Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The joy of summer writing

One of the things I most enjoy about the summer is getting a chance for as many days of full-time writing as I am able to squeeze in. Heaven for me is to get off alone somewhere (my wife is welcome to come along, as long as she doesn’t expect much out of me – and she’s very good about understanding that) and just immerse myself in my latest writing project. Once the creative juices start flowing and the characters take over – sometimes it takes a day or two for this process to click in – time seems to just disappear and I often find I’ve been working for five, six, even seven hours (especially if Vicki is out and about somewhere). It’s quite simply heaven for me since work often keeps me from writing anywhere near as much as I want to.

The view from where I sit and write.
Where do I like to write? It’s got to be away from the city. The more silence – except for bird song – the better. We have friends who own a 150-year-old log home in Eastern Ontario that is just perfect. Rush hour is when you get two cars an hour going down the dirt road out front (200 feet away). After where we live in Toronto, the silence is a blessed relief. [As a sidebar, it’s been proven that filtering out all the noise in one’s surroundings takes a huge toll on your energy levels. No wonder I always feel far more energized in quiet surroundings.]

Like most authors these days, I use a computer for writing more often than not. If I still had my old Olivetti, I might use that more, but I stupidly let it go at a yard sale years ago. Right around that time, though, I (re)discovered fountain pens when I ran across an old one my mom gave me when I was confirmed far too many years ago. It didn’t work anymore, but after finding it I did buy another one and that started me off. I now have eight and all have nibs ground for the way I hold a pen (overhand) and take into account that I’m left handed.

In my writer’s heaven, pen and paper tend to be the rule of the day. Somehow, being forced to write more slowly – I can type at about 60-70 words a minute – forces me to write more thoughtfully. With some good paper (smooth finish), my favorite pen and fastest-drying ink (Waterman blue-black), I can sit out on a screened porch for hours and just get lost in the process. When I need to think, there’s a pond to look at – with resident great blue heron and belted kingfisher – tons of birds in the surrounding sugar bush. Within a few minutes, inspiration kindles what I needed to know and I’m off again. At the end of my work day, I transcribe everything onto the computer.

Nights, I take time off, we have a nice dinner, and if the weather is kind, we set up our telescope and enjoy an almost completely dark sky. While Vicki’s observing, my mind often returns to the plot of my book and I’ve been known to completely zone out. If it’s cloudy, we sit on the screened porch and watch the nightly bat floor show. (Sadly, though, the little brown bats that live in the attic seem to have been decimated by the fungus disease that’s causing their numbers to plummet.)

So in two weeks, you know where I’ll be. Wish me luck because I want to produce at least 100 pages of manuscript, if not more. Having no internet also keeps me from wasting time, although I can’t indulge in Aline’s joy of doing research.

What’s your idea of writing heaven? Right now it's not where I'm sitting. All the windows are open because of the heat and our neighbour is getting a new driveway put in!


Vicki Delany said...

I'm lucky enough to love to write where I live. In the summer, out on the deck by the pool. In the winter, at my standing shelf. Although right now the deck is crumbling beneath my chair!

Aline Templeton said...

Your idea of writing heaven is the same as mine, Rick. On holiday in France I get up with the sun and write watching the world wake up - bliss. Good luck!

Rick Blechta said...


Oddly enough, the place where I most enjoy writing is in a very Scottish part of Ontario. Consider this: it's in the Lanark Highlands. The nearest large town is Perth and the nearest small town is Lanark. The two largest rivers are the Tay and the Clyde. The property is near a hamlet called Lammermoor and there are so many redheaded people in the area that nobody bats an eye at my red haired wife. I think you would feel right at home, even though the flora is pure Canadian boreal forest. Come to think of it...

Charlotte Hinger said...

Rick, for some reason I now start books with pen and paper and move to computer when deadlines are pushing. I'm in a bind with the new book and writing furiously to have it published by the due date.