Somewhere Between Then and Now

So, now that I sort of have this “writing” thing off the ground and more people get to know about it, one question that they like to ask me is, “Where do you go to write?”

At first, it seems like such a simple, straight-forward inquiry. And I know that they are expecting a simple, straight-forward answer. They figure it is something like:

“I go to the library.” (There’s a great one less than a 10-minute drive away.) Or maybe, “I go to a coffee shop.” (See the post on writing about writings and you’ll understand why this could happen.) Or,”I have a writing area at home.”

My answer is always the last one. I do have a room that I loosely refer to as an office, although it looks more like the aftermath of a paper mill run amok. The reality is that I am most productive in my own surroundings however messy they may be. It is the simple response that satisfies their moment of curiosity.

However, the best answer to me is, “I go somewhere between then and now.”

You see, I write historical fiction and I’ve developed a bit of an obsession with early twentieth-century history. I can drill down a little further and say that I’m obsessed with British history between the start of World War I in 1914 and the end of World War II in 1945. I have been ever since I was in grade school. While other kids were tuning into lighter fare, I watched Masterpiece Theatre on PBS. There I found a series called To Serve Them All My Days. It opens in England in 1917 as the main character is returning from fighting in World War I and traces his life through the beginning of World War II. I devoured every minute of it and a love affair was born. I found the book that was the basis for the series, a lengthy tome by  R.F. Delderfield, and devoured that also.

My interest in this area of history has not waned in the years since then. I love it as much as I ever did. And after a few failed attempts at writing contemporary fiction, I told myself to try writing about the very subject that has captivated me for most of my life. My writing life has taken off since that day. I am motivated and inspired to stick with it. I am writing more now and more consistently than I ever have.

And when I do, my mind and my spirit are not sitting in a messy office somewhere in American suburbia. Instead, I am walking the streets of London, dodging rubble left by last night’s air raid and wondering if there will be another one tonight. I am counting the coupons in my ration book to see if I have enough to last the month. I am repeating the phrase, “Make do and mend.” I may even utter a “bloody hell” every so often. Physically, I am in the “now,” but mentally I am in the “then.”

So, that is where I go to write.

Doing as the posters say…keeping calm and carrying on.




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