How I Write

Hi gang,

Welcome to the very first “Wood’s Lore” Blog. In it I will try to stay connected with readers and friends on themes that are significant to me, and that I think you might be interested in as well. Let’s start with an “easy” one: How I Write.

I write with a pen on a yellow tablet. Longhand. I guess I write this way because I like simple stuff (my favorite mode of transportation is sitting in a long, pointy tub and pushing it across the water with a chunk of wood.) I write this way because I like old things and it sort of makes me feel connected to the guys who used stone tablets and chisels, but it’s less work. I probably write this way because it’s how my great, great, great grandparents and grandparents and great aunts and uncles wrote and I still have their letters; and because it’s how Miss Little taught me to write in second grade and I wrote a book about her and I’m loyal and I don’t like change. I think that’s why.

I write at a little “secretary” desk made by my great, great grandfather (see above reasons), in an office lined with books (see above reasons) that looks out into the woods and over the Mississippi River. In and on this desk are a couple of thesauruses and a good dictionary, a tiny lamp, a picture of Sigurd Olson’s writing office, an old fashioned cathedral- radio,and a small, stuffed Winnie-the-Pooh.

There are also a number of handwritten “signs” on note cards or scraps of paper that are thumb-tacked into place. They say: “There is no expedient to which a man will not resort to avoid the real labor of thinking.” (Thomas Edison). “Writing is easy. You just sit staring at the blank page until the little drops of blood form on your forehead.” (Red Smith). “Men work together, I told him from the heart; Whether they work together or apart.” (Robert Frost).

I don’t look at these signs very often but it’s nice to know they are there.

In my office I am surrounded by rocks, ranging from granite to amethyst to sandstone, slate, limestone, quartzite, greenstone, hematite, phyrite, agates, petrified wood, geodes, and many more. They vary in point of origin from Holy Island in Great Britain to the Caribbean, from Katherine Hepburn’s Connecticut swimming beach to the desert southwest to the Oregon coast. But most are from the canoe country of Minnesota and Canada.

Also inhabiting the office are a fair number of mounted fish (all the most recent ones being synthetic replicas.) They keep a cold, honest, and unblinking eye on all the goings-on at the writing desk.

Oh yes, I was going to tell you how I write. Well, I don’t really know. Every time I think I have it figured out it changes and doesn’t work that way any more and I have to try something different. These days, in fact, I’m not writing in the office at all, but am instead out in the old garage with the snow blower and the motorcycle and pictures of the Three Stooges. The windows are open so I can hear the rain and the wind and the birds singing.

And sometimes I write in the airport. Or in the car. Or on the motorcycle — but then I have to stop and put the kickstand down and reach into a saddlebag and find my notebook. If it’s there. Sometimes I jot down notes when I’m on a walk.

I like to write first thing in the morning when my brain is still empty and uncluttered with information and knowledge, which I find are unhelpful in good writing.

I guess if I know anything somewhat consistent about writing it would be the 3 Secrets that I share with kids at Young Author conferences (and adults at Old Author conferences.) The 3 Secrets of Being a Writer are :
Start. Finish. Do it over again.

And that’s how the books get writ.

Leave a Reply