The way I structure my writing day will likely prove a dangerous thing to discuss, as I’ll undoubtedly alter it soon and therefore risk being called a liar. My father says, “Everything is temporary,” which I find to be painfully true. Still, my creative process could not exist without change.
At the moment, I work at a community college as a writing center consultant. I am married and have three pets. The time not devoted to my job, volunteer work, or domestic chores often goes to writing or reading.
I find each project I take on has a different process. For example, my short story “When Continents Collide,” which was first published in F(r)iction and later added to my Ghost City Press micro-chapbook, Space, Collisions, was an obsession. Once the idea hit me, I couldn’t stop writing it. I found no relief until it was completed. The project began and ended quickly, within a couple of days. I didn’t know where I was going with it all until I finished it. Compare that story to “Trace,” flash fiction published in Vestal Review and also added to Space, Collisions, which was born out of writing exercises, pieced together. “Buried in the Ground,” published in Barren Magazine, took a couple years to finish and sprouted from my negative feelings for a second-person novel. Currently, I’m working on a novella (or novel, maybe). Even though I revised the outline for the project three times, I still started in a different place than I expected.
In the same way, my writing day is elastic and includes no routines. I write when I can, as much as I can. Sometimes it’s at my desk, sometimes at the park, sometimes in a coffee shop, sometimes in my recliner. When I return home to Ohio, I’m often writing while I hide from my family, staring at the bright screen of my laptop in some dark corner.
Other than on my laptop, I’ll also write in notebooks. I have many, half-filled, and piled in different locations around my house. Writing in notebooks gives my mind a chance to puzzle over a project I’m currently working on. I scribble parts of drafts, outlines, and frustrated thoughts. Sometimes I’ll eavesdrop on conversations and write down the dialogue, or I’ll try to capture the way a particular moment makes me feel. It’s where I don’t take myself too seriously, where I can mess up and play.
Often when I’m writing, one of my cats curls up on my lap or perches on the file box. I’m frequently getting up to let me dog outside. If he’s not at work, my husband will occasionally come into my office to check on me. When I’m stuck, I try to move past my frustration by going for a walk. It all sounds very simple, sitting down to write. Every once in a while it is. The blank page does not act as my adversary and the sentences come together. On those days I rejoice. But most days I’m staring at the flashing cursor in Word, my palms pressed to my temples, wondering how on earth I wrote all the things I did before.
L. N. Holmes is the author of the micro-chapbook, Space, Collisions (Ghost City Press). Her fiction has appeared in or is forthcoming from Barren Magazine, Newfound, Vestal Review, Crack the Spine, Rhythm & Bones, and other magazines and journals. Her story, "Pheonix Fire Fight," won the Apparition Lit April Flash Fiction Contest. You can learn more about her at lnholmeswriter.wordpress.com.