Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Zoning Out

Words were flying from my fingertips faster than racial slurs from Mel Gibson. I was in the zone. I was working on a scene from the Feedstore Chronicles. For once, the thoughts in my head were translating to the computer screen just as I'd imagined them.

I'm constantly writing scenes in my head but most of the time they do not hit the paper with the clarity or ease that I think upon them. Oh but this day was different. As I said I was in the zone, recreating a happening from my past. And it was all spilling forth in a magic like fashion. Adjective, nouns, witty phrases that I knew would hit their mark. I was in the zone.

The scene dealt with the first time I got fired from the feedstore. It happened on an unseasonable stormy, rain-filled afternoon in August of 1991. So complete in the zone was I that it might as well have happened the day before.

Have I mentioned I was in the zone?

I felt it. The cool air emitting from the storm clouds.
I heard the rumble of thunder.
I smelled the rain, felt the wet drops on my face.

So imagine my surprise when I wrapped up the chapter and went outside to discover it was 95 degrees and there wasn't a cloud in sight up in the blue sky. I'd gotten so involved in my own writing I actually felt both surprised and disappointed that it was a bright sun shiny day.

Days, feeling like that are when it is fun to be a writer. When the words, the story and the turn of phrases come easily. I long for days like that when I can actually believe Hemingway, King, McEwen, Sedaris, Evanovich (pick any other successful writer you want) ain't got nothing on me.

But guess what it's not those days that make you a writer. Being in the zone is nice, it's easy, and it's fun. But those days are rare and a writer must write everyday.

A writer keeps their ass in the chair, when the god lines arrive less frequently than a rational thought from Lindsay Lohan. A writer keeps fighting, battling to create every paragraph reads like shit. a writer keeps writing until they outlast, overcome, and persevere against a finicky muse. A writer says piss on the zone, I'm gonna make my word count anyway.

I wanted to post some of my so-called "zone writing" but I have decided the language in that piece is a might dicey for the blog , so instead here is a brief section from much earlier in the book.

In A Perfect World …
Some customers came in, purchased their items and left, but many lingered. Every bit as much hangout as place of business, Pearl's was the redneck equivalent of Starbucks.

However our coffee was the kind of dark, smelly fare that only men would drink, and I'm pretty sure they only drank it to prove the potency of their testosterone.

I'm talking about the kind of coffee that makes a person growl after every swallow. The kind of coffee that grows gills when left on overnight. Or sprouts legs over a long weekend. The kind of coffee that Darwin loves, and theologians fear.

Never mind putting hair on your chest, the feedstore java put hair on your tongue.

I wasn't tough enough to actually swallow the brew, but on occasion I would pour myself a mug and stand around trying to act manly.


Ello said...

Travis, This is an absolute fabulous post. And you are so right about the zone writing being few and far between. But when you are in it, it's awesome!

And I always love your writing!

AvDeeBee said...

The zone is a place I rarely visit, but when I do, I become a robot--there is no peeing, moving, eating... It's all about the writing. I do love the zone. So does Visine; they get a huge boost in profits whenever I visit.

And, the FIRST time you were fired--that line immediately made me want to know more.

Eric said...

I'm so jealous. I haven't hit the zone in way too long. If the example you give is anything like the zone writing however, you have some great stuff brewing there. Great post, Travis.

Steve said...

I'm not a writer, but I'm familiar with the zone. I suppose there is a zone for any activity people do...for me, it's playing the trumpet. It's awesome when you're there...you can play anything high or low or in between without missing a note! Good writing, Travis...everyone can relate to it!

jjdebenedictis said...

Great post and an even better excerpt! Travis, I so want to read your Feedstore Chronicles.

Hear that, universe? This book NEEDS to be published. Please make it so.

Debra She Who Seeks said...

The Coffee Feared by Theologians -- LOL! Your Mel Gibson line made me laugh too!

Charles Gramlich said...

If you don't spend those hard days hacking and slaving you NEVER get the zone.

Teenage Bride said...

Don't you just love when you can get into focus so clearly!

You are a very captivating writer. Can't wait to see your work in print!

Melissa Marsh said...

I LOVE being in the zone. Sadly, those moments are few and far in between anymore.

lyzzydee said...

Its great when you can make progress and actually feel that it has been a huge sucess!!!
I love your work!!

Old Kitty said...

Awww I can handle "pretty dicey"!! Go on post a little of your zone writing! :-)

But seriously! CONGRATULATIONS!! with nabbing your writing muse big time!! That's great news!

And this extract is just too funny - a "redneck equivalent of Starbucks" - oh wow!

Take care

Design Goddess said...

I almost got through your whole post, but I zoned out...sorry. ;oD

I'm sure it's a great feeling getting everything that's swirling around in your head on paper/screen. Good luck with the rest of your writing! :)

Crystal Phares said...

Travis, Thanks for stopping by my blog earlier and for owning up to being my personal bringer of shame. I'm glad you did it though, I've actually been writing tonight. I briefly visited the zone and loved it.
I know you said I wouldn't like your post today, but you are wrong. You are saying the same things that I keep thinking, but don't have the guts to actually follow through with.
So, thanks for the kick in the pants, whether you meant to or not. I need to run into you more often, then maybe my butt would be in the chair writing and not worrying so much about how much writing I'm not getting done.
I may need to pick your brain soon. I'm having some difficulty approaching situations from a guy's perspective.
Thanks again, Travis!

A. K. said...

Everytime I leave my laptop, I get so many amazing topics, points and lines but the moment i sit down to write something, things just disappear.. I end up writing something stupid which i delete after an hour!

Melanie Avila said...

I love that excerpt! I cannot wait to read more. :)

I've had that happen with my writing too. I was SHOCKED to discover I was in the middle of boiling Mexico and not the cool Midwestern evening I'd written about.

Pearl said...

Oh, Travis, I know the zone and I look for it every day. Do I find it? Sometimes.

Your writing is fresh and sounds like only one person: you. I suspect you find the zone pretty often.


Dawn Anon said...

I love the post. And thank you for sharing that not every day is a zone day.

for some reason, i can imagine my characters in my head with great clarity. But as soon as i try to sit and write, everything dries up. Apparently my zone is the "quiet zone".


pattinase (abbott) said...

Finding that zone is a rare, scary and wondrous thing. Doesn't happen much.

Aleta said...

I blog, I'm not a writer. But even blogging has moments of "zone," so I definitely get where you're coming from. I loved how you explained it - so wrapped up that the story embraced your reality.

Coffee that puts hair on the tongue. Yep, I'm going to tell that to Greg one day. Excellent!

huddlekay said...

Love the blog today!

As usual, you don't disappoint. And I wrote a blog post called Uninspired. It's kind of a spin off of your post, so I hope you don't mind.

I'll link back to you, too.

Two blog posts and 2500 words in one week... maybe my zone is up the bend and around the corner, eh?

DrillerAA09 said...

Now, that's my kind of coffee. Don't need no stinkin' Starbucks when you got cay old, re-heated Folgers...complete with the grounds. On a good day it'll put hair on your tongue and remove paint from your furniture. Good stuff, I tell ya.