wrinkling means we’re embracing the reality of writing, and life. That’ we’re not too uptight to live and write fully – to just be ourselves. And that’s what makes our stories and our writing perfectly imperfect.
It would be unnatural to arrive at dinner in an starched-to-the-nines, unwrinkled linen shirt. I would worry all night about how I sat, stood, and moved. Where’s the fun in that? And how boring my writing experiences and my stories would be without the the personal wrinkles of my life.
And where’s the fun in that?
Amy Sue Nathan is the author of THE GLASS WIVES published in May by St. Martin’s Griffin, who really wishes her only wrinkles were on her shirts.