I wanted to take some time today to share with you the plots side of Pies and Plots. I’ve loved to write ever since I can remember. I wasn’t writing novels when I was in grade school, but I’ve always kept some kind of diary. It was a way for me to share the silly ramblings of an eight or ten year old, things I didn’t really mean, but felt deeply in the moment. Writing them down probably helped me move on to the next thing, and those diaries are good for a laugh when they are found today at the bottom of some bin or drawer. As I grew older they helped me to sort out what had happened on a given day in my life and the world at large, often allowing me to remember things I might otherwise forget. I didn’t have many, or more realistically, any friends to share my innermost thoughts with, and sometimes Mom just didn’t fit the bill of listener, so a diary was the only way for me to get out what I was thinking. I think most young girls benefit from having a place to write things down. Seeing something on paper can change the way you understand something entirely.
There was also letter writing, and a lot of it. One of my aunts, cousins, classmates, parents of classmates, teaching assistants, my parents’ friends, neighbors, and more found themselves on the other end of a barrage of flowered stationary and brightly colored gel pens (remember Milky Pens?). Unlike most people I wrote, I had seemingly endless time to carefully craft my letters and cover the envelopes in stickers. My aunt tried to respond as quickly as possible, mostly out of familial obligation, but writing me back didn’t rank as highly on the priority list for others. This is understandable to me now, but back then, it wasn’t. I would write letter after letter to people I hadn’t heard from. Most of them would eventually respond, but I have no doubt they were annoyed.
I even got pretty good at writing school papers. If I enjoyed the topic or knew a lot about it, I could put together a paper in no time flat. It became enjoyable to write them, as I watched my word choices turn into beautiful sentences, and those sentences turn into a coherent thought that supported my position quite well. The papers that were even more fun to write were those whose topic I didn’t enjoy or have a full understanding of. They took a little longer to write, but it amazed me that I could write a paper, one that sounded pretty good, and usually received an equally good grade, even when I kind of had no idea what I was talking about. It was my love for words that inspired me nearly every time I sat in front of the computer no matter what I was writing about.
Where did my love of words come from? I’d like to say it was my love of books, but it wasn’t. It was my love of television. I grew up in front of the television, but managed to avoid all the bad things studies say excessive watching causes. And the first time I watched The West Wing the world of words came alive for me.
The first episode I saw was “The Indians in the Lobby” in the middle of season three. I’ve since seen every episode at least a couple of times, have recited a scene for a school speech, and use some of the lines in everyday speech. While I was a writer before my television was tuned to the spectacular writing of Aaron Sorkin, it was that writing that informed and inspired my time with a pen in my hand or a computer in front of me from the first line I heard. The more I watched the more I knew writing was my passion, I just wasn’t yet sure how it would turn into my profession.
I still keep a diary of sorts, where I note things that happen to me and things I want to remember, but know otherwise might slip from my memory as time passes. I also still love to write letters, though they aren’t nearly as incessant and are mostly of the thank you variety. Sometimes I can’t help myself from writing a card just to say hello to someone important in my life. School papers unfortunately still happen, but I hope not for very long. It’s been a very long time, too long in fact, since I’ve watched an episode of The West Wing (it’s probably time for me to dust off the DVD box sets), but The Social Network, Moneyball, and even Studio 60 (yes I liked Studio 60) have filled the void. It’s fair to say I’m inspired my Aaron Sorkin’s writing in general, but The West Wing is simply my favorite.
Writing is a really cool thing, even if it’s only diaries, letters, and papers, but I wanted it to be something more. But the next part of the plot is a post for another day.