Friday, July 16, 2010

Writerly Fantasies

I've always had a lot of writerly fantasies, but they're probably not the kind you're thinking of.

Or that kind either.

I'm not talking about the kind where I see my name atop the New York Times bestseller list or take a podium before an adoring crowd to accept the Newberry. Or even the kind where normal folks line up fifteen deep, waiting for me to autograph books and body parts. I mean weird fantasies about the actual act of writing itself.

These often involve me with a pen and notebook (for some reason, my writerly fantasies are always low-tech) in some ridiculously windswept setting, scribbling furiously. I stop every few minutes to look out onto the wonder of the world. I sob. I laugh. I pace angrily and tear at my hair, then run back to the notebook and write some more. The words are always there, and before long, crinkled pages are filled with paragraph after paragraph of prose. You can always tell just from looking at the pages how much it cost to write them, how dramatic the view was. Words are crossed out angrily. Things like "MORE! MORE! YES!" and "WHY WON'T YOU DIE, YOU BASTARD!" are written in the margins.

It's a masterpiece.

The most intense of my writerly fantasies always seem connected to travel. Me and the notebook on a train rolling across the Midwest. In a jet cabin with lightning on the horizon. On a bridge in Spain (seriously, wtf, Spain?). Naturally, this means that every time I travel, I dutifully pack my spiral notebook and pen and look forward to those moments on Lake Michigan.

Reality sets in later. I've never written a single word in a notebook while I'm traveling, except once and it was complete crap. Mostly, I just carry the notebook around and feel guilty every time I have to shuffle past it to get fresh socks. But the truth is, I'd feel a little naked without that notebook, without at least the glimmer of a possibility that a bout of shaggy brilliance might break out at any time.

Later today, we're leaving for a weeklong vacation, and you can rest assured that my notebook will be in my bag. But I'm pretty sure this time will be different.

8 comments:

Jude Hardin said...

I'm traveling next week, and will also have a notebook packed. :)

Jon VanZile said...

But will you actually use it? If so, you will have earned my lifelong envy.

Jude Hardin said...

Probably not. That's the thing--we seem to share similar delusions, LOL.

Erica Orloff said...

I absolutely LOVED THIS. Just perfect. Should be an essay in Writer's Digest or something.

Enjoy your vacation. Hope you write in your notebook.

Kath Calarco said...

'Tis a beautiful fantasy, merely missing the brandy dripping down walls (don't all writers toss their drinks across the room?). Love it!

Strangely, I've written one-third of a manuscript by hand, in a college ruled spiral note-book. Not by choice, mind you. I never thought I'd see the day where I'd push a pen and sense would appear somewhere along the line. Yet, there I was with a crippled cornea. Doc said, "Stay the hell away from the computer screen!" or something such as that. Apparently we don't blink when staring at a screen, and if I wanted full recovery for suffering cornea, I had to follow orders.

Long story short, I resorted to pen and pad. A very surreal experience, like dropping your camera and picking up a paintbrush.

Enjoy the weekend! It's hotter than a mo-fo here in western New York State. Icky-sticky.

Natasha Fondren said...

Yeah, I've always wanted to be one of those writers on a Paris street corner, in an outdoor cafe, scribbling away in a notebook. Sheesh, I can't even write a freakin' sentence longhand without my arm and wrist muscles going, "WTF is this?"

That said, I do bring a notebook everywhere and I do use it to jot down ideas and the like. No prose, though. Sentences only come by way of laptop.

Melanie Avila said...

I have those fantasies too. I took a train from Chicago to Detroit last winter and I was so excited to write while passing snow-covered plains. Unfortunately I was sitting behind the engine and had fumes so bad I actually threw up on the train. No writing for me.

Now, if you are vacationing on Lake Michigan and didn't tell me I will have to hurt you. :)

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