A free trial for Audible. Free credits. A download later and, for the first time in six months, I feel like I am finally taking steps forward on this journey. I, of course, had heard of Stephen King’s On Writing. But it wasn’t until I started connecting with authors on Instagram that I remembered I’d heard of it. To be honest, I found it odd that I hadn’t read it.
There was a time in my life, I read as many Stephen King books as I could get my hands on. I was even a member of a Stephen King book club at one point. No joke. Then I looked at the year it was published and it made sense. In 2000, I had a toddler, working and was in school. It was during that time, my reading for fun began to fade away. Even if I had been reading, I’m not sure if I would have read that specific book, anyway. Though I’m fairly certain I was writing parts of a story that would later be titled Finding Evelyn, the thought of actually being a published author was something I thought unattainable. Something that always hummed in the background but never really pushed its way to the surface and demanded attention. Maybe I didn’t think I was good enough at the time. I probably wasn’t. I’m probably not now. Maybe it was just the circumstances of the time. Maybe it just wasn’t my time. I really don’t know why. But it’s not a background noise any longer. It’s front and center. It has my attention.
I don’t know that everything happens for a reason, but I do believe you know when you are on the right track. I’ve had those moments in my life when everyone around me thought I was crazy but I did it anyway. Because it felt right. Because whatever I was doing called to me. Call it what you will but I’ve learned to trust it, keep my head down, ignore the naysayers and just keep moving forward. Because all of those times I didn’t, that I let the doubts of others creep into my head, I’ve regretted it. All of the times I’ve trusted my instincts, no matter how hard the path was, no matter how much people thought I’d lost my mind, even in the times I didn’t know where it was ultimately headed, some amazing things happened in my life.
There’s no way to know for sure, until the end, if this will be the first time I regret following my instincts. I may never know. But as it stands right now, I’m just taking the fact that I read this book at exactly the right moment for me, with messages I needed to hear as a positive sign. King spoke directly to several fears that have been holding me back. His tips and tricks gave me a clear path to overcoming some personal hurdles I’ve been facing in my writing. After six months of seeing it shared over and over again, suddenly it wasn’t a “want to read” anymore. It was a “have to read”. I choose to believe there is something to that. This is just the first of many blog posts that will probably come out of that book. The next in the pipeline is “I’ll never be Shakespeare and that’s okay…”
But for now, it’s simply all about closing the door. It’s one of the things discussed by King. That you have to be willing to close the door to the outside world when you write. But it was more than just closing a physical door for me. It was an “aha” moment that I should have realized long ago. You see, I get distracted easily. I always have. Had I been born 20 years later, I probably would have been diagnosed with something. But as it stood, I just learned to adapt.
When I say I get distracted easily, I mean I distinctly remember a time in high school government class, when a bird caught my attention flying outside the window and my brain took off on some journey of its own making. The next thing I knew, the bell was ringing. I had daydreamed an hour thanks to that bird. That was not the last time that happened in a lecture. Or even a meeting. Later in life, I compensated by regularly doing a mental check to bring myself back to reality, so to speak. “Are you paying attention?” will pop in my head and bring me out of the clouds for a little while. I always end up back there though. Never fails. Recorders became my best friend in college and later as a news reporter. Just in case I zoned out, I could go back and revisit. I loved teachers and professors who said things like “You may want to pay attention to this,” or “You might want to write this down.” Even better were the ones who wrote all the notes on the board at the beginning of class, like the aforementioned government teacher. The best were the ones who relied heavily on the textbook. If I could read it, I was good. It’s one of the reasons I work so well under strict deadlines. It forces my brain to prioritize that task over all others. The hundreds of other tabs open in my brain get minimized for that amount of time.
Mental check. Back to the closed door. I was limited to rooms in my house where I could actually close the door. Our bedroom was one of them and really the most accessible. The other was the basement. I’m not fond of basements, really. Bad things happen in basements. So, I talked to my husband. It is his bedroom too, after all. Here I need to give a shout-out to my husband. He may not understand why I decide to switch around rooms, again. Move the furniture around, again. Or cabbage our bedroom for several hours, so I can shut the door and dare anyone to come in. But he never questions it. (Except for the time I called and asked where the drill was. He gets concerned when I start pulling out the power tools.) For the most part though, he just goes with the tidal wave.
Anyway, got the green light to take over the bedroom. Broke out the measuring tape. And then realized, my desk, which is currently sitting in a side room that opens into the rest of the house, is not going to fit. Not comfortably anyway. And for just a moment, I felt a little defeated. Then, ding. Maybe, just maybe, my desk is another one of my problems. Maybe my desk is the last thing I need in that room. My desk is where I do bills and freelance writing. Blog posts and website work. My day job. It’s where I play with what I learned about photoshop this week and answer emails. Update spreadsheets. It even has two monitors to make my work easier. It’s cluttered with papers – rough drafts and forms I need to fill out. Print offs of this. Print offs of that.
And every time I sat down to write all those things came flooding to the surface. Screaming they needed to be done first. This really isn’t anything new. They screamed at me when I was a news writer, too. But, as mentioned before, because I was usually under a tight deadline, I didn’t have an issue drowning the other stuff out. When I had my news site, if I didn’t get whatever I was writing finished, there was a good chance nothing would be on the site for the day. Maybe it was time sensitive. Maybe I had promised someone I would publish it that day. Not to mention, it was one to three hours of work. It was easy to put off those other things for a few hours.
I can’t really do that for a few months or even a year, though, while I write a novel that no one may read or if they do read it, may not like. So, almost without fail, when I sat down at the desk to write, I started out doing any of the number of things mentioned above before I even wrote my first creative word.
So, if not my desk? Then what?
Enter the brown table. This is what we call it. This table has history. I’m almost certain it resided in my teenage bedroom, though that could be up for debate. I do believe it was my first t.v. stand in my college apartment. I know it was the first t.v stand in our first home. It was the kids’ t.v. stand at one point. A microwave stand at another. It’s been a set piece in more plays than I can count off the top of my head. Today, I found it in the basement, where I used it last as my “news desk” for my failed attempt at a news program on YouTube.
And now, it’s my writing desk.
And it’s perfect. Big enough for my laptop. Too small for anything else. And the cork board I bought for visuals, that has been shuffled around my house for six months, hung beautifully just above it.
And when I sit down at it, the door behind me closes.
I’m not sure if this will work. It’s been trial and error to this point and, with every error, I’ve learned something new. But it feels right. It’s my writing nook. It’s my quiet space.
At least until my husband decides it’s time for bed. But hey, at this point, I’ll take that uninterrupted writing time anywhere I can.