everything and nothing
I’m back from my weekend in the woods where I intended to get some focused writing done. It turned out that my time there was nothing like I had imagined yet everything that I had hoped for.
I have no plumbing or electricity at the cabin. The former is not really a problem, but the latter was a challenge. And it was a challenge I thought I had conjured a solution for. My dear little laptop will operate on battery power for about three hours, which is sad enough, but that’s a different gripe. Three hours of work is hardly enough time to warm up to writing, much less to give over a whole weekend to. My solution was to use a storage battery I have had for years to be my portable power plant. You may be familiar with these things. They’re sold commonly for roadside emergencies; you can start a dead car with one, inflate a flat tire, and so forth. I had already determined that it would keep my laptop fully charged, so I trotted off to my off-the-grid cabin expecting a couple of long days at the keyboard, where the ideas would come and the words would flow.
That’s not how it worked, however. Because the gods hate me, or because I don’t really understand technology, I only got four hours of energy out of the storage battery. About mid-way through Saturday morning, the thing was drained. I wasn’t using it to power a lamp or run a carpet sweeper (though I could certainly use both at the cabin!). I had only my Mac plugged into it, and I’d always understood laptops to be frugal power sippers. By the time I realized my laptop was no longer charging, I had already used one third of its own internal battery supply. So there I sat, with a day and a half of solitude before me and essentially no computer to write on.
Then I did something radical. I decided to keep writing, using a pencil and a paper notebook. I know. Old school!
I was frustrated, and I assumed that I would simply use the paper and pencil approach to jot down the story ideas that had been coming to me. I had begun thinking of just going home since the writing weekend was a bust. But I found that as I scribbled down my notes, the ideas kept coming. Scenes developed. Dialogue emerged. Relationships in plots across my Fathers and Sons stories did their own call and response before me.
I found I was filling pages and pages of my journal with story material. I couldn’t write fast enough. Perhaps I was using a different part of my brain by channeling the words through a pencil rather than a keyboard. Whatever the reason, my time was quite productive. I was pleased with what was happening, and even during those times when I tore myself out of the cabin to do some chores, I was talking to myself about further story ideas, eager to get back to my pencil and paper to jot them down.
Would I do it that way again? Certainly, but I still want to find a way to power my laptop through the weekend. I’m sure it can be done, and if I propitiate the gods or get myself more technologically savvy, that’s what I intend to do.