I write every day, but four times a year I indulge in a writing binge, at which I focus all my efforts on a single project, without the distractions of husband, dog, cats, telephone, or my extensive and alluring library.
The binge usually takes place at the home of two friends, also writers. Gordon and Angie open their living room to be a writing factory, with tables and hydro connections and a printer, and everything we need to immerse ourselves in our current projects. We allocate meals and cleanups so that everybody does something, but nobody has to do a lot in any given day. And for three days, theoretically, it’s eat sleep and write.
I say “theoretically” because life still does have a way of intruding. I’m going out to supper tonight with my husband, because we’ve been married five years today. (That’s the legal one, with a licence and all – in November we’ll celebrate again because we’ll have been married twenty-six years, from the time we did it without a licence and just made vows in front of witnesses. Two wedding anniversaries – all right!) Aside from that, though, I’m here from now until Sunday night, bulling through a first draft.
Normally I’d be writing fiction, but this binge is dedicated to finishing the first draft of my non-fiction beginners’ guide to choosing and keeping a reptile. I have several chapters done already, but I have seven or eight more to write, and I also have to complete the glossary and lay out the entries for an index and a bibliography of suggested reading.
I’m looking forward to this. First, it’s not plot. Plot is a lot of work. Second, I’ve spent much of the last five years conveying this information orally, so mainly I’m just organising and writing down information I already know. I may have time to sneak a little fiction onto the end of the weekend.
Third, it’s very cool to be writing something directly from my own experience, something that I know there’s a need for and that I can do well. It’s a change from the “working out” experience of setting, character, conflict, resolution that fiction entails, and a change is as good as a rest. If you think of a rest as a ten-hour day of writing.
Some of us do.