I'm writing my first novel. It's made for some of the greatest joy - and greatest hell - I've known. The days when I actually sit down, get in the flow, and create some hilarious dialogue? Those are heady moments. Other days are spent popping in and out of my chair, clinging to every distraction I can possibly justify. It turns out I can justify a lot
- and my apartment is usually sparkling clean in testament to this fact.
But, in the end, I keep writing. And, every once in awhile, I'm rewarded with a burst of creativity or an answer to a pesky plot problem. The great thing about the craft is, as much as it is in life, these things happen when we least expect them. Such was the setting when my husband and I randomly dropped into Clyde Common (a restaurant in downtown Portland) before seeing a film at the Living Room Theater. I had recently penned a scene where one of my characters is dining at Clyde Common. She gets in a fight with her husband and runs off to the bathroom to cry. (Good thing it's fiction - I had a lovely time there with my honey!) I had my character slipping into a stall to bawl, subsequently sitting in pee and having to use the hand dryer to dry the back of her pants. (Did I mention I'm penning a best seller?) While sipping a cocktail with Larry I suddenly realized, "Oh my gosh, I'm here! I should actually check out what the bathroom looks like." I excused myself, in the name of research. Imagine my surprise when I discovered the ladies room was exactly the opposite of how I'd described it. There are no stalls; it's two gender neutral rooms. Pop in, lock the door and have at it! And when it's time to wash your hands you'll find paper towels. Not a hand dryer in sight.
My point? I didn't research, I assumed. I picked a popular Portland eatery, checked out their menu online and wove it into my novel. One of the hooks in my plot is the backdrop of the city of Portland. There are generous doses of history, people, places and things. I want those things to feel as vivid to the reader as they are to me when I experience them in real life. I want someone to come here, based on reading my novel. I want them to think, "Oh, that's where Amy had that crazy fight with James. That restaurant sounded cool. Let's go check it out." And, when my reader has to pee, I want them to have an authentic experience. I won't promise you a hand dryer when I'm really schilling paper towels. Even the tiniest detail will be as true as I can make it. I promise to research every bathroom in the Northwest if it means I get it right. And it's what I hope will make my sweet little Chick Lit novel great.