Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Real World of Writing

Hi, all!
Sorry it has been so long since I've posted, but I've been busy researching and writing my new story and haven't been able to come up for air. Sorry about that..... but I've been on a roll. When I make posts, like most writers, I tend to show the *glamorous* side of the writing world -- visiting amazing places to do research, having a great time at book events and while on book tours, and even showing what I do on my "free" time while on the road. It is true those are perks of the profession that help make life so darn beautiful for a writer, and we all like to share those sorts of details. However, I thought for this entry I'd share a little bit about what goes on about 90% of the time, at least in my case. I'm going to attach a picture to this post that shows where I spend most of my writing time. This is a picture of my dining room table -- and it is a real mess! I do have pretty great study where I "could" write, but for some reason I favor the dining room table. It may be because of the natural light in the room or the fact that it seems more "open" than my study. Whatever the reason, I spend hours at a time at my Macintosh laptop computer shown in the photo. I don't like the smaller keyboards on the laptops, so I've attached a regular-sized, remote keyboard, which works just fine. This means I also have to use a remote mouse and mouse pad. Currently, I'm using a Zorro mouse pad. You won't have to look very long at the picture to see what appears to be terrible clutter all over the table. Actually, this isn't as bad as it looks. virtually all of those papers contain information I am using to write the story. I'm notorious for a really bad habit: I write while I'm driving if something pops into my head. Therefore, I keep several pads of paper in my van, and when the muse strikes, I start writing. I've been known to write on the top of pizza boxes on the way home from picking up a pizza, on various types of writing tablets, on napkins, and even on scraps of paper I find close at hand. Again, if you look closely at the photo, you'll see different types of paper with scribbles on them. I keep them on the table until I use the information. After using them, I move them to a large folder in my study and keep them there in case I need to look back at them at a later time. If you look on the chair on the left, you'll see what appears to be an advertisement for a telephone upgrade; on that piece of paper, I wrote notes about a character I'm developing in the story (I found the advertisement in Wal-Mart and wrote the information on it while driving back to my house). You'll also notice several flash/jump drives mixed in with the notes. I'm religious about backing up everything I write on a computer just in case the computer crashes or, heaven forbid, the power goes out and wipes out a file -- which has happened more than a few times.
So, mixed in with the book tours and research, this is the "real" world of writing, at least for me. I've spent so much time in that chair that I feel like it is part of my anatomy..... Still, the most important thing of all is attaining a "comfort zone" while writing, and this is where I find that. This photo is my writing world, and right now I wouldn't change it for anything.
The writing of the new book is going very well. I just completed what I knew would be the hardest chapter of all to write. This chapter has a great deal of technical information about an industry that is part of the story. The research to get this information took several months. Now that the chapter is finished, I feel both a sense of relief and a little sadness at the same time because I really enjoyed the research period -- and especially the wonderful people I met while at archives, record centers, and museums. I'm now at the point in the story when the narrative really takes off, and I'm itchin' to get back to the computer!
I hope all is well with all of you -- and that your own writing is coming along as you wish. More soon!