Tuesday, June 29, 2010

In Which Rachel Tells of Her Office Woes, and Flirts With TL;DR

If any of you follow me on Twitter, then you know I had a VERY TRAUMATIC EVENT happen this weekend: Small Son murdered my laptop.

Okay, so he didn't mean to, which technically makes it 2nd degree murder, or maybe even manslaughter, but STILL. My precious laptop, only a year old, was dead deadity dead dead. If you are easily upset by graphic photos, look away now.


Luckily, almost all of my work was backed up on a jump drive, and what WASN'T backed up digitally is written in a notebook, so the loss was minimal. But as a writer, that laptop was like my wubby. I wrote DEMONGLASS on it. I wrote a LOT of REBEL BELLE on it. That laptop was good to me, and seeing it die made me full of The Sad.

But it also got me thinking about what a superstitious crew we writer-types are. I'm not one of those "must have THIS pen, and THIS chair, and THIS caffeinated beverage or NO WRITING EVER!" people, but I do tend to get weird when the writing is going....not well.

When writing is amazing, and words are flowing, and lo, the flowers and sausages do sing, I can write anywhere. HEX HALL was written on a metal folding table in my bedroom (and in the back booth of the Athens, Alabama Starbucks. And on the couch. And crouched in a toddler-sized chair at the preschool where I worked for awhile.)

REBEL BELLE was mostly written at a coffee shop in Opelika, AL that favors VERY LOUD Christian rock (YAY FOR EARBUDS).

DEMONGLASS was written at a back table in the children's section of the public library.

In other words, I don't need a "special space" in which to write a book.

I know this.

And yet... oh, blog readers. AND. YET.

When writing is not going so hot, I become CONVINCED that if I just had the right desk/chair/computer/recliner/office/Feng Shui Master ALL WOULD BE WELL! Books would POUR FORTH from my fingers! I would write so much that I would require my VERY OWN SECTION in the bookstore!(This is what we in the biz like to call "delusional thinking.")

Now, we live in a small-ish, 3 bedroom house. That's one bedroom for me and The Husband, one for Small Son, and the 3rd that serves as both our guest room and The Husband's office. Why does The Husband get his own office and I don't? Well...let's just say I've taken over the rest of the house (Seriously. Our bedroom is purple. I in no way begrudge the man his space.)

I claimed what should probably be the dining room as my "office," but I hardly ever write in there. For one thing, it's a very open area. For another, there are GIANT WINDOWS in there that mean it is my MORAL DUTY to use them to get all "Rear Window" on my neighbors.

"Why are you taking out the trash TWICE this week, People Across the Street? Is it because you have...A DEAD BODY IN THERE?"

When I started prepping HEX HALL 3: TRIPLE HEXXX, I decided that I WOULD write in my office, and suppress the need to narc on my neighbors (although, if you're reading this, Neighbors: I AM ONTO YOU.) But this meant that my office-which had by this point become Hex Hall Central, complete with author copies, and t-shirts, and magazines all over the place- needed a re-haul.

I moved my little desk into my bedroom, and made plans to buy a Ginormous Desk of Awesome from Office Max. I also decided I needed a Ginormous Computer of Awesome rather than my usual Wee Laptop of Fantastico (TM Josh Berk.)

And then, for a whole month, my office just...sat there. I didn't buy a desk. I didn't buy a computer. I didn't make any attempt at de-junkifying it.

And I didn't write.

"I caaaaaan't," I would say. "I'm waiting to get my desssssk. And new compuuuuuuter."

Then The Husband, Small Son, and I went to Maine. I brought my laptop, but had no real plans of writing while there. I also tossed a notebook and pen into my purse, just in case I felt like jotting down any ideas. One afternoon, Small Son was napping, and The Husband was using my laptop, so I decided to take a walk down to the beach. I took my purse just in case I wanted to stop at any of the shops along the way, totally forgetting that I had pen and paper in there. Once I got to the ocean, I found a less-than-comfortable spot on a big rock, and settled in the watch the waves.

And while I was sitting there, a scene came to me of a boy and a girl, saying good-bye on a rock by the sea. I didn't know who they were, only that they'd just been on a pretty awesome journey together, and now they had to part. What was worse, they were just figuring out that they might be kind of, just a little bit, starting to fall in love with each other. And neither had any idea how to say that.

Suddenly, I was digging in my purse for that notebook, and within 30 minutes, I had over a thousand words. It was the most new material I'd written in months.

And I'd done it with no fancy desk, no brand new, sexy computer. Nothing but a plan ol' Mead notebook and a Bic pen.

The problem had never been that my office was wrong; the problem was in all the HEX HALL release stuff, I'd gotten caught up in AUTHORDOM, and needed time to relax and find my way back to WRITERDOM.

