I’ve learned to write anywhere, at any time. A number of the books I read purporting to explain how best to cultivate the writing life claim that it is best to have a particular time and place in which to write. Supposedly, the muse rewards those who show up regularly, and grounding yourself one place, one time focuses your efforts – makes you more efficient. I’m willing to agree that yes, that would be best, but it’s not always realistic.
While a college student, such advice made me laugh. Different class times every semester, different dorm every year, home during the summer, varying job schedule. Post-graduation wasn’t much different, with two part-time positions to juggle. It is only now, in the wake of marriage and settling into a new home that I have something resembling a permanent spot: a room in which to place my books, my desk, and my clay mug full of pens.
It’s rather nice, I think.
It’s strange, after so many years of teaching myself to carry a notebook everywhere – a writing utensil tucked into some pocket or other – so I could scribble at a moment’s notice. I never knew when the opportunity to write might strike, and so came prepared to each party, theater, car ride, boring job, or dull class lecture. My relatives poke gentle fun, but I’ve only regretted not having a pen and paper handy: never that I brought the tools of my trade along.
Stories are written sentence by sentence, page after page, and if enough of these sentences are jotted down while there’s a lull in conversation, a book is made. When not working on a particular project, notebooks fill with descriptions of my family, my friends, our homes and traditions, my thoughts on the turning of the earth. I’m still young, and my brain still calls up old memories easily enough, but it won’t always be so, and I expect to be thankful for the records, someday, even if they required a little extra time in the corner, being silent, listening.
Now that I have a spot, though, I will be using this summer to teach myself to write in one place. I will see if it’s true what they say about the muse – that it comes to those who are constant, faithful, and easy to find.
But I will also carry a pen and paper, in case I stumble across the muse while out and about. Perhaps we can wander together, discussing stories.
It’s the best kind of conversation.