I write because it keeps me off the streets

People think I’m kidding when I say that. I swear I would roam Suburban Detroit like a feral cat looking to pick fights, bloody noses, and bust up car windows if I didn’t write. I get restless and I bore easily (a terrifying combination to consider when inviting me out to visit for a week) so if the company I’m keeping wants to prattle on about golf or their new button fetish, I tend to wonder if there’s tile or concrete under the carpet and if the best possible way to find out is with a broken femur (found, of course) or my car keys.

When I’m not actively writing, I’m thinking about writing – ideas, plots, dialogue, stories. I like to write these thoughts down, sometimes to keep from talking to people, but mostly to not forget these precious gems.  The amount of notebooks I carry in my backpack used to rival the number of paperbacks I used to carry and the reasoning is simple – because I’m so easily bored, I’d hate to want to read or write and have the wrong notebook or paperback handy. My whims are specific. The paperback issue was solved with the advent of the Sony Reader. I have a PRS-500, which suits my needs just fine, my only quibble being no scroll function. I have 36 novels and anthologies loaded so I always have something to ignore people with.

I’m still working out the notebook issue.

All of my ideas begin life longhand in either blank journals or Moleskines. I write raw material better longhand because I don’t hassle with editing; it’s all a matter of getting the words and ideas out as fast as possible. I also like the paper quality and the little black books make me happy. I used to have one for every project I was working on but you can imagine how many notebooks that would be.  As it stands right now, I have over twenty-seven blank books, some Moleskine, some not, written in varying degrees.  That is a lot of books to be carrying in a small backpack, along with my laptop bag, the the large blue notebook with the screenplay/novel, peripherals, etc…  My back problems can be traced directly to this.

I am too anal to just give in and let my notebooks be an all encompassing dump, because my thoughts are way too scattered.  My first reporter style Moleskine is just that kind of book – random pictures, song lists,
and chapters, snippets, dialogue and ideas from seven different stories.  I write things down to not forget them, and when I need to reference what I’ve written down by paging through 160 pages of brain detritus, the frustration level is palpable.  Let’s not even factor in my attention span.  I’m looking for my notes on the Orkney Islands, my eyes fall across the written line, “stick legs and torpedo boobs”, which makes me wonder what the heck I was thinking, a few more flips and there’s a pasted picture of my Inner Badass, pages and pages of CDI, and in the space of 15 seconds, I’ve completely forgotten what I was searching for.  Goldfish have longer memories.

I have six Moleskines now, designated for specific projects and the live with me at all times.  Anyone want to guess how often they get accessed?  Yeah, it’s still an issue.

Basically, there is no one method I can work with.  Too many separate notebooks means I begin renting a pack mule, and too few means I blow my writing time reminiscing about ideas I haven’t written about because I’m too busy lying in the middle of Memory lane blocking traffic thinking about what I need to be writing and what notebook to use.

Once I get going, though, I can knock out 3-4,000 words at a sitting, or several pages of handwritten notes and story. It’s not a perfect system.  At all.

However, all of this keeps me off the streets, which for the greater good, is more than an equitable trade off. I just don’t get a whole lot done, or worse it takes me much much longer to do it.

I am accepting any and all suggestions.