Monday, August 4, 2008

Hitting the Road

The nice part of being a virtual writer-in-residence is that I don't have to stay in one place. (I also am pleased not to be a lab rat whom passersby stare at through one-way mirrors. "Ooh, look! He's picking his nose! So that's where he gets his ideas from.") Tomorrow I will be taking my writing on the ferry and to the Vancouver airport before flying to the family cottage in Ontario. I expect to be very productive. A bold statement, indeed.

Writing on the ferry has always been a good thing. It's a 40-minute ride and I park myself at a study carrel, power on the laptop and get a chunk of writing or revising done. In paring down my novel Fouling Out, much of the revisions came on the ferry during daily work commutes. All that occurred down in the caged in pet area on the vehicle deck with one shivering dog on my lap and the other leaning on my leg. By comparison, the study carrel on the passenger deck is a luxury.

I am a people watcher at airports. Where is that group going? Is she off to meet her husband? Why is he wearing shorts and flip flops? I don't get a lot of writing done at the airport; instead, I soak in the atmosphere and a few quotes or a minor character may come to mind. These are details that I consider golden. On the plane, I get more disciplined and write another scene, taking an occasional break to peruse some of the reading material I've packed in my weighted backpack. (Why do I set aside a thousand pages for in-flight reading? Can I not make a choice that morning at home? Do I suddenly think I will become Speed Reader?)

It's the time at the cottage that will be uncertain. Days can drift by. Often when I return and people ask what I did, the honest answer is "nothing." I think that's what cottages are for. I am not a tinkerer like my grandfather and I certainly am not a fisherman like my brother. As I stare at waves and idly allow sand to sift through my hands for hours on end, maybe I will fit in a time to write. You're not watching through that funky mirror, but I will still try to imagine eyes watching.

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