Thanks to everyone who has chimed in during the past few days on the first/third person post and the Holy Grail (so many really smart comments!). The wise crowds have spoken and the crowd says: a Holy Grail that will predict bestsellers is not possible, nor would people really want such a thing to be possible. Sigh. I guess I’m just going to have to go back to relying on gut instinct and hunches. (Let’s hope they’re better than the hunch that told me it was a really good idea to try one of my dog’s chicken treats since it smelled so good.)
On another note, I’m always fascinated by how people write. Superman has his fortress of solitude, Batman his cave, but what about authors? Bestselling author Po Bronson, for instance, writes in a closet. Jack Kerouac typed out ON THE ROAD on one continuous roll of paper. James Joyce wrote in red crayon on huge pices of paper.
So how do you write? Paper and pen, typewriter, laptop? What’s your favorite spot? The hammock? The basement?
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Most of my story building happens in my head while I’m falling asleep. The story expands and develops night after night, until it seems almost solid.
Then I hit the laptop, put on earphones, turn off my family and write. Sometimes I’ll go late into the night, other times I do a chapter during a lull at work and email it to my home.
I keep a small notebook in my purse for emergencies, or when I’m waiting in the car for the kids to finish school.
For a while my old Thinkpad was held prisoner in the dining room because of a fried keyboard, so I was confined there with an external keyboard while the family watched TV in the adjacent living room. I tuned them out with the headphones.
I finally picked up a used Powerbook G4 and I can escape to any room with my wireless connection. Sometimes I surf too much when I should be writing.
For the better part of time, I write at my desktop in the back corner of my bedroom. Quiet, private (though not as much now that there’s a phone there), with two windows that I can stare out of if I need a break.
However, I’ve also become very adept at writing on transpacific plane trips. I’m partial to the back row of a Qantas Airbus 380.
I write in my head when there is no means of letting the words spill out onto screen or paper. I write on cafe napkins, the back of old bank statement envelopes and Starbucks receipts, in the margins of old manuscripts, and other random pieces of paper I dig out of my bag. I write on my office computer, on Google documents or into an email I send myself at home in the papery chaos of the study I share with my husband. Sometimes I write aloud, speaking words that are part of a story I am imagining writing, just to hear how they sound. I write with my life, looking over my own shoulder and memorizing what I see for the retelling. I write when the urge strikes–in the bathroom (honey, can you bring me a pen?) or in the middle of the night, sleepless, slipping quietly from under the sheets and the crook of my husband’s arm. I write by force of will, when words are too ordinary to make me happy and the cursor blinking at me is like a fog horn to a woman with a hangover. I write in my sleep, waking to the lines freshly emblazoned on my memory, and my fingers still twitching.