Thursday, August 17, 2006

Where a Writer Writes

By Nichole Giles

Last week our ward rented a nearby public pool for a private party. It was a busy day for me, and I hadn’t been able to squeeze in any time for writing. (This has become a hazard of summer for many of my writer friends.) The pool was open to the public until eight o’clock, so we didn’t get to go in until eight fifteen. My kids were excited, but I selfishly harbored secret hopes that the sky would open up and pour on us so the pool thing would have to be cancelled.

The party was going to cut into my writing time.

As luck would have it, the sky was a deep, clear blue with a few clouds, but not enough to generate a party-canceling storm. Drat. I really needed that time, as I had an idea swirling around in my head that desperately needed to be written out.

While my kids were loading my car with giant inflatable alligators, beach balls, and towels, a thought occurred to me. I might be able to get my writing done, and go to the party too. How? Well, it’s this little book filled with lined paper called a notebook. Usually, there are pages in this book that allow a person to write whatever comes to mind. A great invention, the notebook. I grabbed mine—complete with a ballpoint pen sticking out of the spiral rings—and headed to the party.

Before we were allowed in the pool, the ward had games and a picnic in the park. As my children played games and had root beer floats, I sat with my notebook and scribbled down my story.

Okay, I may have been considered anti-social by some of the ward members, but I decided it was a price I was willing to pay. I am, after all, a writer.

Once the story was released, I again had the ability to stand up and converse with some of my neighbors. It was the best kind of satisfaction to get that story out, even knowing I would have to go home and type it later.

I don’t always do that. Most of the time, I set up shop in my bedroom. I spread out my essentials—dictionary, thesaurus, research pages, notes, etc.—pile a few pillows behind my back, open my laptop and go at it for as long as I can stay in one position. That is where I do my best work, and where I generally write.

But—as I discovered at the party—I can be diverse. That story I wrote was a great rough draft. So the other day, knowing I had a deadline and a busy summer Saturday ahead of me, I threw my laptop in my bag and toted it along. With one eye I watched my son play soccer, and with the other, I roughed out an article I needed to finish. Again, not the perfect mom, but I was able to watch all three of my children’s soccer games, write an article, and still make it to my grandfather’s seventy-fifth birthday party that evening.

I squeezed it in. That’s what we do. When life becomes too hectic or crazy for our solitary craft, we find a way to come up with the time. Sometimes that means writing on a napkin in a restaurant during your lunch break, or on the back of an envelope in your car waiting to taxi your kids to and fro. Maybe it means giving up sleep one night while you stay up until two in the morning pounding away at a keyboard writing a blog that’s been in your head all day. I have been known to do all these things, and my writing has become better because I’ve made the time to write every day.

Where do you write?

It’s all a matter of perspective. A true writer can write anywhere, learning to block out the distractions of the world and siphon those thoughts onto whatever surface is handy. I am learning to write wherever I can.

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