Mystery and fantasy writing

How I Write

I try to write something every day, even if it’s just a grocery list. When I was working as a media specialist, I found time during the school day to jot down some thoughts and ideas, but my very best writing times were during the interminable teachers’ meetings in the afternoons. Those of you who aren’t teachers can’t fully appreciate the incredible dullness of these meetings. You’ve put in a full day with the children, and in my case, shelved about a thousand books and picked up a thousand more. You’re tired and hungry and know you have about an hour before a lot of stores close. Information that could’ve easily been put in a memo, or in later years, in an email, was read to us. Often graphs and charts were put up on a screen and each item gone over in detail. During test season, the test rules were read to us. Sometimes there would be a speaker, and I did feel sorry for the luckless person trying to engage a group of worn out and jaded school personnel.
But I could get in at least a chapter, maybe two. I sat near the back, writing in my notebook, and occasionally looking up to show I was paying attention and taking notes, yes, sir! Meanwhile, my characters chatted away and had adventures while the meeting droned on. I was never in danger of missing anything important. In my thirty years in education, nothing in these meetings ever pertained to the media center. Ever.
Now I am retired! I recommend it highly to anyone who can manage it. I work in the mornings from eight until about noon, take a lunch break, and work from one until about three. If the work is going really well, I’ll write more after supper, but usually I’m done. I used to always write in long hand in spiral notebooks, but now I enjoy composing on the computer because it’s so easy to make corrections. I make very sketchy outlines, breaking up the chapters by Day One, Day Two, and so forth, but I rarely know what’s going to happen. I might have an idea of where I want the story to go, but my characters have minds of their own, and they always dictate the action.
I live in an apartment and rent the unit under me for an office. I hadn’t planned on renting a second apartment, but after suffering through some rowdy tenants who had all the manners of a pack of howler monkeys and could not shut a door without slamming it, I thought, if they ever leave, I’m renting that place. They finally hooted off to another part of the jungle, and peace reigned once more. There’s no phone, and I disconnected the doorbell, so when I’m at work, there are no distractions. My neighbors know not to knock on the door unless there’s an emergency.
I really love my office apartment, so thank you, howlers! You played a small and noisy part in the success of my writing career.


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