I’ve been listening to Sarah Enni‘s First Draft podcast non-stop since I discovered it via Twitter a few weeks ago. I tweeted at her to let her know. She tweeted back. It was great. Still waiting for her to reach out to interview me, but I know she’s busy and heaven knows I’m busy. Gosh.
In Sarah’s podcast she interviews authors about writing in the young adult genre, though often times the conversations sprawl across other genres and topics. For the most part the hour-ish-long episodes are raw recordings, though I suspect there’s much that’s been snipped out. I spend a lot of time wondering about these missing details, but overall I’m thankful that Sarah seems to have the same curiosity I do. She wants to put on display all the peculiar details I want to know about. For instance: the actual process of writing itself, per writer.
A cardinal detail at the beginning of each interview is usually setting. Sarah will describe where an author gets their work done, and when. She’ll have the authors describe their process themselves. I simply LOVE this sort of detail. I’m forever fascinated by creative ceremonials and it’s no secret that I am absolutely a person ruled by minor rituals, especially when it comes to the dramatic art of sitting in front of my manuscript and not doing a thing.
While I listen to these published authors talk about how they work, I think about how I work. It’s a little something like this: I don’t. At least not effectively. This is changing though. I’ve found that prying myself out of bed at 6am daily to put in a few hours of writing in the morning is well worth it. It calibrates me for the day. I get more done at work, and I’m brimming with ideas by the time I get home from the gym. Sometimes I’ll even write these ideas down if I’m feeling generous with my future self, though this is not in my nature.
For the longest time I thought I was incapable of writing at night, mostly because I am unfocused in the later hours (and…let’s be honest…usually eating whatever snack has the misfortune of catching my peevish, birdlike eyes when I get home from the gym). A lot of this is stress and ware; it’s tough to reign your verbosity in after a day of being concise. For me, words always feel shifty at night. Cloying and a little sticky. Like I can’t quite trust what I’m putting on the page, like I’ll open my manuscript in the morning and find that everything I wrote the night before was just poorly plagiarized lines from the lesser-known works of Virgina Woolf.
But I like my night writing. It’s usually a mess, but that’s what morning writing is for. Clean cleavers for pruning the night’s blooms.
(See?? Pruning the night’s blooms? What the hell is that? Who posts stuff like that on a public blog??)
I also think a lot about writing spaces. Where people craft. Where I’ll craft. Will I be the sort of writer who embeds themselves among pillows and blankets? No, that feels unkempt, like I’ve just been divorced and he took the cat. What about the writer who hunches at the corner table of the cafe for hours? That’s been me for years, and at some point I’m going to have to address my caffeine addiction and the depressing stink of coffee that’s settled into more than one of my coats. Or how about the writer who sits at a big, sun-drenched desk in a big, sun-drenched office? Maybe, but also absolutely not; I’m too nosy to sit by windows. I’d end up purchasing little golden binoculars, like the ones people use at operas. I’d invest all my time dissecting the drama of squirrels. I’d write a gossip column about which birds are hip and which ones are obviously hacks. Eventually, I’d just become the clumpy silhouette of the mother in the window in Psycho, and you’d all have to go without these really insightful and coherent blog posts.
Right now I do most of my writing from my bedroom, at an old drafting table I tricked my father into buying for me when I was little. It’s littered with papers and books and an inexplicable abundance of frequent-shopper punch cards, all of them 37% completed. (All of them!) And there are cups everywhere, half full of tepid, dusty water, like I’m that little girl from Signs. Swing away, Merrill, swing away…
I like my set up. It’s shabby. It allows for the myriad knickknacks I like to talk my plot points out to. You can’t just do that anywhere, you know; people will scoot away. Or worse: they’ll listen.But someday I think I’ll want something with a bit more…natural lighting. Maybe not so much that it’s sun-drenched, but what about sun-smattered? That seems safer. Safer for everyone. Certainly safer for the birds.~~Where do you write? And when?