Many thanks to Penny Warner, a speaker at San Francisco Writers Conference and the author of How to Party with a Killer Vampire, for allowing me to share her helpful, enjoyable post:
Cooped up in our RV last weekend, isolated in a giant redwood forest without Internet access, and unable to set foot outside for fear I might freeze to death, I was forced to watch some football games. Four of them. Practically in a row. Talk about a weekend in hell.
I actually felt sorry for my husband, who only had me to talk to about the games. I tried to look interested, even asked questions like “Why’s that guy crying?” and “Who would name their kid “He Hate Me” or “Ochocinco.” But I’m not very good at faking it. At least, not when it comes to sports.
During the games I entertained myself by focusing on the important details, like “Who picked the colors Red and Gold?” and “John Harbaugh? I thought it was Jim Harbaugh.” That’s the only thing that kept me from going crazy with boredom. Truthfully, I’d rather watch “Ice-Road-Trucking New Jersey Housewife Hoarders” than football.
My husband, on the other hand, seems to experience a wide range of emotions while watching the games. For example, that game the other day between those Red and Gold guys versus those Black and Gold guys? I was afraid I was going to have to sedate him but I couldn’t get him out of his “lucky chair.” First he was shouting. Then he was crying. Then he was biting his nails. Then he was screaming. Then he was outside jumping up and down with some RV neighbors he didn’t even know.
I felt so sorry for him that I offered to host an upcoming Super Bowl Party. I told him I’d make some cute little invitations written on mini footballs and stuff them into large puffy envelopes filled with crushed peanut shells. I would ask our guests to come dressed as cheerleaders, referees, or food vendors.
To create the right atmosphere, I’d set out sports equipment, like hockey masks, baseball mitts, and tennis racquets. Then I’d mark the party room floor with field yard lines using tape. As for a centerpiece, I’d set out Ace bandages, Ben-Gay, and crushed beer cans. And each guest would get one of those big foam “We’re Number One” fingers so they could have pretend swordfights during commercials.
When the game inevitably becomes slow and boring, I’d keep the party alive by having the guests place bets on everything from “Who will win the coin toss?” to “Which player will spit next?” Then we’d play a sports trivia game, with questions like “What’s the name of the team we’re rooting for?” and “Who’s the cutest guy in tight pants?” At halftime, we could go outside for a brisk game of balloon badminton or planking.
Finally, I’d serve typical ballpark food, such as Pigs in a Blanket, mini-quiches, Jell-O shots, and Vodka lattes. Then, depending on whether his team wins or loses, I’d send the guests home with either a Team Logo celebration banner or an embroidered crying towel.
“I think I’ll just get some beer, make some chili, and call a few friends,” he said when I finished telling him my party plans.
That’s fine. If he needs me, he knows where to find me. At the mall.
The Perfect Place to Write Your Book
I began my writing career typing on a Commodore 64 in a corner of my bedroom. After my son left for college, I moved into his room (boy was he surprised when he came back for winter break…), and enjoyed the quiet and seclusion there.
But a few years ago when I was under deadline—and had already planned a trip to Disneyland with the family—I found myself writing at a café table on Main Street. While my kids headed for their favorite rides, I ignored the crowds, the noise, and the commotion, and amazingly, was able to focus on my story.
From that I learned this: I can write anywhere. I don’t need a garret or a coffee shop, a quiet bedroom or a table at Disneyland, to write. In fact, no matter where I go, each location offers something no doubt finds its way into my book. Except Hawaii. By the time I’ve had my third pina colada, I can’t even remember the alphabet.
Here are some suggestions for places to write that you may not have thought of:
1. Hospital cafeteria. Think about all the drama that’s going on at a hospital and you’re right in the middle of it! And if you need medical advice, just grab a nearby nurse or doctor on lunch break and grill them!
2. Airport waiting room. Absorb some of that glamorous jet-setting crowd and write your book as you watch passengers come and go. You may even spot a movie star you can weave into your plot.
3. Hotel lobby. Find a comfy chair at a hotel like the Claremont or Mark Hopkins, pull out your laptop, and write your book in the lush surroundings of upscale accommodations. Need a latte while you work? Drop by the hotel coffee shop and pick up a pick-me-up to keep you going.
4. University library. I used to hang out at my university library to meet smart guys, but now it’s the perfect place to pen your novel—and have access to all those resources you might need along the way. Plus, you’re in good company, with the works of your favorite authors.
5. Secret Passageway. Find an old mansion, do a little wall-tapping, and find yourself a secret passageway. Then hide yourself away and don’t come out until that book is done (or the residents come home.) Talk about atmosphere!
6. DMV or Post office lines. Instead of wasting your time waiting for the next available clerk, write your next chapter on your portable, lightweight iPad. Tap into that seething emotion from other line-waiters and your story will be filled with passion.
7. Jail. If you can’t get yourself arrested, you can at least find a spot in the waiting room to write that dramatic action scene. Plus, you’ll find lots of character archetypes and may even overhear some good plot twists.
The eighth perfect place to write is wherever you can produce your best work.
So what’s your favorite place to write?
The goal of the blog is to help you and me understand writing and publishing. Rants, comments, questions, and answers most appreciated.
The 9th San Francisco Writers Conference/A Celebration of Craft, Commerce & Community/February 16-20, 2012/www.sfwriters.org / firstname.lastname@example.org / http://sfwriters.org/blog /@SFWC/ www.facebook.com/SanFranciscoWritersConference
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