Thursday, April 11, 2013

Fractured Moments

I appreciate the practical tidbits offered by other writers. Yet nothing makes a lasting impression better than experiencing something firsthand. The first such ‘aha’ moment stemmed from my current unsettled life and centered on my office, or lack of one.
Except for one week, the last four months have been spent in various hotels and unfamiliar condos. Traveling is great, and I have no regrets. I just lugged along a laptop, zip drive, notebook and anything else needed to finish several writing projects.
In each new location I’d choose a space to work. So far so good, but right away I learned something crucial. Never underestimate the importance of a decent desk chair. A chair with back support, and one that swivels and rolls on castors, is a luxury I didn’t realize until it was gone. An unforgiving stiff-backed dining chair, a chair that wiggles and threatens to collapse, or an overstuffed, cushiony sofa is simply not conducive to long hours of writing—at least not for me. After a kinked neck and an achy back, I resorted to working in bed, laptop balanced on a pillow. When I kept slipping into a prone position, I gave up.
Ah, to have my office back…
Also, I'll never take for granted the importance of having everything I need close at hand. Pens, paper clips, scratch paper, resource materials and even a window or two overlooking a tranquil green space are critical to an efficient and creative writing experience. Without those things, I felt fractured and disjointed. No matter how much I anticipated and packed, invariably I wanted something I didn’t have but which could be found at my home office.  
The third important lesson, and one I will never forget, is the importance of taking a break from a troubling project. I’ve heard this wisdom offered before by fellow writers and always agreed with it wholeheartedly. Yet when the time came for me to step away, I couldn’t do it.
I’d been struggling for months with a book called Amaryllis. The pacing was slow, the romantic scenes hellish to write, the plot boring. I wasn’t having any fun. In fact, for the first time ever, I hated writing. Friends and family advised me to take a break, but being compulsive, I had to finish this bleeping nightmare. Fortunate for me, I was forced to set it aside when several editorial deadlines couldn’t be ignored.  
What a difference a day makes. Well, what a difference three months makes. Yesterday, I picked up Amaryllis. I got excited. I saw where and what changes needed to be made to make this book sing. Never again will I hesitate to take a break.



Big Mike said...

I read an article long time ago about the creative elements of the mind. Without conscious thought our brain will continue toying with a problem, searching for a solution. Before I retired I'd wake in the morning with solutions to algorithms that hid from me for weeks then just mysterious appeared. Think the same is true of the literary component of our brain.

Michael Davis (
Author of the Year (2008 and 2009)
Award of Excellence (2012)

Julie Eberhart Painter said...

Lesson learned. I've found distance helps to provide perspective,too.

I blog and also write articles for COCKTAILS Fiction and Gossip Mag. That makes me feel productive while I subconsciously ponder my long project.

Richard Hacker said...

Glad to hear you've renewed your enthusiasm for your novel. I keep a couple projects going so I can shift gears when I need to.

Liz Fountain said...

I've had that same experience - picking up a project again after a break and falling in love with it all over. And I second the good desk chair motion! I was lucky enough to fine a gently used Steelcase chair at our local university surplus sale for five dollars. Best five dollars I've ever spent and my back and neck say so too!

Rita Bay said...

Glad your book is back on track. Can't imagine writing without my large and comfortable swivel that I can kick back in with my computer in my lap. R