Sunday, July 1, 2018

A WRITER IS ALWAYS "ON"


“A writer never has a vacation. For a writer, life consists of either writing or thinking about writing.”
I have this quote, from Eugène Ionesco, prominently displayed on my website. It’s also taped to my work desk at home, where it shares space with several hundred other notes and jottings I consider absolutely crucial, such as lists of groceries I was supposed to buy but didn’t.
Which explains why dinner tonight will be leftover pizza.
Ionesco was an avant-garde Romanian playwright and must have been a bit of a strange bird. In Romania, the official language is, not surprisingly, Romanian. According to Wikipedia, the country’s other spoken languages include Hungarian, Bulgarian, Serbo-Croatian, Russian, Slovak, Romani, Ukrainian, and German.
Ionesco wrote in French, perhaps because the French came up with the phrase “avant-garde”.
In any event, I think he is spot on with the quote in whatever language he wrote it. I cannot remember a day when I didn’t think that something I did, heard, saw, read or imagined wasn’t grist for my writing mill. A writer is always “on.”
One of my thrillers was influenced by a trip I took to Ireland in 2014. I played a round of golf on a course called Old Head, where if you strayed off the fairway, you fell to your death on the rocks 400 feet below. Needless to say, I didn’t look for my many golf balls in the rough. But I did get a great murder scene out of the experience.
Another book, a mystery, was set on Bald Head Island, a tiny island just off the coast of North Carolina I visited. (Contrary to snarky comments from my sons, the island was not named after me; they ignore the obvious genetic possibility that their own domes are doomed to a receding-hairline future.) The island is only accessible by ferry, does not have cars, has a history of shipwrecks dating to the Spanish Main, is a refuge for people who want to be left alone, has only a rudimentary police presence, and suffers a murder every 500 years.
I was only there two days, and a plot using all those facts percolated in my head (aided, no doubt, by the local rum punches). The resulting book includes murders and dismemberments, of course.  

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