Where don’t I write? is an easier question. I am blessed with not needing a special place or absolute silence or my special chair or what have you.
I spent 20 years in advertising. Writing in agencies where getting hit with a nerf dart or being on the wrong side of an Uzi water gun was a common occurrence. I once had an officemate who was right out of college and prattled on and on about life in her sorority. I can still tell you her sorority’s colors (pink and green) and give you details about the Spring Formal of 1987.
But I digress.
In the beginning of my writing career I had to write everyday. To be creative whether I felt like or not. Writer’s Block was not an option. When the client was showing up tomorrow to see story boards for a half-million dollar TV shoot, they damn well better be ready.
Hang with me. I swear I’m going somewhere with this.
If I was going to get everything done, not just on time but solid enough to pass muster with the clients’ wives (who invariably had an English or Philosophy or Folk Studies degree and had to approve my copy), I did not have the luxury of working solely at my desk. So I learned to write in cabs, in coffee shops, in Chinese restaurants. Early in my freelancing career I realized if I could write on planes and trains I could bill one client for travel time while billing another for the work I was accomplishing.
In the beginning I wrote on letter-sized pads of paper – please, no legal-size – preferably with blue ink although any thing except black ink was acceptable. And the pen had to glide, not drag, across the white, not yellow, paper. Don’t even get me started on pencils – although mechanical pencils are okay in a pinch. (And no, I don’t think I’m high-maintenance.)
Then in 1991, (prepare for unpaid advertisement) Apple changed my life for the 2nd time when they introduced their first laptop. I bought one and have typed nearly every word I have written since.
For two and half years, my son went to school 45 minutes away. My choice was lose 3 hours a day driving or gain an hour and half back by writing at Annie’s Coffeeshop where the owner gave me the password to access her personal router. (This was in the days before free wi-fi everywhere.) Unlike today’s Starbucks where writers routinely hang out, I was a novelty, and the regulars loved to tell me their stories. Bits and pieces of their lives – and many of their habits and quirks – have ended up in my plays.
I do write with music. Each play has its own soundtrack. And certain songs will transport me back to the time I was working on that particular play. Sometimes it’s a scene I struggled with. Or a character I was trying to understand. Or those break-thru “ah-ha” moments. Sometimes it’s the place where the writing overtook me and the words flowed from somewhere beyond me. But, again, with my hot pink headphones (neither of my kids will be caught dead with them so they stay where I left them) I can take my tunes anywhere I take my laptop.
I do have an office at my house. With ads and awards and reviews hanging on the walls. Both for inspiration and to remind me that I can do this when I struggle to find the words. My husband, an Environmental, Health and Safety professional, insisted on creating an ergonomically-designed workspace complete with a big monitor, a wireless mouse and keyboard, and the world’s most comfortable chair. That is where I work. Or to be more precise, that is where I’m supposed to work. But I’m just as likely to be found lounging on the couch, reclining in a chair on the back porch or waiting in carpool line. I’ve worked at the side of the pool, in a hospital waiting room, in the kitchen while cooking dinner and if Apple would invent a water-proof laptop, I’d write in the bathtub. (TMI?)
So where don’t I write? Hmmm, never while driving – although I have been known to call the answering machine and record dialogue that I can transcribe later. Never in church. Never in jail. And not while I’m walking.
I once whipped out my laptop at a Baltimore Orioles game – but to be fair I was writing ads for the Orioles at the time. How about you? Where is the most bizarre place you’ve written?