Dangerous conversations, or talking about my book

Do you know someone who is really passionate about something?  You know, that person who, once they get started talking about their particular favorite topic, you might as well get comfortable because getting them to stop is the hard part?  I know three people like that, and we’re all related: my dad, my sister, and me.

My dad’s passions?  Floor safety (slip/fall prevention) and new cleaning technologies. I once heard him gush about a new robot he was testing that tests the slip coefficient of a floor, something that combines both of these things.  I love listening to him, but I often get lost in the conversation.  My sister’s topic of choice?  Choreography.  This means any choreography, not just her own.  She’ll describe dance moves from musicals, imitate performances, and critique movie choreography.  Fortunately I share some of this language, as I danced and choreographed in college.

I have three or four passions that I get excited about, and today I got to talk about one of them: birds.  I was invited by my cousin to be a guest speaker for his Ornithology class, and it was fun to talk about birds and birding and falconry and birds as pets and – you get the idea.  The other fun thing about visiting my cousin is that we both have a wildlife science background, so we speak the same language.  I don’t have to explain or define the big science words I like to use when I can.  (Of course, when my mom and sister and his wife were around, we were nice enough to define the terms for them.  Lingo and jargon can be very excluding in a conversation.)

Another major passion of mine is writing.  If you’ve been a reader of this blog for a while, you probably realize that I can talk excessively about my writing and my stories.  I’ve created a standard answer when people ask about my book; I tell them it’s a fantasy novel, light on magic and with all human characters.  If they ask for more detail, I always give them fair warning.  When I get started talking about my story, I might be difficult to stop.  Just be prepared to get way more detail than you wanted.


8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. laurastanfill
    Apr 05, 2011 @ 09:59:50

    Nice post about passions! Writing and knitting always get me chatting, but I have to do some bird research for my new novel, so I expect to be getting excited about random canary facts soon.


  2. laurastanfill
    Apr 08, 2011 @ 10:03:43

    Do you find when you talk about your story (with a willing listener!) that there’s more energy present when you return to the page? Just curious because I’ve been thinking about this idea. I kept my novel process quiet until the past six months (when I started my new book) and now I find talking about plot, or research, or whatever, helps me crystallize where I’m going. It’s turning into a better story because of the conversations I’ve had with other folks. Even the act of answering “what’s it about?” has helped me get clearer on what I’m trying to do.


    • Leigh Townsend
      Apr 08, 2011 @ 18:57:55

      I can totally understand that idea – I use talking a lot when writing. I especially like to talk out story details to help them coalesce, and to get feedback from friends and family. When I started explaining my sequel idea to my sister (who is probably my biggest fan) it made the whole story fresher and clearer in my mind and got me started working on it again.
      I can’t imagine keeping quiet when it comes to my story or my writing. That’s amazing that you finished a book without discussing it!


  3. laurastanfill
    Apr 09, 2011 @ 00:35:44

    Thanks for answering my question. It’s great that your sister is a fan and so helpful in your process. I used to be scared to talk about my writing with other people. Perhaps that was because I was writing really character-driven novels. Now that I’m working on plot first, conversations about where I’m going have become an integral part of the process. Are you a plot-first writer or character-first or a mix?


    • Leigh Townsend
      Apr 09, 2011 @ 18:30:28

      Very character driven. If I don’t know the character, then I can’t write the story. The short story I’m working on now started with a plot, and it took me a bit to get in to the writing.


  4. laurastanfill
    Apr 10, 2011 @ 21:42:34

    I’m in this really weird phase where I’ve changed methods. I used to be a diehard character novelist, and now I’m starting with plot. I have the voice and the plot, and I’m starting to get to know my character as he wanders through this landscape. Doing it this way is totally new for me, and it makes me think about topics like this–how talking the story out can help it develop.


  5. Trackback: What Spare Time? « Butterflies and Dragons

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