Every author has their special writing space. For some, it is a quaint coffee shop just outside of downtown—a place where a dozen hopeful authors come every Saturday afternoon to bang out another three to four pages between sips of their overpriced yet decidedly mediocre chai tea latte. For others, it is a special room in their home where the only interruptions come in the form of Facebook updates and dogs that simply can’t wait a minute longer to go outside and fertilize the lawn. Some writing spaces are remarkable areas—a solid oak desk and an overstuffed chair surrounded by shelves and shelves of first editions. Others, less so.
Mine, of late, has been the latter.
Our apartment has a laundry facility on site, but there is no way in hell I will ever use it. It’s in the basement of one of the apartment buildings, and if there are any lights in the room, they don’t seem to be functioning. Only half of the machines work at any given time, and I believe they were probably manufactured sometime between the two world wars. I have had experience with laundromats before, but never as a sole means of doing laundry. Even when we didn’t have a washer and dryer, it was always easy to take a load over to my parents’ house whenever they would have us over for dinner. But, alas, a year ago we moved two hours away from our nearest family members; popping over to wash some clothes wasn’t really an option anymore.
A few months ago, I found a laundromat about ten minutes away from our apartment that had longer hours than others that were closer. It is also the only laundromat in the area where many of the machines accept credit/debit cards—rather convenient when you don’t want to carry around ten dollars worth of quarters just to have clean clothes for the week. Add in free Wi-Fi and it becomes a no-brainer.
I started taking my laptop with me when I was working on the first chapter of One Less Hero. Knowing that I would be sitting in one space for two hours with very little to do, I decided to try and use the time for something more productive than attempting to decode what was happening on the Spanish soap opera playing on the TV (though tele-novellas are fascinating, let me tell you). I breezed through the final draft of that chapter, and the same would be true when I started working on the second chapter a couple weeks later. Sitting in that place surrounded by people of all ages from all walks of life, it was easy to tell the story of the little guys who pulled together and took down The Man (from a certain point of view). After I finished that chapter, I decided to keep bringing my laptop and use the time to further my writing ambitions, Frederico and his secret agent mistress be damned.
Lately, I’ve been working on my Christmas story, That Old Silk Hat, while waiting for our clothes to finish. With what I have so far and what I have outlined, I think this will be a novella somewhere in the neighborhood of 20,000 to 25,000 words. It’s been a lot of fun to write so far. The best way I can describe it is a Christmas story in the tradition of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. It features a cast of children, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it should be a bedtime story. This one goes to some pretty dark places, and I’m very excited with how well it’s progressing. Given a few more loads of laundry, it’s possible this one might even be finished when I expect it to be.
As always, however, don’t hold me to that.
After I finish the Christmas story, I have another novella lined up that I started working on a couple years ago but dropped once I went back to school; with the full-time workload, it was difficult to make time to write. This one is a western (a genre I don’t often associate with) with a touch of horror (a bit more familiar with that one). There’s also a story about a 19th century magician whose tricks turn out to be touched with a little something more. What makes it even more fun is that the magician story is loosely tied to That Old Silk Hat. When you build a world, you build a mythology; part of the fun of being a writer is populating that mythology with the stuff of legend.
You know, I just realized I wrote this entire post without once making some kind of correlation between writing and airing one’s dirty laundry. Eh, maybe next time.