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.

Thanks for the Encouragement

Tips for Protecting Your Home from Heavy Rain

To all of you who wrote in yesterday to tell me that you liked His Mercy Endureth Forever, a great big thank you!

I’m actually back to being eager to work on Bell Mountain No. 14, Behold! I can’t do it today because it’s cold and rainy. Somehow I can no longer write fiction indoors. Maybe it’s from being ceaselessly pelted by nuisance phone calls all day. Bear in mind I’m trying to write about a world that exists only in my mind and trying to make it exist in the reader’s mind, too. It’s not as easy as it sounds.

I’m still waiting to find out what it is that my characters are going to behold. I could always change the title, I suppose; but I like to go with the first thing that comes into my head, in case it came from God. And having a title up there from the get-go gives me something to shoot for.

So when the rain stops I’ll be back out there, trying to finish telling the story before it’s so cold that the ink won’t flow from my pen. Yes, that actually happens. Try it sometime. Besides, when it gets under 50 degrees, that’s a distraction.

Yow! Eight Pages!

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A beautiful day, cool and sunny, after it rained all day yesterday–and I just couldn’t wait to get outside and resume work on Bell Mountain No. 13, The Wind From Heaven.

That wind was blowing for me–eight pages, whoosh! I usually average around three, or four on a good day. So this day was special.

All right, I knew what this chapter was going to be about: just as often, I don’t. Man, when Lord Chutt finds out what happened in this chapter, he’ll hit the ceiling. The poor guy’s had a lot of unsettling surprises lately: sometimes it’s tough to be the villain.

May my work be fruitful in your service, Lord.

Beat the Cold

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Two weeks ago I was trying to beat the heat. Now it’s the cold.

I don’t normally try to work on my book on Sunday, but for once it wasn’t raining, and with more rain forecast for tomorrow, I thought I’d better at least try. Only problem–the cold. I mean, it’s kind of hard when the ink doesn’t want to come out of the pen; and shivering makes my handwriting still worse.

Brilliant idea–put on a sweater, with my winter coat on top of that, and gloves, and take my bike out for a ride up a very long hill. I thought that might warm me up, and I was right, it did. Which gave me almost two hours’ writing time when I got back.

I rely on the Lord to empower me to write my books, and this time, Lord, I’m gonna need a lot of help. I still don’t have the climax of His Mercy Endureth Forever, and there’s lots and lots of wild stuff going on in Obann. Some of the characters have done things I wasn’t expecting. I’m starting to feel like the writers of an Akira Kurosawa movie: they never knew where the director was going to make them go.

Lord Orth, if you only knew what kind of trouble you get me into–!