Sitting in the author chair after a long absence

Between 11:30pm on Wednesday night and this evening, the draft of Meet the Larssons grew by precisely zero words. I had day job obligations, and my mother came out for a long-awaited visit over the weekend, and then I had more work to do and packing for a business trip. This evening, though, I’m stuck in a hotel room in the middle of nowhere. I had dinner with a colleague, then I puttered around in the room for a while, but finally I couldn’t avoid it any more and sat down in front of my office (Windows, bleah) laptop, opened up the file containing Chapter 10 which I exported from Scrivener before I left, and started typing.

I typed a paragraph.

God, hotel rooms make me nuts. They’re so confining. There’s nowhere to pace. I can never sleep in hotel rooms. Apparently, I can’t concentrate worth a damn, either.

I needed music. My iPod is running low on juice, and I have no good music on my office computer, so I clicked on one of Yahoo! Music’s free Internet radio stations.

I checked my email. I got up to use the bathroom. I typed another paragraph. I went down to the lobby, got change, and bought a Diet Pepsi from the vending machine. I hate Diet Pepsi. I went back to my room.

I decided that I hated the music on the Internet radio station. I opened up iTunes. No good music.

I went to the iTunes store and bought an album I once listened to on permanent replay 18 hours a day for 10 days straight in my room while studying for Winter Quarter law school exams my second year, scaring the hell out of my roommates, so much so that they had a talk with Mrs. Unfocused (then known as the Unfocused Fiancee), which has to be a violation of the Code of Guys. She didn’t say anything until exams were over, for which I was profoundly grateful, but it was clear that I would be watched for signs of imminent psychotic breakdown until I got rid of the CD. Since I had actually borrowed it from a friend, I simply returned it after exams, and haven’t listened to it since.

Without a moment’s hesitation, I started playing the album. I felt less restless. I typed another three pages. Much better. I may have appeared a little deranged that exam period, but I was very, very productive.

All told, this evening I packed in another 1,037 words. For a few minutes there, though, I was a little concerned that coming back to the book after a few days off was going to be a problem. Apparently, a little familiar music — linked to a period when I sat in a small room for hours on end without leaving my chair — was all I needed.

If you’re in room 411 or room 415 and you can hear my music, though, I apologize. I’ll try to write without it tomorrow.

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4 responses to “Sitting in the author chair after a long absence

  1. Ah, hotel rooms. I actually can write decently in hotel rooms. Probably something to do with the fact that I write in bed a lot.

    When I write, I like most being in transit from place to place. Planes, ferries, (not buses, ugh, motion sick), hotel rooms, lobbies. I’m suspended from normal life and… well… it’s either write or be very, very bored. ;)

  2. That’s interesting. My problem was that I was wired from a day of travel, the hotel room was small and set up to deaden sound, and it just made me twitchy (which happens to me in hotel rooms often). I did just fine on the plane, though, in large part because it was more than half empty so I didn’t have anyone sitting next to me, which let me relax a bit.

  3. Oh my god. What’s the cd already?

  4. Well, since you asked, I’ll tell you, even though it’s horribly embarrassing. You need to keep in mind that I originally played this album during a very painful exam period, when I wasn’t getting a lot of sleep. I really wasn’t exercising my best judgment.

    Okay, here goes.

    It was Meat Loaf’s Bat Out of Hell II.

    There. Are you happy now?

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