Wednesday, September 17, 2008

On Fire

"Don't you love it when you feel on fire with words?" a writing friend once asked.

"Don't know. Never felt that way."

"I mean when you are so inspired, the ideas just flow, your fingers just fly over the keys," she looked at me expectantly.

"Nope. Never happened to me."

It must be a personality thing. I run a few miles every week. I never feel in-the-zone. I write. I never feel on fire as I do it. I think. I write a few words. I delete a few words. I think some more.

I never feel on fire when I write. But I'm so focused that a building could burn down around me and I might not notice.

It almost happened once. I was making pancakes for my then young sons. As I poured the batter in the frying pan an idea for a revision that would strengthen the article I was working on crossed my mind. I ran to the keyboard and started revising.

Awhile later, one of my sons appeared at my elbow. "Mom, I know you don't like me to bother you when you write. But you might want to know this."

Scowling at my revisions, I kept typing. I wanted to get the words just right.

"Mom, I think you might want to know this."

"Yeah," his brother chimed in. "you might want to know this."

These boys had called me to the living room five times the day before to see them holding different denominations of monopoly money over their heads. "Come see us. We're under the money. We're under the money," they had shouted in glee. I had left my writing and gone to look five times. Surely, they owed me a few minutes to revise.

I kept typing.

"Mom. You probably want to know it,"they shouted. "The kitchen curtains are on fire."

Sure enough. The pancake was in flames so tall they'd reached out to successfully gobble the kitchen curtains.

With all that focus, it's probably good that I've never been on fire when I write. Fire plus focus might equal double disaster. But sometimes, I think I'd like to know what that on fire feeling feels like.

What about you? What kind of writer are you? Focused? On fire? If you're an on fire writer, will you tell me how you get that way?