I can write anywhere; I’ve been told that’s a talent. I never considered it anything but a little freakish and further proof of social awkwardness, but I also never considered my stories worthy of sharing or that anyone but me could ever appreciate the strange, little world in my head. Just give me a pencil and a notebook, and no matter what is going on around me, I am content. I dive into the recesses of my mind and tune out everything else, and the world falls away.
I have written in the midst of rehearsal. Anytime I was not needed onstage, I’d plop down anywhere and pick up a scene wherever I’d left off, even with people chattering and walking around me. It’s always funny because someone will inevitably come along and say, “What are you working on, Michelle? Another novel?” And I’ll have to stop mid-line and answer, dragged back into the world of reality. But it’s like I hit a pause button in the ongoing saga in my head, and as soon as I’m left alone again, I resume right where I left off and never miss a beat. I’ve always had the thought that my novel is already written; I’m just putting the words down on paper. With that idea in mind, I never feel like I can go wrong. I’m just the instrument for my story.
I have written in the few minutes of passing period between classes in school, literally sucking every word out of every possible second. I never wanted to waste a single minute. I’ve even written during class, which is not something I recommend if it’s a class where attention must be duly given. But sometimes in performance class when we were supposed to be an audience for each other, I admit to sneaking my notebook out and getting a few paragraphs in. I suppose compared to others who’d be quietly whispering or messing with their phones, my offense was innocent. As a school obsessed, straight-laced student, my greatest crime was working on a novel at every second. Not really detention-worthy, I suppose.
I have written while feeding an infant, balancing the bottle with my chin and propping my notebook on the armrest; I’ve also used something akin to that position to type an entire novel during my baby’s bottle time. It always amazed me what I could manage to get done with a baby in arms if I was determined enough!
I have written in moving cars while traveling on vacation (I don’t recommend that if you are prone to car sickness because I managed to give myself a headache and will not be trying that again!). I have written on planes; I spent the entire ride on my recent trip to Colorado lost in a story to avoid any sound the plane wanted to make. I have written on the beach, and subsequently, got sand trapped between my notebook pages. I have written on a screened-in porch overlooking the ocean; almost all of “A Revenant’s Love Story” was written to the background of rolling waves. I have written in random hotel rooms on random trips in many states, curled in their armchair while my kids ran back and forth through the room, happy to be out of the car and shrieking so loud we were lucky not to get thrown out of the hotel.
I have written at every possible time of day. At college age, I preferred late at night and would get a lot done while waiting for my boyfriend and future husband to give his nightly call, at an hour I now never see on the dark side of it. As I’ve gotten older and had kids, I’ve learned to prefer the early morning before anyone is awake. I’m happily up at 4:30AM to work, but that’s not always enough for me. Any extra second in an over-packed day is subject to be filled with the scratching of my pencil on a blank piece of paper. Whether it’s mid-afternoon or the middle of the night; “Opera Macabre” was started at 3:30 in the morning one night when my insomnia was preventing me from sleeping. Any hour is a canvas for creativity if it strikes.
I write, no matter the time, no matter the place, no matter the way the world of reality is shifting on any particular day. My imaginary place doesn’t need a specific ambience to take me away.
But for that special time at 4:30 in the morning when all is quiet but my coffee maker, I do have a spot that beats everywhere else I’ve been. I made the perfect place for imagination and creativity to blossom. My bedroom walls are covered in quotes and pictures, everything I’ve ever seen or heard that I find inspiration in. And one specific corner, my “snow” corner is where my writing chair resides. The walls surrounding it are laden in more quotes, and when I’m finding myself at a loss for the correct words I want or the way to move forward, sometimes I sit back and read the walls for awhile. All of my favorites are there: from Susan Kay’s “Phantom” to anything by the Brontë sisters to song lyrics that make pictures in my head to even some of my own scenes. I wrote them all out on blue and purple legal pad paper, ripped the edges, and glued them to the random, mismatched paper stapled to the walls. I pity my husband and father because if we ever need to take my walls apart, I know the sort of damage I’ve done and what it will take to fix them…again! At our old house, I did something similar to one wall, and taking it down meant a mélange of holes and glue streaks, missing chunks of dry wall; that staple gun is a powerful toy!
My corner is my special place, but my creativity is not limited to its walls. It goes anywhere I go, and when I’m in the middle of writing a story, it overtakes me at every unoccupied second. Whether it is offstage at rehearsal or while I am keeping an eye on the dinner cooking on the stove, I write. I never want to waste a moment when that moment could have a dozen words in it. And maybe that ties back in with my obsessions in life, and writing is almost another one because I have no idea why I feel I have to do it. I just do it. But if the stories I’m telling are important and touching the lives of strangers I’ve never met, then I will happily be a slave to my writing bug for the rest of my life. If nothing else, it makes sure I’m never bored!