I’m traveling again, starting tomorrow, and will not return home until Friday. This is another promotions-related adventure, so no complaints from me. But after this, no more travel (I think) until late October. When I go to the dentist. I simply cannot wait.
So would I! Unfortunately, I don’t do much long-term plotting. Books happen. Sort of like accidents. I do, however, have a long list of things to touch on inside my head, which I try to take care of as I write. Allusions to this and that, mentions of certain characters. But series arcs change in the same way that books do—I may have the best long-term plan in place, but a character will do something to radically alter what I’m writing—and all of that goes out the window. So, for the Dirk & Steele series (as one example), there are certain big things that I know will happen (or at least, am planning for), but how I get there is still up in the air and may change.
Inspiration happens. That’s the short answer. The long answer is almost the same: Inspiration happens (when you need it, when you least expect it). I don’t know why, I don’t know how. Words happen. Characters happen. Magic happens.
As for time and place, it doesn’t really matter. I’ve written in airports and coffee shops and hotel lobbies; libraries and the backseats of cars; on my bed, beside my bed, at a desk, on a tree stump on a sunny day when the wind is blowing. I write in the mornings, in the afternoons, late at night when thunderstorms are brewing; I write well after naps, after a walk or a snack; in that twilight period when it starts to get dark but you can still see your hand in front of your face and you’re sitting on the porch with the fireflies dancing…
When the story flows, it flows, and it doesn’t matter where, when, or how. You just sit down and let it out. If you don’t, chances are it might not come again, at least not in the same form and body. Words are tricky things. They have a life of their own, sometimes.
I don’t recall who said this, but I remember very clearly a writer once saying that every time he completed a poem, he would tell himself, he would believe in his heart, You will never write again.
And I understand that. Every time I finish writing a book, there’s a part of me that feels the same, that says, I will never write again. Not because of exhaustion, or writer’s block, or anything like that. No, no, no. It’s because writing a book, every book, becomes it’s own unique experience. It may be a terrible book, or if you’re lucky, fantastic—but it is its own adventure, and it takes something from you, each and every time.
Then again, it also gives something back—which is also unique, and that will never come again.
Which, I suppose, is one way of saying that writing is a lot of hard work —but for those with the inclination, a wonderful, wonderful, adventure.