Friday, June 04, 2021

Seeking Dumbo's Feather

 Lately my fellow Type posters have discussed favorite chairs and writing methods. I definitely have a favorite chair. This is where I read, create first drafts, nap, fret, eat popcorn, cry, read endlessly, and pretty much just live.

This chair accompanied a sectional. It's supposed to be some sort of leather, but I doubt it. Vinyl? Perhaps. All of my furniture is purchased with this criteria: how will it look with a cup of coffee spilled on it? Or tea? Or soup? I bought it from JC Penney's decades ago. It's lasted forever without showing a bit of wear. 

For some reason most of the authors I know are just fascinated by the methods used by other writers. How long do they write, where do they write, etc. We are all searching for Dumbo's feather. Some magic formula or method that will make the process easier. It ain't going to happen. 

I'm amazed at the variety of paths taken to produce books. My own struggle to come up with material that's marketable or fit to read (not always the same thing) has involved a great deal of stealth. When my children were little I got up at 4:00 in the morning. My husband was driving a truck for National Beef and like a good wife I got up to fix him breakfast. It's a cultural thing. That's what rural wives did back in those days. 

Much to my amazement, I found that I had the energy of a little squirrel at 4:00 and nobody, not my kids, not my community, not even God, wanted a thing from me at 4:00. So I kept this habit for quite a number of years, even after Don had moved on to another job. 

Early on I developed a quota system. Five pages a day, five days a week. To accomplish this I learned to write anytime, anywhere, and under any circumstances. Didn't matter. In between numbers at music festivals, emergency rooms, on a bench at a softball game. Whatever. To save myself and the children embarrassment, and appear "normal" I learned to get at it "my work" very quickly, so I wouldn't have to tote it around to strange places.   

After Don bought the truck line and our children left home, my sleeping/waking hours mirrored his. When I became involved in the business, our hours were identical. Through the years my quota changed to a one page minimum and included a great deal of non-fiction.

Now I get up at 6:00. Since I'm in the first draft phase of my latest mystery, I curl up in my chair and am writing this particular book in longhand. I don't know why I'm using such an old-fashioned method, but I am. 

I have a dedicated office with a fast internet connection and a huge monitor. When I transfer the manuscript to the computer, I love the luxury of being able to edit it instantly. 

A friend was recently invited to contribute a non-fiction book to a series. She's thrilled. She plans to isolate a big chunk of time and get 'er done. This has never worked for me. It's what I want to do. Would love to do. Heaven knows I've tried it often enough. But when I do there's always some crisis. My allergies act up, something happens to my adult children or grandchildren, or a pet, or there's a plumbing problem. You get the drift. 

Now there is the relentless demand of social media and marketing. There's a proliferation of material I should be reading. Zoom calls and oodles of seminars. 

What works best for me is still the method I developed in the beginning: a certain number of pages five days a week whenever, wherever, and any time. Until I enter the hallowed halls of bestsellerdom and people bring me meals and whisper in my presence, I suspect that will always be the case. 

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