How Writers Live Alone, and It’s Marvelous

I recently gave myself a free pass to buy a heap of books.

You know, for research purposes.

One of the first I tore through was Sometimes the Magic Works, by Terry Brooks, which I bought from the Cannon Beach Book Company (of Cannon Beach, OR). It is a book about writing by a writer who I’ve heard some very good things about, and who I vaguely remember experimenting with in junior high (Sword of Shannara ring any bells, sci-fi/fantasy readers?).

The book  hits home with its opening chapter, titled, “I Am Not All Here.” Terry explains that as a creator of fictional worlds and dreamer of epic stories, he’s always musing on a new one, or an old one with new light to be shed. Which brings me to my own personal conclusion, that writers, at least some of the time, are completely alone (except for the characters with which their own imagination peoples the landscape), and it’s marvelous.

Writers…are completely alone…and it’s marvelous.

What happens with non-writers? Do they philosophize? What snatches their attention unexpectedly, delightedly, when they see strangers interacting? Does it all reflect back on them? What a burden! Not to be able to escape…

Eventually, after I’ve written a story, I realize what parts of the story say about my life or frame of mind, but that’s not in the present moment. And it’s important to me to live in that present moment. Otherwise, the future is a hoax, as someone great once said.

And that is why I spent my birthday alone this year, for the very first time. It was not perfect, but it was very enjoyable. Without the rushing around to gather friends, to feel loved, to craft an image of fun, I could do exactly what I liked. And I liked my own company.

Coincidence, that this is the first birthday since I’ve become a published author and owned the title? You decide…


Mac Mystery Solved

Have you ever wondered about the time it took for people to move around in Ye Ole Days?

Hindenburg Burning

Last month I attended a lecture put on by SASS, where one of the speakers spoke about the Hindenburg, the rigid airship that had revolutionized trans-Atlantic travel in the early 20th century (but ended ignominously by bursting into flames upon landing in New Jersey in 1937). She pointed out that the 4 days to cross in a Zeppelin was faster than the week or more on an ocean liner. A-ha!

This of course got me thinking of my own battles with verisimilitude (yes, I just worked that word into a blog post). What was normal for a carriage ride from London to Leeds? How often did the post get delivered to a country village? That sort of thing often hangs up a novelist’s resolve, in my experience. Same for you? Or do you find other reasons to procrastinate?

A related question that has hovered for a long time in my mind was the origin of the  word “tarmac.” This question was brought to the fore when I moved to Portland, where there is a main thoroughfare on the west side called Macadam Avenue. I found out that it was the first black-topped road out of downtown Portland. Neat! Might it be related to tarmac?

Tarmac Road Sky

You may know it as black-top (the playground from my elementary school was made of this), but in the eastern U.S., these roads are known as “macadam” roads, because their inventor was a Scot named John Loudon McAdam. A Scot!  And as the West must take all their precedents from the civilized East, that’s what the road in Portland was named.

From which, we get the word “tarmac”, for a type of macadamized road that has tar added into the process. Fascinating… who knew my vocabulary expansion would include mention of another genius Scot?


(If you also love Things Celtic, check out this free online newsletter)


Sources: Wikimedia and