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Writing on the Road (or not)

by Jonathan 0 Comments
Yeah, Journey.

Yeah, Journey.

They say that the road ain’t no place to start a family.

–Steve Perry, lead singer of Journey.

The road is also no place for me to start a story. We just got back from Nags Head, NC where we visited with some old friends. I always marvel at how much I enjoy seeing those guys. This time our daughters, all around the 3 year mark played together and oozed cuteness wherever they trod. As much a success as the child’s play was, the writing suffered. I managed about 400 words during bed time one night and that was it. I didn’t get the opportunity to feel my way through the beginning of the story. The results were unsatisfactory, but at least they were something.

The weather was spectacular, not so much in a sunny paradise, brilliant sunset way, but in a rainy, windy, giant waves rolling in kind of way. Even so, it was a nice trip.

I also managed to read a hundred or so pages in Neal Stephenson’s Anathem. Good stuff. As he did with Quicksilver, Stephenson captivated me with his worldbuilding that is both alien and comfortably familiar–no small feat. I like to think of it as research.

Back in the Saddle

If only we needed one suitcase.

If only we needed one suitcase.

I had really hoped that our two week trip to Maine wouldn’t prove too much of an interruption. I thought I would write more. I was wrong. We rolled back into WV last night and I am back in my dedicated writing space today. It’s a 10×10 shed that I wired, insulated and paneled. We call it the man shack. That’s a horrible name, but, alas, it has stuck.

Today I’m back at the writing and it feels good. I’ve missed the routine, the story. I definitely had some crises of confidence while on the road, but that always seems to go hand in hand with not writing. I get why people stop writing. I get why people never start. I get why people get mired in the middle of their work and give up.

A little Google search on “giving up writing” yields plenty of blog posts like this one or this one. Here is a quote from Joyce Carol Oates that sums it up pretty well:

I have forced myself to begin writing when I’ve been utterly exhausted, when I’ve felt my soul as thin as a playing card, when nothing has seemed worth enduring for another five minutes . . . and somehow the activity of writing changes everything. Or appears to do so.
(“Joyce Carol Oates” in George Plimpton, ed., Women Writers at Work: The Paris Review Interviews, 1989)

Amen. Off to write.


Of Northeastern Islands

Fire Island Lighthouse, Robert Moses Beach, NY

Fire Island Lighthouse before Sunset by Jim Dohms

We arrived on Mount Desert Island, Maine (close to Somes Pond on the map) last night after leaving Long Island, New York yesterday morning.

“The Island” is home to my Uncle Eddie, who collects and sells books on ebay. As we left he hooked us up with a box of books including Cervantes’ Don Quixote,  an omnibus of the Bronte Sisters’ work, a Mark Twain reader, and a heap more. Paper Gold!

We took the Bridgeport & Port Jefferson Ferry to Connecticut and motored north. The trip was fairly uneventful, especially after our traffic extravaganza heading on to Long Island Sunday night.

I’ve always enjoyed boats and all things related to sea/river/lake travel. I have a feeling there will be some water based stuff surfacing in my writing sooner rather than later.

I was able to write a bit on the way up to Long Island while my lovely wife drove and my daughter nodded off to sleep for a little bit. I took one more day off than I had intended, but I just finished up a session of about 1300 words. Hopefully some of them make sense.

Plate I of Gustave Dorés illustrations to Miguel de Cervantes Don Quixote. From Chapter I.

Plate I of Gustave Doré's illustrations to Miguel de Cervantes' Don Quixote. From Chapter I.

I think it’s time for a Come to Jesus Meeting with the manuscript. I’m a bit adrift right now because story lines are at the point where they are beginning to join. I need to make some decisions on major story arcs and turning points, but still maintain flexibility with the whole deal. Good times.
It’s definitely harder for me to maintain continuity while on the road, but at least I’m getting my writing in. For me, that’s huge.