On Writing,  publishing

Chapter One: Writing a Novel in Five Days While Traveling



Second day of traveling and I will be starting the novel in two days. So doing introduction and preparation chapters first for the nonfiction book as I go along. A sort of writing travel book. Sort of.

Besides the cover and the series the novel will be in, do I have anything plotted out for the novel? Nope.

Not a thing and I’m not going to, actually. I didn’t even think about it once today.

But I have done a few basic preparations besides making sure I had a computer with me that I could write on.

But before I get to those helpful hints, let me tell you about my second day of travel. After all, that’s part of this book, how travel influences the writing of two books.

Yes, that’s right, I am writing two books. These chapters will become the nonfiction book and then I will also write a novel in five days if all things work out.

And yes, we will also bundle both the nonfiction book and the novel together at some point. I suppose that will make it a third book. (grin)

The Second Day

Today started off with a panic, actually. I got up early, ahead of my alarm and glanced out the window to see if it was still raining. I had spent the night on the third floor in a nice suite hotel to the south of Eureka, CA. I intended to go back to bed for another hour or so.

To my surprise and then shock, right outside the hotel was a massive river. (Didn’t see it the night before because of the darkness and heavy rain.)

To say this river was angry would be an understatement. Colored in dark brown and moving so fast that floating debris seem to just flash past the hotel.

And the only thing between the river and the hotel and my car in the parking lot was a tall, artificial levee with a sidewalk on top of it.

And the water was flowing within a foot of that sidewalk and people were standing up there staring, including a few official-looking folks.

So much for going back to bed. Last thing I wanted was to see my Cadillac floating down the river. Less than an hour later I was packed and pulling away from the hotel. Official people were still standing on the banks. No idea what happened but it didn’t look positive.

9:30 in the morning and I had a seven hour scheduled drive ahead of me.

Well, that didn’t work out so well. After the monsoons that hit (and are still hitting) California, it took me eleven hours of driving before I was in this hotel room in a suite hotel in Fresno, CA.

At one point during the day, Kris was on the phone with me from our home in Lincoln City, Oregon, trying to help me find a way around some flooded and closed roads in north-central California. She was on her computer and I was trying to figure out where I was.

At that point I had already been dealing with flooded-out roads and closed roads for five hours.

You see, I had to somehow get from Highway 101 to Interstate 5 and I didn’t want to go through San Francisco. With Kris’s help through the road closures and stopping for directions once, I made it to I-5 and then went south, finally cutting across from I-5 to Fresno on what I thought would be a fairly short distance.


And even though the map says straight, not straight… Road just vanishes in places. Two very friendly guys in one service station  in a tiny town in the middle of nowhere got me back on track and two friendly policemen in Fresno helped me find the hotel.

And then I was so tired, I went into the lobby of the wrong hotel and the poor clerk couldn’t find my reservation until I finally noticed I was in the wrong hotel. My hotel entrance was across the parking lot. Fifty feet away.

I had parked in front of the correct hotel, walked into the wrong hotel.

The nice clerk said that happened a lot. Duh, putting hotels with similar names within fifty feet of each other in the same parking lot with California-level sucky signs… I suppose it would happen.

After getting all set up here in the room, I didn’t want to go out for dinner because I was exhausted and didn’t want to get lost again, so a television dinner (advantages of a suite hotel) and the last part of the National Championship College football game and I went to work on the workshop assignments.

Then a fifteen minute nap, then back at the assignments after a walk around the hotel to wake up.

It was a day. A second day.

Some Suggestions on Getting Ready.

When I was planning this trip, I knew that the first three days were going to be too much driving time to do much. And I had workshop assignments to do.

I did not expect a seven hour drive to be ten the first day and a seven hour drive to be eleven the second, but I had planned no fiction writing, so it worked out.

So Suggestion #1… Look clearly at the trip ahead to see where fiction writing hours are available and realistic.

Realistic is the key.

Suggestion #2… Figure out what else do you have planned.

For me, this trip I knew I would be doing workshop assignments and I knew how long that took. And I knew that I would be doing work on the Anthology coast workshop, and I knew how long that took. So I planned out both.

Realistic is the key here as well. If a trip to see a tourist place is on the schedule, give that extra time. And give driving extra time.

Suggestion #3… Do a daily plan for the entire trip to see if fiction writing is even possible. If not, take the trip and leave the novel for when you get home.

For me, on this trip, the first three days are just marked travel. I knew I wanted to do these first nonfiction chapters, but I didn’t mark them down for fear I wouldn’t get to them. Almost didn’t.

As the days go by, I will detail out my day each day and how it fit in my original plan, or if it did at all. I expect to have to adjust as I go along.

So that is Suggestion #4… Be prepared to be flexible. Never know when roads are going to be washed out on you in a state suffering from a drought.