Monday, August 22, 2011

Writing Away

I wonder if you are like me. As a child, I believed it was my shoes that would make me run fast. Only I didn’t have those shoes. So I didn’t run fast. If I just had the right work out outfit, I’d be at the gym everyday. Or at the very least, jogging. Of course that called for the correct sports bra (one that gave support but wouldn’t garrote me when I tried to take it on or off). With writing (or being creative in any way) it was work space. If only I had a desk. If only my desk were cleared off. If only I had the right jar/mug/vintage planter to hold my pencils and pens. And finally, if only I had the right computer. Fast enough, comfortable enough, new enough, with extended battery life. Oh, the list goes on.

And my critique partners would be the first to remind me that I often write long hand first. Barefoot. On the couch.

But I have discovered something. It is another secret that I am telling from the R8 blog.

Even in the perfect bra, at a hot springs spa, with a fox in a box, on a train in the rain, with my new MacBook Air, I still sit and stare at a blank page. Because the damn words won’t write themselves.

I know, I know. When you tune into Marjanna day at the R8, you often read about how writing is hard work and how I am forever surprized by that. Completely. I mean, I am totally and completely convinced that there are words out there, floating around, like the flotsam the Little Prince fell through on his way to earth, just waiting to be plucked out and strung together into sentences and paragraphs and etc. I’ve read things that are meant to be written. I’ve talked about this before, whether it is Stevie Smith or JD Salinger or Loretta Chase. They used the words as they are meant to be used.

And of course, I think in my head (as opposed to thinking in your head that would seem to imply), it must have been effortless for them. It must have been a noble moment of yes. And like Hemingway who stood at his desk to write, they must have had their perfect spot to write. Maybe like one of Wilbur Robinson’s relatives, they had on their Brain Augmenter to help them Think Deep Thoughts.

(Or maybe they just sat down and wrote, either plotting it out ahead of time or not. It doesn’t matter. Really, when you plot doesn’t matter. Having a plot is what matters. Unless you write Post Modern novels; then you might as well not even bind the pages but shuffle them about every morning and read a new book every day.)

So, getting back to me. Because I don’t write Post Modern anything, I was surprized to come up to Berkeley Springs, open up my new MacBook Air, and discover that Mac does NOT have an app for Writing Fairies. Quelle surprise! You can imagine my surprise because I just exclaimed in French, what a surprise! (I still want to put a z in that word.) Anyhoo, much to my shock, I found that even on a MacBook Air, I am the one expected to write my stories. At least on my MacBook Air. I don’t think others would truly expect me to write my stories on their MacBook Airs. Quelle surprise to them to!

So, the interesting thing is, getting away, with my MBA, with a few authors I don’t generally spend time away writing with, with very loud cicadas and the occasional squirrel, I actually did write. Not long hand, but barefoot and on my Mac.

Now, why why why couldn’t I do this in my own flat, on my own couch, with my own music playing in the background instead of the cicadas? Why do I have to join with other writers in a cabin in the woods of West Virginia in order to get my novella started?

Because being with other writers, motivated writers, writers with goals, with revision deadlines, makes me sit down and write. There is an energy that says, write. Not watch tv. Not read. And only take a very short nap. Twice. I know my writing ethic is not what it could be. But I also know I want to write. Somewhere, the twain must meet, or I may as well have bought this flipping expensive computer to download other people’s ebooks, stream television, and order my next sports bra to join the others in a drawer.


  1. Michelle,
    was it good for you, too?

  2. LOL! Marjanna, you make me laugh. I also find that having a change of space helps me write. As you know, my favorite (insert most productive) writing space is at Panera. I don't know what it is, but there's something about that particular spot that allows me to push the world away and get down to business. We all need to find our Zen spot where we can go to to do the hard work that is writing. Glad you got away and were able to pound out he beginning of that novella. Woohoo!

  3. I dunno, Candy. Maybe it WAS the cicadas? Singing their sweet music of love.

    I'm sure part of it is getting away from distractions in the home (tv, laundry, telephone, dusting) and having compadres who are there with me - expecting me to write and writing with me.

  4. Ah, the cherished "Alone Together" time of a writing date/retreat. I've given up on being frustrated that I need them. I do my best work when I'm not at home and that's all there is to it. Glad you were able to get some work done, Mx! I could loan you my alarm clock - it's a noise maker with a cicada/crickets option...

  5. I've had that "if only I had X THEN writing would be easier" syndrome sometimes. It's hard to overcome the desire for that one thing that will make the writing flow. It becomes a stalling tactic for me. BTW - congrats on the MacBook Air!

  6. Yes, as the hurricane approaches, and the possibility of no electricity, I'll be happy to have my MBA with its back-lit keyboard :)