Writing novels isn’t easy. Back in the olden days . . . I know, haha. But seriously, things have been interesting lately. After a hundred (or more) years of writing day in and day out (well, at least thinking about writing day in and day out), I’ve slowed down a bit.
Age? Apathy? Lack of ideas? Any of those excuses seemed plausible. Until this past weekend.
I’d planned a quick, off-island visit to a friend on her birthday. But I left the Vineyard later than I’d hoped, and stayed longer than I’d intended. I soon realized I needed to spend the night on the Cape. Hmmm.
Could I do that on a moment’s notice? Really? It would have been easy when I was twenty. But now?
I had no toothbrush, no toothpaste, and, God forbid, no make-up in my purse. I did have a book to read and, for some reason, a notebook—the kind with pages of lined paper inside. Remember those?
I reasoned that it could be an adventure, and I’ve always liked those. Yes! I could do it! Surely I could find a CVS in the morning where a few purchases would allow me to be seen in public.
I texted another friend: He offered the use of his home that was vacant. He apologized that the place does not have a TV or Internet connection, but this was an adventure, right?
Feeling proud of myself, I drove up the driveway to his house, then suddenly slammed on the brakes.
“NO!” I wailed. “I CAN’T DO THIS!”
Well, of course, I couldn’t. After all, I did not have the most essential item of all: my phone charger. My link to the world of e-mails and texts, and, dare I say, Words with Friends.
I yanked my iPhone from my purse. Thirty-three-percent power. It would not last the night, let alone until I got home the next day. But it was too late to find an Apple store or a place that sells those self-charging do-dads. I sat in silence, heart lightly pounding, brain calculating. If I drove an average of 132mph and got all the green lights, I might make it to Woods Hole for the last boat back to the island. Argh. I dropped my forehead onto the steering wheel. I was doomed.
After a few seconds of feeling sorry for myself, I pried my face up. For some reason (there’s that comment again), I glanced at the passenger seat. There was the book I could read. But more importantly, there was the notebook.
I used to write that way. With pen, paper, and nothing but quiet. No pings, no chimes, no alerts. Just me. In my thoughts. In the quiet. I’d written 17 novels that way.
I put my foot back on the gas and drove up to the house. I found the key and let myself in. Four hours later I had outlined twelve chapters of a new book. I don’t know if anything will become of it, but it sure felt good. Great, in fact.
I think I’ll stay unplugged for a little while longer. And see what happens when I have no more excuses.