I Have to Write Outdoors

Are squirrels using acorns to say thanks to Rossmoor woman?

Some of my readers are surprised to learn that I’ve written all my Bell Mountain novels outdoors, with pen and legal pad. Is it really that unusual? Why do I do this?

I guess it started because we had to give up smoking in the house, and smoking a cigar helps me to concentrate on my writing. But I still write all my non-fiction indoors, without smoking. It’s only the novels that now have to be written outdoors. I just can’t write fiction indoors anymore.

My novels are fantasy novels. That means I have to invent a world, invent characters to live in it, and somehow get the reader to imagine what I imagine: to get these people and places to seem real to the reader. But that can’t happen until first I make the fantasy seem real to me. Please note that I said “seem.” We try to stay sane around here.

Anyway, this is not an easy trick to pull off. It requires intense concentration. And I find that the outdoors itself helps me with that. It helps a lot. Squirrels, sky, grass, trees, birds (and I have even been blessed with visits from a deer, and a fox)–these are all God’s handiwork, they are all what’s real. Certainly a lot realer than one blasted robo-call after another, which is what I’d get if I stayed indoors. But there’s something about the sheer reality of the world I live in, God’s world, which somehow assists me in my work of fantasy. It’s very hard to explain how, but it’s worked for 13 books so far, going on 14.

I love it when a squirrel scurries up practically to my shoe and looks up at me, as if he’s trying to figure out what I’m doing. And once a monarch butterfly landed on my knee. Ah! I can’t go to Lintum Forest, but these tiny little aspects of it, as it were, can come to me.

I think most writers would tell you that inspiration’s where you find it; and I find mine outdoors.

Gotta get out before I can get in, so to speak.

6 comments on “I Have to Write Outdoors

  1. I can understand that. I do my best work when my shoes are off. Because I work from home, this is probably feasible 95% of the time, if not more, but somehow it makes a difference.

  2. I’ve been thinking about trying my hand at fiction. I have no idea if I can do it or not. The only things I’ve ever written about were non-fiction, which is easier in comparison.

    1. Well, it’s a totally different kind of writing. I was a newspaper reporter for years before switching over to fiction–and my wife said my short stories all read like news reports. Took a while to get me out of that.

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