Sometimes when and where you write is just as important as what you write. The Writer’s Bone
crew got together and discussed the best places to seduce their creative muses. To add to the fun, our contributors also revealed which fictional character they'd like to be and why.
Daniel Ford: There comes a point every night where I think I’m ready to sleep. The lights are out. There’s a shitty movie or television show in the background. My eyes are heavy with sleep. And then bam! My muse is on her second coffee and she won’t be denied. A couple of things could happen next. I could walk over to where my laptop is on my kitchen table, open it and type out some thoughts with one eye open and my headphones blaring music into my ears. I could also unbury my cell phone from the depths of my covers and type a few notes before actually falling asleep. I could pull out my reporter’s notebook and turn on my reading light and write notes out longhand. Whatever the case, I’m waking up from whatever pseudo-slumber I was in to get those words out of my head. And then waking up early the next morning without an alarm clock to craft them into something someone might actually read.
I’ve always said that I would be Atticus Finch from To Kill A Mockingbird, but I’ve been thinking about Richard Russo’s Nobody’s Fool recently and I think I’d like to be Sully for a day. Just an unlucky, crotchety old man who is trying to hold his life together in a deadbeat town in upstate New York. I often imagine Sully as who my main character Sid Sanford would be as an old man. As much as I love Atticus, I love characters that are gray, so Sully is my pick at the moment. But ask me again tomorrow and you could get a different answer.
Sean Tuohy: I have to say, I do not have a favorite place to write. If I can sit down and write I will. I don't like writing in public. I have never understood how people can study or write while at Starbucks. I need to be a room with a view and that's all I really need. A lot of times I am writing in my head. I think about scenes, dialogue, and characters while just walking around. My head is always going. I always get ideas when I wake up in the morning or just before going to bed. Just last night I left an open notebook by my head to jot down some ideas before I went to bed. It worked out well. Something about the time just before sleep and just after waking up is the best time. The juices in your mind are set just right and allow you to write.
I want to say James Bond. I would be Fleming's version of Bond: cold, brooding, drinking, and smoking a ton. That Bond tended to muse about life and he was a guy who really disliked his job in a way. He was always hoping M would fire him or wanted to leave, but at the same time the thrill of the work kept him there. Also, he was a spy during the Cold War. Just think about the global chess game that was being played by the Americans and Russians. That was awesome.
Stephanie Schaefer: I’m a creature of comfort so it’s no surprise I like to write in cozy locations. Unlike most of the other writers here, I can’t listen to music while try to find my voice—It’s just me and my thoughts. I’ll take breaks every so often to listen to a song to jolt my energy, but as Daniel knows I usually make him put on headphones when we’re writing in the same room (Sorry!). I’m also big on sunlight, so in an ideal world I’d have a corner office with huge windows (A girl can dream), but in reality any window-side nook will do. Add a warm cup of tea (or the occasional glass of wine) to the mix and that’s my writing oasis.
My initial pick would be Carrie Bradshaw, if only for her closet and book deals. But on second thought, her love life is a little too dramatic and seems tiring. On a less superficial note, I’d probably choose “Skeeter” from The Help, a young journalist who attempts to expose the truth through her writing.
Rachel Tyner: My favorite place to write is anywhere I am alone. I cannot write in front of anyone, I'm convinced they are reading over my shoulder and judging. I get the most/best work done when I have had a lot of caffeine and am feeling really passionate about something. That being said I really feel like I need to put the disclaimer here and say that I don't write very often. Words don't pour out of me, it is not my passion. I journal fairly regularly, and there have been times growing up and even recently that I've wished I could publish a novel, but I certainly don't have the enthusiasm for it to make it my career. There have been a few of your guests on the Writer's Bone recently who have given similar advice along the lines of "write if you must" and "if you can physically do something else do it." For you, this probably reassures you that you are pursuing the right career for yourself. That is so wonderful! For me, it is reassuring because I realize that while it would be cool to see my name on the cover of a published book...I just don't care enough to get it there.
I would be Hermione Granger. My parents, grandmother, and JK Rowling raised me. Hermione is strong, brave, a good friend, and a genius. Plus, she came from a non-magical family but was lucky enough to be magical herself, which is kind of the dream amiright? I’m still waiting on my letter from Hogwarts.
Matt DiVenere: My favorite place to write is anywhere with a laptop and my headphones. But the room has to be dark with just one light on, like a desk lamp or something. It reminds me of my late nights at the newspaper designing pages and wrapping up stories before deadlines. And, of course, the best time for me as a writer is any time after 9 p.m. If you try to get me to write a sentence before noon, you're only setting yourself up for failure.
I'm not sure what main character I would be. I’d probably be any one of the baseball players from any of Matt Christopher’s books. They always overcome the odds and find success. And they were fun books growing up as a kid.
Emili Vesilind (Editor-in-chief for Washington Flyer): My favorite place to write is at a nice, tall table at any coffee shop — with headphones blasting loud, electro-y music...all day. I get the most done after coffee no. 2 (ingested around 2pm). I am cooking from 2:30-5:30!
If you could be any of your favorite main characters (from your favorite novels or something you've written), who would it be and why?
I'm afraid I'm most like Lily Bart in The House of Mirth—a luxury-loving creature on a meager budget! But I aspire to be Tina Fey every day.
Lindsey Wojcik (future Writer’s Bone contributor): I always keep a notebook in my purse, which gives me the freedom to discover a new favorite place to write any time I'm feeling inspired. I suppose a short answer would be New York City at sunset. When I've had a particularly hard day at the office and need a place to escape, I let the sun be my guide to where I'll eventually sit down to write. The parks along the Hudson River give the best sunset views, so in the spring and summer on a nice afternoon I often find myself at the High Line or Hudson River Park with my shades on, music blasting in my headphones, and a crisp, blank notebook page staring back at me ready to be filled with words. Being in a public setting with no distractions forces me to sit and write until my heart is content. New York's urban landscape never fails to inspire, and I find writing with the beat of the city generates the most creativity. I often pause to watch the beauty of the sun disappear behind the horizon, which is usually my cue to head home. I always revisit my raw handwritten workdays or even weeks after I've scribed my thoughts in my notebook to formulate and revise it into a hard and final copy. The sense memory of writing in whatever setting I found myself drives the final piece and makes it so much easier to sit at my computer to write.
I'd love to see America through Sal Paradise's eyes. Sal—Jack Kerouac's alter ego in On the Road—is a free spirit (more so than I am) looking for the meaning of life in the late 1940s and early 1950. On his quest, he takes several cross-country trips with his carefree friend Dean Moriarty and becomes enlightened by the people he meets that—like himself—do not fit in with society's standards. How amazing would it be to discover the hidden talents and cultures of America in that era? Oh, and Sal is a writer. He's the embodiment of everything I am not and part of who I am. I'd like to take a ride as Sal.
9-year-old author Elizabeth Nicklis: I like to write in my room sometimes at my desk, sometimes on my bed. Before lunch is my best time, after schoolwork, but before lunch.
And hmm…I'd probably like to be…hmm…that's a hard decision. I'd like to be Erik in Wild Life by Cyntia DeFelice because he has a hunting dog that he found and he gets to hunt with his uncle's gun and live off the prairie for five days. That would be awesome. I'd love to be him.
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