Saturday, October 28, 2006

Writers Block at 9,000 Feet

By Keith Fisher

I couldn’t bring my computer. Well, I guess I could’ve but I’m one of those who didn’t know you should remove the battery from a laptop while on house current so my battery only lasts about 50 minutes. Because of my daily writing habit I wondered if I would go crazy without my computer.

In a half-hearted attempt at appeasement, I brought a wire bound notebook. I figured I could make notes of the ideas I might have. I also threw in a few books to plan a Priesthood lesson I was scheduled to give.

I was going camping. My brother had planned his hunting trip and I didn’t want him to go alone. It turned out that my dad came too and we spent a large amount of time shooting the bull and solving the world’s problems while my brother was hunting. My brother brought Dad’s camp trailer so I was left alone in mine.

Have you ever tried to concentrate on a plot when someone is sitting next to you? I felt a need to put down my notebook and talk . . . so I did. I didn’t get my writing done.

After we ate the Dutch oven food I cooked and we said good night I went into the trailer and opened my notebook. Nothing happened. I tried to make notes for my lesson but I couldn’t keep my mind on it.

I realized if I had a generator, I could’ve brought my computer. At least I could watch a DVD on it. What do you do when you’re camped at 9,000 feet during your writing time and nothing comes to mind? I couldn’t even play computer games. Did I mention I was alone in a camp trailer? Who could ask for a better set up than that? I was having the weekend that most writers can only dream about and my mind wasn’t co-operating. What would you do? I gave up!

I finally decided to go to bed, thinking I would at least get caught up on all the sleep I’ve been missing. Have you heard about the best-laid plans of mice and men? The air was so dry and I was running the furnace. I woke at midnight with a dry throat and a worry that I would be sick by morning. I boiled some water and leaned over the steam while I made hot chocolate.

When my hot drink was ready, I sat down and looked at my notebook. I thumbed through the notes I made before and they started me thinking about the characters in one of my books. It isn’t the book that I have been currently working on. Suddenly my characters were dictating to me and I was putting it on paper, not my computer screen.

Three cups of hot chocolate and four hours later, I decided that I’d better go to bed. I was happy when my head hit the pillow. I forgot about my sore throat because I was thinking about my characters.

I spent the rest of the weekend writing about those characters, the ones I didn’t intend to write about. I learned that it’s a good idea to have two stories going in case you get blocked up with the one you’re working on. It can get confusing, but characters are like children if you pay attention to one, the other will get jealous and try to take center stage. Then all you need to do is write it down.

I learned something else that I had forgotten: There is something peaceful about quietly putting ink on paper but reading it is another matter. My writing is readable when it is done on my computer. I’m looking forward to Christmas with an Alpha Smart in mind. Then I'll be able to read what I write even if I’m camping when I write it.


C. L. Beck said...

You stayed alone . . . all by yourself . . . in a camp trailer while bears, wolves and the Gaboogity Sisters howled and prowled about you in the swirling darkness?

Under those circumstances, I wouldn't be able to write either!

Anyone that brave deserves an Alpha Smart for Christmas.:-)

(Good job on the blog, I enjoyed it.)

Tristi Pinkston said...

You also learned something else, Keith -- chocolate is absolutely necessary for good writing. Notice you didn't get anything done until you'd had a cup? :) I can never seem to finish an edit without a secret stash.

Keith Fisher said...

thanks for your comments guys. I think I'm going to start using the chocolate subscription myself.