Tuesday, June 7, 2016

On Writing in Chaos and other Necessary Habits

Author Adriana Koulias

Every author will tell you that he or she has developed habits proven to help in the conjuring forth of magical words and brilliant sentences, habits that dictate where and how they write and writers can be as superstitious as sailors when it comes to them. For instance, Stephen King hibernates in his den, which is off limits even to his wife, until a book is finished.  Earnest Hemingway wrote in the early hours of the morning when everyone was asleep; Vladimir Nabokov wrote standing up; Truman Capote lying down; Richard Powers in bed; Junot Diaz in the bathroom perched on the edge of the tub with his notebook; Victor Hugo wrote naked and William Wordsworth composed out loud to his dog - if it barked he knew a revision of his work was necessary!

I write in the midst of the chaos of family life, in other words, before and after P and C meetings, around car pooling, piano lessons, HSC exams, parent teacher interviews and concerts, house renovations, house selling and house buying, helping with homework, training in a new puppy and even while cooking dinner! And for me every book starts with the end, which often forms the beginning. This end meets itself again at the end - somehow - but I never know how! This means that what arises in the middle has to connect the two - and it always miraculously does, but not without moments of uncertainty!

Temple of the Grail
So, I often go back to my old characters for advice when I’m feeling particularly stressed. I like to hear their voices in my head. When I do, there is an added bonus - I remember when my son was composing a piece of music or what chapter I was formulating when my daughter was rehearsing for a play, I recall how, during a particular spot in the Sixth Key, my daughter called about her orthodontist appointment, and I vividly relive the struggles I was having with a plot point when my son wanted a recipe for Teriaki tuna. In this remembering there is a form of comfort, because I know that I have been here before and I will finish the book!

I look back at twenty one years of writing and I see that not a lot has changed! I'm still writing around the chaos of life and I admit that I couldn’t write any other way, so I suppose not having a habit is my habit!

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