This goes back to when we were at the RWA Conference in San Francisco in 2008. We were writing together in our hotel room. At the time I was working on the young adult novel (I haven’t finished) and my main character, Mila, was at a restaurant having her birthday dinner with her adoptive mother, Oona, and grandmother. It was a scene with a lot of emotion that had been a challenge to write because Mila had driven her brand new birthday present–a very cute VW bug–into the garage. Literally. So, instead of the dinner being a celebration, it was full of conflict.
I’d gotten myself all tangled up describing the actions at the table and probably made some disgusted noise at myself. My daughter looked up and asked what the problem was. I explained that I was having trouble writing that Oona stabbed a piece of ahi tuna with her fork.
And then my daughter asked me, “Why can’t you just say she stabbed a piece of ahi tuna with her fork?”
Well? Why couldn’t I?
I wanted to growl at her and kiss her at the same moment. Instead, we both ended up laughing hysterically.
The line became:
Oona stabbed an unsuspecting piece of seared ahi with her fork.
Ahi tuna moments happen all the time in writing–at least to me. Sometimes I have whole ahi tuna scenes. The problem is that it isn’t easy to see I’m having one when I’m in it. Sometimes I need someone to gently tell me that I’m making things more complicated than they are, and that things are simpler than I think.