I write flash fiction, non-fiction, essays and novels. This month’s Tease is from a work in progress.
He jerked the reading glasses off the tip of his red nose and looked down at his dogs, Franklin and Jefferson and Molly. The older Franklin lay by the unlit fireplace, snoozing, as if it were January not August. Jefferson, his big shepherd, perked his ears and sat up at the first sign that their might be some action. Lifting his glasses was sign enough. Molly, his retriever, just looked at him with approving, hopeful wags of her tail, sweeping her hair and a bit of dust to each side with every swipe.
“Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I believe it is time.” He stood and walked to his desk, Jefferson on his heels. He pulled a pen from its stand and a long, yellow pad from a drawer and placed his glasses back at the tip of his nose. He opened the window to reveal its screen and flipped on a small, black fan near the sill. Patting Jefferson between his ears, he looked to the pine ceiling and then down to the desk, writing swiftly once he began.
Writing and not writing, taking a break from typing, not from observing.
Our day nine assignment for Writing 101 is to create a post about what we do when we are not writing. I consider these “breaks” to be a separation from the keyboard, but not a complete divorce from the process of writing. All the inputs for written pieces are gathered as we live our lives.
Hemingway was very adamant about not writing when you were done for the day. Put it away. Recharge for the next go around. I agree with that sentiment. Hemingway likened this act to allowing a well to fill back up with water after being emptied. The image that works for me is a snow cornice hanging on an alpine cliff in a blizzard. It builds until the next time I’m typing, ice piling up, moaning, creaking, cracking, but holding on, until I re-open that document file, then crash! It all comes flowing out.
Putting writing aside serves two purposes. One is the aforementioned recharging of the creative batteries. But the other, observation, is just as important. Stepping away from the piece you are working on allows you to observe the world around you. When I’m involved in anthropocentric activities, I never miss the opportunity to people watch. I gather mannerisms, pick up dialogue, remember names.
Yes, I can be a real nosy bastard.
But even more enjoyable for me is getting away from people. My free time is often spent on the trail with my four-pawed friend and companion, Avalon. She loves water and so our adventures usually involve a lake or river. Time in the backcountry also presents unique opportunities for observation and gleaning new settings.
No matter how you spend it, time away from writing can be as important as the writing itself.