Most people picture authors of years gone by as recluses huddled in an attic, no heat, no food, scribbling their lives away, driven to write. They shut out the world and lived in their imagination, creating characters they hoped would live forever on the pages of their manuscripts. They sharpened their quill pens, dipped them in India ink and crossed out all of the lines and phrases they didn’t like. Re-writing was a real challenge in those days.
I’m not sure how accurate the garret thing was or how many authors warmed their freezing hands over a fire of discarded manuscript pages, but they probably had fewer distractions. Authors today have a harder time isolating themselves. Today, we have email, Facebook, Twitter, smart phones, competing for our attention.
There is one thing writers of today and yesteryear have in common, and that is the need to find a quiet place where they can concentrate, where their imaginations can run wild, where they can retreat from the real world and inhabit a world they create, where they meet characters that live only in their imagination until they’re brought to life on the pages of a manuscript. The kind of quiet writers got in their garret is gone. The world intrudes constantly with the ring of the phone, or the ding that says we have another email message.
I don’t think any of them locked themselves in an attic. They may not have had Facebook but they all had distractions and they all got a lot done. Maybe, today, all we need is the will power to turn off the TV, put the phone on answering machine, ignore the ding that says we have mail, and write. Ignore the real world for a few hours. It will still be there when we return from the one we’re creating, from visiting the people whose story we are trying to tell. If Dickens could ignore a screaming child under his desk, we can ignore Sponge Bob turned as high as the volume will go. At least, we can try. If that doesn’t work, I’m told Denny’s is open all night, that it’s pretty quiet after midnight and they give free refills on coffee.Bio
After a rewarding career as a Realtor in