I’m trying to finish this thesis. And by finish, I mean finish a draft of the novel to revise and then revise again, and maybe again and again. I am finding, though, the longer form I write, the different my writing becomes. I feel like the first draft, as I write, gets more and more “publishable”—maybe it’s because I’m more in the heads of the characters, maybe it’s because I did a research trip in San Francisco for it, or maybe it’s because I know what I’m going to change in earlier parts of the draft and am writing toward that change. Regardless of the reason, the writing is getting better in the first draft, and I’m excited about this.
What I wanted to write about today, though, is how writing never leaves the writer.
Recently, I took a trip to St. Louis for Easter. It’s about a five-and-a-half hour ride from Chicago via Amtrak. I brought my thesis material with me, not necessarily thinking I’d have time to write a lot, but hoping I would have time to write some. The ride down proved fruitless—a rude contingent of thirty passengers thought the train was theirs and ran a murder mystery game for three hours while other passengers tried to work or sleep (the train left at 7 a.m.). It got so bad (I mean, they were LOUD) that I Googled the game to try to find the solution—had I been able to find the spoiler of the game and not just the actual game itself (my Google skills are pretty good, but not good enough to find the killer), I would have spoiled the fun for all of them for the sake of the other thirty passengers that had complained to the conductor to no avail. If I don’t finish my thesis on time, Amtrak should allow me to do one of their residencies.
On the ride home, I took the measly 480 words I wrote on the way down and added over 3,300. The ideas were flowing, the characters were telling me where to take them, and I knew I was getting to the lynchpin scene of the novel, the one I’ve avoided writing for months.
And then I went out to L.A. to visit the dudefriend. He had to work, so I spent two days writing (and doing other work, like grading). Writing by hand. I didn’t want to schlep my laptop around the city (or bring it to the beach—sorry I’m not sorry, Chicago, but I wrote on Santa Monica Beach while it was in the forties back home. I got a sunburn, so I guess don’t be too jealous), so I wrote by hand. I got over six pages written (each page I hand write is about 300-350 words, so I estimate that I wrote 2000 words), and I used my time on the flight to and will use time on the flight from L.A. to get more writing done.
Writing never leaves you. Whether it is taking a journal to a museum (which is what I did in the top photo) or to the beach, you never know when inspiration will strike. I was on the train a few weeks ago and started writing an essay that I am itching to get back to, and last week, I was on the train headed to work and wrote an entire poem (I have no clue if it is any good—incoming students to the program are lucky because they will be able to take poetry courses as fiction majors!)
Another thing I do if I don’t have my notebook with me is take notes in my phone. I have strange lists and phrases in my phone, and sometimes I am perplexed, but usually I am inspired to write something.
I’ll leave you with a photo of the Getty. For some reason, walking around a museum always inspires me. This museum is beautiful and a work of art itself. There are many seats and benches outside, overlooking Los Angeles and the surrounding area, and it is rife for getting you in the writing mood. Good luck writing, all!
I’m trying to finish this thesis. And by finish, I mean finish a draft of the novel to revise and then revise again, and maybe again and again. I am …