How I Write

Everyone has quirks.

Everyone has patterns they fall into again and again.

Everyone has conditions they like to see satisfied.

My research supervisor wrote both poetry and particle physics. He once told me that he listened to blaring opera for the particle physics. I'm not sure how he wrote poetry. I doubt the recipe was any different.

I would like to say that the words just pour out of me when I'm writing, that the blank pages fill with pixels before my very eyes like magic. It doesn't happen that way though, not usually, not for me. Rarely, perhaps, but the typical process is much different and depends on many things, most notably my state of mind. I have to become lost in my own inner workings. Another precondition seems to be that some idea has to have been rolling around in my head for so long that I just have to get it out before it drives me mad. I may have a few notes scribbled on an envelop to help me out, or typed into my cellphone, rolled into a mnemonic, or otherwise recorded using whatever medium was available at the time. 

The biggest obstacle to writing: there is no time. 

For anything.

Life is busy, and so almost all of my writing happens during the minutes, the tens of minutes, and if I'm lucky, an hour or two in between everything else. It happens when I am up in the middle of the night, sleepless, and when I am waiting alone in my vehicle. It happens when I don't expect it. It happens after dinner when, with a glass of red wine in hand, I might be able to sneak away into our back room. The "Great Room," I call it. And it is a great room. It's about 26 feet long by 26 feet wide, with a red hardwood floor and a twelve foot ceiling at its center that slopes down parallel to the roof. It has a phonograph behind the bar and a milk crate of vinyl to go with it. Everything in that room is interesting to look at, from fantasy art to brightly colored metal bugs to resin casts of dinosaur bones and even a saber toothed tiger skull. A ceiling fan with a tree-stump for a base and antlers cupping light bulbs keeps the air from getting stale. A 400-year old table from Mexico holds my laptop and candelabra. There are big windows looking out onto farmland. 

And there is a sword hanging above the fireplace that I found buried in a construction site when I was ten years old. Yes, a sword. It was encased in cement and all the kids in the neighborhood tried to pull it free, but couldn't. When I tried, it slid out easily. I knew then that I would be king of the block from that day forward (OK ... just kidding about the last part, but I did find one).

That's another thing: letting yourself get carried away. You can always go back later and make better sense of what you wrote while chasing some elusive thought. You need that raw material. The raw material comes when you forget that you are typing, when you forget who is in the house or even who is in the room talking to you, when you forget all that is happening in the world except for the one thought you are chasing, the one idea that is so hard to catch you think it might not be worth the chase, that it might just slip away. But it is worth it. And it will slip away if you don't catch it right then and there. 

In essence, I just keep chasing. 

Where was I again?