Saturday, December 06, 2008

Don’t Forget the Shackles and Chains

By Keith Fisher

I’m the kind of person who has many different projects going at the same time, and every project has a pile. I sat down at my desk to write the other day, and began to look around. The piles had grown so high I couldn’t see over them, and I couldn’t remember what some of the stacks were for. Oh what a wonderful excuse for procrastination, and I took full advantage of mine.

My writing time was spent shuffling papers and making to-do lists. I leaned back in my chair and said "Ah, now I can write." I placed my fingers on the keyboard and the great concept I’d planned to write had evaporated from my mind.

As writers, I’m sure we have one thing in common. We all dream of the that perfect writing space. Be it office, studio, or game room. I always loved the television depiction of Dave Berry’s office on Dave’s World. An abundance of space, pinball machines, toys everywhere. I often put a picture on my desktop at work. It shows a castle, perched on a cliff, overlooking the Rhine River. What a great writer’s retreat. I’ve also shown pictures and talked about the oval office on this blog.

In all of my dream spaces, including the tower of a lighthouse, I have a comfortable couch that I can lie down on, and work out plotting problems. It’s also for talking to my kids. At a writer’s conference, Willard Boyd Gardner told the story of his office. He’d written Race Against Time, in pieces here and there at the kitchen table and so forth. When the book was published, he decided he needed an official writer’s office. So he built one. When he went in there to be alone and write, he found he needed the distraction of having the kids underfoot. He dragged the toys into his office and brought the kids in.

Currently I have an office I share with my daughter. It’s one way of keeping an eye on her internet use. There are pictures and plaques and awards on the walls. (There’s never enough wall space.) All in all, It’s cramped, but it’s not bad. I still want that comfortable couch, but it’s not bad. Still, I ask myself, how I can get inspiration for those great, new ideas, if I’m in the same old surroundings?

Don’t get me wrong I write in there. But lately I’ve been cheating on my office. I run away carrying my laptop. I find unusual places to write. I drive up to the mountains and support my computer with the steering wheel. I find parking lots with unsecured networks to post my blogs and check email. I write in café’s.

I’ve been reading Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg. She recommends several unusual and exotic places to write. If I write in airport terminals, or the mall, I am never in need of a character. If the protagonist needs to talk to a police chief, I look around the room until I find the person I want. Then I describe that person.

When I do family history research, and I write about my ancestors, it often lends credence, if I happen to be in the places where my ancestors had the experiences I’m writing about. The same is true for the mystery novel. It’s hard to describe the smell of a place if you’ve never been there.

Putting authenticity aside, however, It’s great to get out of the office. I could redecorate or add on into the carport, but that would be procrastination. I’m reminded of the lyrics of an old song,

Come Saturday Morning
The Sandpipers Words by Dory Previn and Music by Fred Carlin
Peak chart position # 17 in 1970
Featured on the soundtrack of the film The Sterile Cuckoo starring Liza Minnelli

Come Saturday morning
I'm goin' away with my friend
We'll Saturday-spend till the end of the day-ay
Just I and my friend
We'll travel for miles in our Saturday smiles
And then we'll move on
But we will remember long after Saturday's gone

It’s Saturday morning. I think I’ll take my character friends and run away. By the end of the day, I might have a good first draft of a new novel.

Good luck in your writing---see you next week.

1 comment:

Tristi Pinkston said...

I find I get distracted too easily if I write somewhere "new." I like to draft out ideas curled up in my bed, using a pen and spiral notebook, but my most productive writing times are just here at my plain old computer. I'm just too predictable. :)

I think it's interesting how we all find our muses in different places. Our methods are as unique as our books.