When I got back from Maine, I moved my tiny desk back from the bedroom into my office. I cleaned up all the junk, but other than that, my office looks just the same as it did. Some days I write there. And some days, you can find me at Starbucks, drinking iced Americanos like my life depends on it. Other days, I'm that weird chick muttering to herself at a table in the library.

The point is: the space where I'm sitting doesn't really matter. The space that my head is in means the world. If you're waiting to write that book until you can get your own office/your own computer/your own Magic Cave of Writing, Complete With Vending Machine That Dispenses Ice Cream and Coffee and Genius- DON'T. Books can be written anywhere and everywhere, so long as the spirit is willing.

And now, if you've actually made it to the end of this ENTIRELY TOO LONG POST, I give you pictures of my office where books are (occasionally) written.

My Grammy's couch, where I do most of my writing. This couch is actually FAMOUS as it makes an appearance on page 42 of HEX HALL. No lie.

Portrait of James Dean painted by my super talented sister-in-law. Sometimes, when I'm stuck, I ask Jimmy what I should write next. And he says, "How the hell should I know? I died like 25 years before you were born, Crazy Lady." Fair point, JD.

Tiny Desk of Tiny. Still, big enough for brand new laptop, Lady Sophia Harper, Her Hexiness! (Yes. I named my new computer. DO NOT JUDGE ME.)

My chief distraction...

Bookshelf O'Research And Tiaras


The overview...

God knows I try...

Every writer should have this tattooed on his/her body. Or at least on a magnet in his/her office.


Lynsey Newton said...

Fabulous post Rachel and JUST what I needed. I've been making excuses for far too long.

Also, I like the idea you had on the beach already and I, j hope you turn it into a book as I'd quite like to read something like that, just sayin'. I had a random idea come to me the other day at a theme park as I was waiting for the boyf to finish on the rollercoasters (yes I am a scaredy cat). Now I just need to write it ;)

Angel said...

Great post! I'm working on novel #1 right now and sometimes I have to remind myself that writing on my couch in my pajamas can accomplish JUST as much as writing in a fancy office (that I do NOT have).

Emily a.k.a WilowRaven : ) said...

Nice post :) I love that you were able to write on a rock. That is pretty awesome.

Sorry about the computer! If it's only the screen that is busted you might be able to a) hook it up to an external monitor or b) remove the hard drive to recover the data. (my hubby does this kind of stuff for a living).

Love the couch!

Happy Writing!!

Elizabeth Briggs said...

Love the photos!

Like Emily said, you can probably get everything off the laptop if the hard drive is fine. My computer also died recently but I was able to transfer everything off it and onto my new computer. The only thing that gave me any trouble was iTunes. Good luck!

Laura said...

I've stalked your blog for a long time, but the time has come to comment. Your posts are so inspiring! I'm relatively new at the writing game, and your posts always help me in the midst of my 'AHHH! I can't do this!' moments. Thanks, and I can't wait to read Rebel Belle and Hex Hall 2!!!

Aimee Bartis said...

lovely post! It's always interesting to me the excuses I use when the words aren't flowing. They are trashed when the words come. And, upon reflection, the not coming usually has to do with where my head's at. I'm learning to give myself permission to not write when my head's not right but not use it as an excuse. I know that doesn't make sense but somehow it works.
And, BTW, LOVE, LOVE, QUADRUPLE LUTZ LOVE that painting of James Dean. It is so full of the fabulous and captures he Jimmy Dean-ness wonderfully.

Anonymous said...

Your book is AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I finished it in 2 days. I just couldnt put your freakin awsome book down!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for such an honest post!

There were a lot of items I found interesting (famous couch, new story idea at beach, office vs. no office), but what I found most interesting of all is that I have the same replica of the Keep Calm and Carry On poster in small size posted at my desk at the library. Well, mine is more of the poster just printed off the internet and laminated by me but... it still serves the same purpose. When I first printed it off about two years ago, I was certain that I was the ONLY person in the whole entire world who had thought about posting this poster by his or her desk. Clearly, I was wrong, but in a good, most human experience is kinda of the same kind of way....Thanks!

Ashley from the Library

Katrina W said...

Reading your blog was like deja vu.. smashed laptop!!! notebook in bag. But the differnce I am not an author, love to read, have billions of notes written down but no real grunt!! lol Maybe some day Ill be able to just put more to paper than just a few ideas. but keeps me happy just to read books like yours !! ;) and books in general.. so mabye next time whilst taking kids to the beach i may just venture off to find the most uncomfortable rock i can find and see what the sea breeze brings me ;)
Great post !
thanks Katrina

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