Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Using the moments between now and next...

I have always maintained that I can write anywhere. If I was the kind of writer who could only create in a silent study with the door closed, I'd never have been published.
Me with my Mac in Perlis State Park a few days back
The formative writing years crafting my skills were to the background of children's squabbles, and constant interruptions. Later, the years as a published writer coincided with my career working on projects to do with the ornithological component of the Malaysian rainforest. That meant loads of travel -- by boat, plane, car or on foot with a backpack; staying everywhere and anywhere, from 5 star accommodation complete with imported Dead Sea salts in the marble bathroom (I kid you not), to a tent in a peat swamp complete with bears raiding the food in the middle of the night (not kidding there, either); from bathing in a stagnant water pool half a kilometre away down a steep slope, to sleeping on bare concrete floors in a hut full of sandflies.
This the the row of chalets where we were staying In Perlis State Park
 Fortunately or unfortunately, editors in far off places don't care what an author does in other facets of her life -- they want manuscripts handed in on time, copy edits done in a turn around of two weeks, proof reading completed in a couple of days. So, a wise writer with another job learns not to be too picky about writing environments and to write in airports or trains if that's what it takes, copy edit by candlelight if need be, and do the proofs at lunchtime in Starbucks. Or worse. (I seem to remember reading somewhere that Jane Austen wrote at boring family  gatherings by standing at the mantelshelf scribbling in her notebook, but I can't remember the reference to check it...)
The view out of the back door after rain
Luckily, our recent trip to Perlis State Park up near the Thai border was a lovely place to write. My husband was taking students on field work; I tagged along and wrote.
The chalet in the evening
What better place than on that little porch overlooking the stream? (Usually the water is clearer than that, but it was raining.)
The view out of the front door
The journey to Perlis is long -- more than 500 kms -- but most of it is straight highway and a smooth run. so when I wasn't driving, I wrote, achieving about 1,000 words going up and a similar number on the way back.
From the back porch
View from the bedroom window
Sometimes seats and table for writers are provided...
Ok, so on this trip I lucked out!
It's not always so good. But learn to use a few minutes here, and a few minutes there. Learn to shut out the noise and the curious glances. Learn to write when you aren't necessarily comfortable, when you have to watch out for the leeches (yeah, Perlis State Park after rain was rife with them, even in the chalet!).  Becoming a published writer isn't easy, especially for someone who already has a job. It takes time and effort. So learn to use the moments in between here and there, between now and next... 
They mount up, those minutes -- and so do the words.

3 comments:

lifewithoutfear said...

Really valuable advice, thank you! Yes, we don't always have the luxury of an enclosed study with our perfect music and perfect writing chair :) - Chris Kouju

Jo said...

What you achieve in those few moments is certainly worth reading and therefore, to me, worth all your discomfort LOL.

Anonymous said...

I adore your writing..... perhap the masses are not in tune with your style. THEIR MISFORTUNE.
Stay frosty you are the bomb.
joe