I’ve never understood how people in the movies start drinking their tea as soon as it’s poured. The liquid goes from the kettle to the pot to the cup within moments, yet there they are, gratefully gulping down scalding tea. Whether it’s a period drama with the butler genteelly pouring for the lord and lady or one of the uncounted number of cop films where tea=comfort for families of the deceased, you’ll find the characters with cup in hand and nary a puff of breath across the top of the cup to cool it.
Even if it’s “just in the movies,” I’d expect someone, somewhere, to complain that they’ve blistered the roof of their mouth and to spend the rest of the day trying to ignore the pain (and failing as soon as they eat anything else.) I’ve rarely seen it, though. Fiction is like that– we ignore the messy little details to get to the meat of the story. No one cares that the traumatized faithful wife scorched herself. They just want to see if she’s really the criminal in disguise. Was that wince a sign of guilt? Did her eyes flick ever-so-slightly to her neighbor (and partner in crime?)
I’ve been sitting here at my desk with the same pot of tea for three hours and it’s stone cold. The weather outside is blustery and the cold has seeped through the house, turning everything just a little chillier. My toes are cold. My tea is cold. And my novel, abandoned since September of last year, is just about as cold.
I can fix the tea and tootsies easily enough. If I grab my slippers, crank up the heater, and put the kettle on the stove, those problems can be solved in fifteen minutes. Can my poor novel be resuscitated as easily? It’s been so long since I’ve been there, inside the heads of my characters, knee deep in a sandstorm. Do I even remember where the plot was going? Where was all the tension?
I’ve been peeking at it all afternoon as I tidied up the query letter and manuscript for one of my children’s books. The two main characters . . . I’ve missed them! So much is still to come, so much tension still hovering in the air. It’s not as cold as I feared– there’s still coals in there, they’re just banked under the ashes. All I have to do is stir them to life and feed it. The problem is that, when you’re writing a novel, you’re feeding it your energy, your love, and your passion.
It’s going to be worth it, though. I just have to ignore my cold feet and dive back in.