I had an almost physical pain in my stomach the morning of getting on the plane to arrive on time in California for Anechka's graduation. And I thought, "This is ridiculous. You'll have to travel more often in the future, naturally, because you'll get very rich and very famous soon, so what is this shit? Girl, you need to learn to write while you travel."
When I went on the Amtrak trip it was different. I had a room all on my own. It was a room on wheels, but it was a room for me alone where I could shut myself in and even ask for breakfast and lunch and dinner brought to me if I desired so. In other words, it was traveling while being spoiled rotten. This is different. This is traveling while being interrupted so I don't have long stretches of time where I can properly sink into my story. I have a half hour in the car while on the way to the airport, I have a couple hours on the plane, I might snatch another hour in the hotel before I have to leave and go places.
How do I create space for myself in all of this?
How do I keep it whole and not shattered?
GO TO THE MOON??
I don't know. I have very little experience in writing on the go. My writing routine is writing every day from the moment I wake up to the moment when my attention starts to stray, which is about from 9 AM till 2 PM, so roughly 5 hours with a few breaks for snacks and thinking and maybe doing a little research and looking at some pictures to give me ideas for how certain things look. I realize I won't be able to fit 5 hours of uninterrupted time into every day when I travel. What then? Well, I'll try the next best thing. I'll try to start writing as soon as I have some time to myself and break when needed and pick up as soon as I have time to myself again and then stop if I feel like my attention is gone for the day. I might last an hour, I might last longer.
There is another problem. I used to write to music, then I used to write in silence, now I write in silence while saying out loud what I write, and since I changed to this method, I haven't traveled. Now, imagine me sitting on the plane and shouting at the top of my lungs, "You white sumbitch! You know what I'm gone do to you? I'm gone cut off you dick and then I'm gone kill you!" This is all in Janna's voice, of course. I imagine they will ask me to shut up, at best. At worst, they will throw me off the plane. Hmm. I can try whispering, of course, but it's just not the same. When I'm alone in my writing cave, I get fully in character, I shout and I yell and I whisper and I cry and I plead and I laugh and I do all the things my characters do, including staging the actual murder poses, like lying on the floor or practicing slashes or using Royce as a prop to tackle and kill, that is, if he's home. Oy.
How do you guys do it? Any experienced traveling writers out there? I do recall reading in one of Hugh Howey's blog posts how he was weeping like a baby on the plane while writing, and the stewardess kept bringing him tissues. The problem with my writing is, I don't cry quietly. Well, sometimes I do, but sometimes it's loud. That's why I like everyone gone from the house during the day because I don't have to restrain myself then, or at least I don't feel like I have to. Otherwise I'm afraid someone will hear and come running asking if I'm okay, and my face saying, "Get the fuck out of here, I'm writing," and my mouth saying, "I'm fine. No, really, I am. Darling, would you mind just ignoring me? Thank you."
I guess all of this comes from fear. I remember how I used to break for weekends and what pain it was to pick up writing on Mondays. It was always accompanied by crying spells. I have stopped breaking for weekends and the crying spells left me. This trip will be 3 days and so that means for 3 days I'll be away from my story, unless I manage to find writing time, and so I'm freaking out. I did write a whole chapter on the plane yesterday, and that surprised me. (I was whispering to myself). I managed to lessen the anxiety a bit and get into my story, and the noises and the people around me hardly disturbed me, but the quality of the writing just wasn't the same.
I've seen writers type a sentence here and a sentence there when they were at a book fair with me and snatched some downtime from selling books. I always stared at them with huge eyes. How can then do it?? I can't. Or maybe I can and am afraid to try? There is only one way to find out. I'll just have to practice and see what happens.
If you have any wisdom for me, please share. You will never have another fit of itching feet. I know you're suffering from it. I've seen it. I spied on you through your bathroom window. (Lesson: cover up your bathroom windows, silly, you never know what freaks are out there, you know, freaks like me.) THANK YOU.