Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Comfy cozy does it.

By R.J. Harlick

Agatha Christie fueled the muse by munching apples in the bathtub, Jack Kerouac typed On the Road on an endless scroll. James Joyce laid on his stomach in bed, wearing a white coat, holding a blue pencil. Are there tricks you use to get yourself into that space where everything just flows onto the page?

Maybe if I dyed my hair purple and wore fluffy pink rabbit slippers with scarlet paisley tights and flung a feather boa around my neck, the muse might flow. Or what about a bottle of scotch kept within elbow length of my keyboard? They say many a great writer wrote their best work, pickled. I could try the bathtub thing, but better yet transport myself to some South Seas lagoon, prop my computer on an air mattress and float on the lapping waves with a g & t at the ready. Surely the words would flow then. Actually, I’m more likely to tip the mattress into the water and drown those flowing words along with my computer.

But fun aside, I think most of us have our routines, our little rituals that help put us into the writing mood.

I admire those writers that can spring out of bed in the morning, rush to their computer and begin pouring it out. Not me. My brain’s too fuzzy.  I need my caffeine fix. I need to wake myself up over a lingering breakfast while I catch up on the latest happenings in the world and my own. A walk with the dogs, particularly on a fine weather morning goes a long way to putting me in the writing mood.

I mustn’t forget my writing clothes. I’ve never worn scarlet paisley tights or a feather boa, though I will admit they sound like fun. I’m afraid my attire is pretty basic and very boring with one key requirement, comfy; comfy cozy in the winter and comfy cool in the summer. I more or less wear the same kind of clothes day in and day out; in winter, loose fitting sweat pants, long-sleeved t-shirts and cashmere cardigans for extra cozy warmth and in summer, shorts and t-shirts, colourful t-shirts. And on my feet, instead of fluffy pink rabbit slippers, I wear soft comfy moccasins. Like I said, I’m into comfy. It helps free the muse… or that’s the idea. I tossed out the high heels, the tight skirts, the suit jackets and silk shirts and those godawful nylon stockings, the day I left the business world and haven’t had a day’s regret.

Rarely do I sit down with my computer and dive right into my writing. No, I have my rituals I usually go through, like checking email, the latest headlines, Facebook and so on, liberally lubricated with mugs of steaming hot tea. Nope, there is no scotch bottle lurking under the desk. I’m afraid if I imbibed, I would put myself to sleep for the rest of the day. Eventually I turn to my writing and so begins another day. As for whether the words flow onto the page? Sometimes they do and sometimes they don’t. Whether they do or not, doesn’t matter. I just keep at it until I feel I have written enough for the day.

I have found over the years, where I write is also good for the muse. I write best at my log cabin deep within the Quebec woods, either in the screened-in porch or in front of a crackling fire. It helps put me in Meg’s frame of mind.

Speaking of Meg, she’ll be appearing once again in Purple Palette for Murder due out in October, just in time for Bouchercon. It’s now available for pre-order on any online bookseller site.


Unknown said...

I'm with Terry, as soon as I start on FB or other world news I'm too distracted or upset to write. But I'm with you on the comfiness. YOu have to feel as invisible as possible when you write, and that's impossible when you're shrink-wrapped in nylon. :P Viva baggy clothes!

Paul D. Marks said...

I'm like you, RJ, I have my rituals before I start to write, FB being one. And sometimes it can be a little too distracting. But it's all part of the game. Staying in touch with people helps the writing in other ways.

Dietrich Kalteis said...

I like the sound of a log cabin deep in the Quebec woods — a quiet place without all the white noise of the city. That and the fluffy pink rabbit slippers.