Posted by jmdattilo
Sitting down to write a book isn’t as easy as, well, sitting down to write a book.
The process of getting two writers to sit down and write at the same time can be arduous. First of all, as most married folks know, getting a husband and wife to agree on what they want to do at any given moment is a feat all by itself. He suggests doing some writing before dinner. She points out that although she is a multi-tasker extraodinaire, cooking and writing simultaneously always results in a burned dinner. She suggests writing after dinner. He has a meeting, which is why he suggested writing before dinner. So they sit down to write and the dinner burns.
As any writer knows, writing is a daily activity. If writers waited for the perfect mood, they’d never write anything. Finding that idyllic place, the yeah-this-stuff-is-rolling-out-of-my-brain-just-as-fast-as-I-can-type moment, is rare. Having two people hit that high at the same time is even rarer. It’s much more common for one to be ready to write and the other not interested at all. Sort of a “not tonight, I have a headache” type of thing. This is where scheduling writing time comes in handy. It’s like making a date. You look forward to it, you prepare for it and (hopefully) you score.
And let us not forget our writing tools. Is it a plotting session? Then lined yellow pads and pencils are needed. Editing? Red pens are a must! Plus a lot of tea. And maybe something stronger if editing gets really brutal. Actual writing? Here we differ. Mary writes on a computer, Joe, the old fashioned way, long-hand on a legal pad. That makes combining scenes LOADS of fun. Deciphering Joe’s handwriting is not for the faint of heart. Not to mention having to print a half written scene from the computer, adding long-hand notations, and then transcribing the whole thing into a workable (and readable) draft. Yikes!
A place to write is important, too, and also depends on what we happen to be doing. We edit at the kitchen table because editing needs a lot of room, not only for spreading out various drafts and scenes but for ducking if someone throws something. Plotting needs atmosphere. The gazebo in summer, by the fireplace in winter. Sounds lovely, doesn’t it? It can be and plotting a storyline can be a lot of fun. (When you’re not banging your head on a table because you can’t figure out just how the heck you’re going to get out of the corner you’ve written yourself into, this is.) And the actual writing? We need separate spaces for this part of the job. In fact, this is so important we have another blog coming devoted just to this topic!
Finally, and most importantly, we both wear reading glasses. This is a problem, because, as anyone who wears reading glasses knows, there is a special law of physics that states that reading glasses are never left in the same spot twice. The joke in our house is that we need glasses to find our glasses. Writing sessions are often delayed as one or the other hunts for our glasses. No glasses, no writing. So we wander from room to room, wondering where we left them, wondering if someone else could have moved them, wondering if we have gnomes who come out at night and hide our glasses. And that brings us to the moral of our story. Not all those who wander are lost. Some are just looking for their glasses.
(J.R.R. Tolkien’s birthday is January 3rd. His book, The Fellowship of the Ring, is the source of the “not all those who wander are lost” quote. The full quote goes: “All that is gold does not glitter, not all those who wander are lost; the old that is strong does not wither, deep roots are not reached by the frost. From the ashes a fire shall be woken, a light from the shadows shall spring; renewed shall be the blade that was broken, the crownless again shall be king.”)
Tolkien, apparently, never had any trouble finding his glasses.
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