Hi! I’m Lea Wait. In 1998 I left the corporate life and moved to Maine to write fiction full-time. At first I spent most of my time cleaning and arranging a family home no one had lived in full-time for twenty years, and taking care of my disabled mother. And, of course, writing. I felt excited about my new life, but also isolated… until I found friends on Book-in-a-Week (BIW). I wrote frantically during BIW challenge weeks. I finished one book. And then two. BIW-ers helped me celebrate my first sale.
Since then, my life has changed. My mother died. I married a man I’d loved since 1968, but with whom I’d been out of touch. Fifteen of my books have now been traditionally published, with another due out in December, and four more under contract. Several books have been finalists for awards, and many are on reading lists. In August, my Twisted Threads, the first in a new mystery series, was my first book to make the USA TODAY best seller list.
Today many of my friends are other authors. I write two mystery series for adults, historical novels for young people, and this past summer I self-published for the first time: a book of wry essays on my new life as wife and author, with hints for other writers. I invite you all to friend me on Facebook and Goodreads and visit my website.
Today, I’m thrilled to share with you one of my short essays on writing from Living and Writing on the Coast of Maine.
I am a thief.
I steal words.
I’m stealthy. I don’t take more than one, or possibly two, at a time, so tracing their origins would be impossible, even for me.
I steal them from friends and relatives and CNN commentators. I reach out and boldly snatch them from overheard conversations at grocery stores or farmers’ markets or coffee shops. But, worse of all, most of the words I’ve stolen have come from those in my own profession. I steal them from other writers.
I steal them for the same reason a jeweler might steal a jewel: they are so beautiful I can’t resist taking them and making them my own.
I carry a notebook, as most writers do, and that’s where I capture those precious, fleeting, words. Often they are sensory words. Images. Words I recognize, I admire, but that I don’t always use myself. Or that I suddenly see, or hear, in a different way. That remind me of smells or sights or tastes that fit scenes in the book I’m writing.
They are treasures. I hoard them.
I copy them onto lists and I read them over, cherishing the way they feel, before writing or rewriting a certain scene, or before starting my work for the day. They evoke feelings. Memories. They are almost a meditation. Sometimes they form themselves into short phrases.
What are some of the words and phrases on my list now?
Sea lavender, wishing stones, frayed, wafted, cobalt blue, gray skeletal pilings, the scent of lavender in an old pine bureau, the front of a house painted white while the back is wind-grayed, socked in, glowing, fingers grazing, skittered, slog, fragile, mud and mold and rotting fish, screams of fishers in the dark, creak of hardwood boards, shabby, clamoring
And many more. Some of them will no doubt find homes in my book. Or the one after that. Some will not. But reading them over will remind me why I love writing. Words are my tools.
I dare you.
Steal some of mine.
Words are magic. Used by different authors, they tell different stories. And yet, standing alone, or in limited company, they contain their own messages. They sing their own songs.
To learn more about Lea Wait and her writings please visit her official website.