Saturday, June 8, 2019

The Writer's Road

I suppose every writer has his or her own way of creating a new book.  I'm well aware that the weather affects my mood and therefore changes the way I write. After a soggy week of almost constant rain, flash flooding, and four-hour lightning and thunder barrages, I'm happy to report that the sun is shining brightly at my house. My porch flowers are lifting their soggy heads in delight, and two industrious spiders are creating new webs among my chive blossoms. The cats have curled up to nap in the sun puddles, while a neighborhood pooch is cavorting in leashed circles in the open area next door. All is apparently well in my world, and I was eager to get to work this morning.

Or so you might assume until you happen to stumble upon one of my workspaces--either mental ones or the physical desktops. I keep my Scrivener files on a new and powerful laptop computer out on my veranda, where I am surrounded with creature comforts--soft pillows, snacks, and three walls of windows looking out onto groves of cedar trees.  In that setting, I trust my words to flow, but this morning I find myself elsewhere.

For reasons too complicated to explain coherently, I do most of my internet research on an old desktop computer in my office. Here I'm surrounded by books, old notebooks, former tchotchkes that kept me on point with my historical period--everything from a jester's head on a feathered stick to a threatening gargoyle, a miniature civil war cannon, and a slave doll. My notes? On whatever scraps of paper come to hand. And my research topics? Also, purely random questions I need to answer.

What was the poison used on the pages of a forbidden book in "The Name of the Rose?" (Paris Green, aka arsenic) What herbs can be used to produce inching powder? (Dried baby's breath? Rose hips? Who knew!) Which order of nuns was most active in the United States after the Civil War? What facilities does a Veterinarian School need to have? What foods are traditionally served (or forbidden) on Jewish holidays? How does one address a rooky cop?

Recently an internet "factoid" has circulated, warning that people who drink their coffee black are most likely to have psychopathic tendencies. It's a silly idea, but there may be a germ of truth in it. As my mind jumps from one question to another, so does my focus. Heaven forbid anyone should explore my office, check my caches, or trace my browsing history!  The evidence of old coffee mugs with traces of some oily black potion would combine with the subject of my internet searches to condemn me for sure.

Nevertheless, I love this stage of creating a new book. A friend warned me yesterday that I was having entirely too much fun! So I am. The road a writer travels is a complicated one, and I wouldn't miss a single one of its crazy twists and turns.

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