Sunday, December 12, 2010

The WHERE Of Writing

I've talked a lot about WHAT I write and some about HOW I write. Today, the WHERE.

I'll write just about anywhere as long as I have a laptop or my trusty netbook with me. When desperate, I will scribble notes on paper, but it's rare that I'll try to write anything longer than a note with an actual pen or pencil. It just doesn't flow for me when I do that. This is what happens when you learn to type at age 8. In 2009, I lived for a month in the woods in Michigan, sans laptop, and it was torture trying to get words down on paper. I think I left the woods with about 12 more words than when I entered. 3 of which were "Buy netbook. Soon!"

I once spent a weekend holed up in a bed and breakfast (alone) on Martha's Vineyard as a violent spring storm, just shy of a hurricane, howled outside. I couldn't go outside, so I wrote inside - completely unaware of the storm, the fact that I was on an island off Massachusetts very far from home and that James Taylor's brother had just unclogged the toilet. (He looks just like James, FYI.)

SHADOW POINT began with some notes scribbled on a plane. (well, scribbled on a piece of paper while seated inside a plane - they get really mad when you write ON the plane) I used to travel a lot for my job and spent much time in airports and on planes. I've gotten a lot of writing done over the years at 30,000 feet on a laptop. Once, late at night, I was crammed into coach on a flight from Dallas to San Antonio, Texas. I don't remember what scene it was, but I was On Fire, typing lickety split as some SHADOW POINT chapter leaped from my fingertips to the keyboard. For the brief flight, I was entirely unaware of being on a plane in general, and, in specific, of the stranger sitting entirely too close to me. As our descent began, I closed the lid on the laptop and heaved a happy sigh. "Hi," said the stranger next to me, a pudgy middle-aged white guy, extending his hand. "My name's Larry."

"Oh, *&^%$#@!," I thought, but I gave him a (very) small, neutral smile, shook his hand and said, "Hi, Larry, I'm Amy." (NOTE TO THE REST OF THE COUNTRY: I am not a Texan, but Texans do this kind of stuff all the time, so I learned to semi-adapt to that alien culture while living there.)

"Are you a professional writer?" Larry said enthusiastically.

"Nope," I told him. "Just a hobby." (I was far from published at the time. Now I'm two days away!)

"Well, you sure looked like you know what you're doing," Larry said admiringly.

Well... thanks, Random Stranger Larry! I guess you were right.

Other places I've written: A great deal of the first half of SHADOW POINT was written in a large empty room with high ceilings which looked out onto this gorgeous backyard:
The second half of SHADOW POINT was written in the dining room of a tiny, but adorable, house nicknamed Storybook Lane. On the downside, it was freezing there in the winter. Adorable does not guarantee warm.

ROMEO FAILS has mostly been written on a netbook (a little bitty laptop smaller than an 8 ½ x 11 inch piece of paper) in a small bedroom which is primarily used for storage. So, I'm surrounded by boxes, a file cabinet, a loveseat that didn't fit anywhere else... The one window looks out on a parking lot. Not scenic. Not adorable. But it really doesn't matter, because when I'm writing, wherever I'm writing, I'm now in the small Midwestern town of Romeo Falls, population 3,557. You'll have to trust me on this one, I know, but it's an exciting place! There's a LOT going on in Romeo Falls...

It's great to have a wonderful and roomy space set aside for just writing, with a view to refresh one's soul and heat(!) and a dearth of Larrys. Some day, I hope to have such a space again. But it's the writing that's important, not the location where the writing takes place.

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