Alternately, surrendering to reality.
There’s this fantasy I have. In it, I’m sitting in a room with an open window. There’s a cup of tea that just magically appeared. I’m at my desk. The antique desk chair that I inherited from my aunt is more comfortable than it really is … well, since this is fantasy land, let’s make it one of those egg chairs that suspends from the ceiling. I’ve got my computer in front of me, and page after page of perfectly crafted, engrossing prose is just pouring from my fingers. There’s good light, too. Afternoon light, and hardwood floors that glow when sunshine hits them.
Here’s what my writing life actually looks like: ooh, a few minutes where I don’t have anything to do. Let me grab a legal pad and go hide in an unused conference room. No conference room? Google docs.
The writing happens ad hoc, when I can, in twenty-minute increments, with weeks between putting one word after the last. It isn’t ideal.
For a second, though, let me praise Google Docs. My preferred writing program is Scrivener, but it belongs up there with my fantasy. It assumes I’m at home writing from my own computer. Too much of my writing happens in ten minute windows of time and I hate being bogged down with a computer when I’m on mass transit. Never mind that time my laptop got stolen (along with my divorce papers and all of my photographs from 2010). I’m still traumatized. MS Word has made great strides in recent iterations. The navigation pane pretty much solves the earlier nightmare that was dealing with a long document in Word. It’s now an acceptable alternative to Scrivener for the way I work.
Then there is Google Docs. Certainly not as powerful as MS Word, but I can have the whole document with me anywhere I go, and I can work in the cloud. And I can share with my editor and my story consultant from anywhere and get their comments embedded. It isn’t perfect. I want the navigation pane, I want it to function more like Word (or even better, Scrivener) but in the realm of making peace with what is currently available and making it work?
Listen, I love the writing advice books as much as the next writer. It all sounds so doable when someone else is saying it. Dedicated writing space, dedicated writing time, waking up at three in the morning to get the next words out, making it a priority… Well, it is a priority. So is feeding myself reasonably healthy meals, keeping a job, doing laundry, making sure the bathrooms aren’t disgusting, rubbing the dogs ears every once in a while, getting to the dentist, staying connected to friends, swimming (as soon as my tattoo heals)… Tell me which of those items on the list can be de-prioritized? I’m not finding anything. So my writing life doesn’t include a dedicated writing space with egg chair and teapot. It doesn’t involve waking up at 3 in the morning to write. It’s a mess, and I use Google Docs to make it work.
And if you’re Google Docs reading this, please make the word processing part of the tool better. Thanks.