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  • Writer's pictureBecca Whitham

La-la Land

I’m being interviewed today about my writing process. In typical “Becca” fashion, that means I’ve spent hours thinking about it so I’ll be prepared to answer. A big part of my process is spending hours alone thinking through hundreds of different angles to a story. I usually start with a plot, then possible plot twists, then what kind of personality would have the most trouble handling those events, and finally what character arc would get them from point A to point Z.

This process can take weeks. Sometimes months. It looks like I’m doing nothing when—in fact—I’m working through a very complicated process.

Which got me thinking about something else.


I’ve written before about what a revelation it was to realize I’m an artist. Today I realized something else. I like living inside my head. I like having time to mull things over for long periods of time. “La-la Land” is my home planet. But it’s not a place highly prized by teachers and parents.

Which means my formative years were spent thinking there was something wrong with me.

Because the other thing which is true of me is that I value being perceived as competent. In school, that meant getting good grades as they are the measure of competence. You don’t get good grades by going to La-la Land. From the time I was in kindergarten, teachers said I spent too much time day-dreaming. It was bad or wrong or inefficient or whatever other adjective you want to fill in.

Yet this rich inner life I have—the place where I can take one small thing and turn it into a whole novel—is the very thing I like best about me. I wonder…how many other artists have spent years thinking the best part of them is wrong?

Please don’t think I’m blaming my parents or teachers. I’ve been both. I know the stresses they are under. They weren’t wrong to require me to focus on the task at hand, but at some point I need to let go of what made me a good student and embrace what makes me a good me.

That point is today.

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