The Write Stuff by Nevada McPherson
Let’s welcome back monthly columnist Nevada McPherson as she shares with us “The Write Stuff!” Enjoy!
What fuels you to write? Passion? The rage to tell a story at all costs? Those things are certainly key and you can’t do it without them but in this case what fuel do you use to invite the muse? It’s been different for writers down through the years. Samuel Taylor Coleridge famously used opium and was interrupted by that infamous knock at the door that left his epic poem Kubla Khan forever unfinished. Edgar Allen Poe drank but also indulged in opium on occasion. Baudelaire and Verlaine were partial to absinthe’s “green fairy,” while Hemingway, Fitzgerald, William Faulkner, Dorothy Parker and countless other scribes preferred straight-up liquor. Kerouac and the other Beats imbibed in alcohol among other things but also drank copious amounts of coffee, helping to launch coffee shop culture as we know it today. This has evolved into places where writers toil at laptops amid the hustle and bustle of everyday life: the ebb and flow of the morning rush, mid-morning to mid-afternoon lull, late afternoon caffeine fix, late-night cuppa Joe.
Maybe for some it’s an evening glass of wine that stirs the imagination, a quiet time for reflection followed by inspiration. For others perhaps the Zen-like preparation of the perfect cup of tea is just the prelude to a productive writing session. I love my coffee in the morning (every morning) and at night (occasionally) but I’ve also come to appreciate an afternoon smoothie at my favorite coffee shop. It’s a green concoction that contains spinach and banana, brimming with vitamins that soothe frazzled nerves, and gets me through the final part of my day.
As widely varied as all these drinks and substances are, they all have one thing in common for better or worse; they stimulate the senses, at least for a time, and one thing all writers need is stimulation to put pen to paper or hands to keyboard in order to create. Perhaps because writing is a solitary activity that one usually does at a desk or table or someplace one can usually reach for some refreshment, it needs to truly refresh the senses, the mind, and the imagination. Whatever it is usually opens or widens a portal to that other reality where the story takes place, where characters are in conflict and the stakes are being raised. The construction of that reality takes a Herculean effort; it’s lonely, sometimes painful, sometimes joyful work, but it is work nonetheless, and practitioners of the craft turn to what helps them get the job done.
I think of one of my favorite photos of Tennessee Williams, in his pajamas, sitting at his typewriter, cup of coffee nearby. He appears lost in thought, staring straight ahead, oblivious to the camera. The room behind him is something of an elegant mess: bed unmade, clothes strewn. It looks like it’s the middle of the night. Is he thinking about Blanche DuBois’s next line? About Nano’s final poem in Night of the Iguana? Whatever it is, the coffee is fuel for the fire.
What fuels your creative fire? What do you need close at hand to get and keep you going during a writing session? What comforts/ soothes/ stimulates you so that you can put in the hours it takes to create a masterpiece, or at least a rough draft? Comment and let me know—and as always—happy writing!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Nevada McPherson lives with her husband Bill and rescue Chihuahua, Mitzi in Milledgeville, Georgia, where she is an associate professor of Humanities at Georgia Military College. Nevada received a BA in English/ Creative Writing and an MFA in Screenwriting from Louisiana State University-Baton Rouge. She has written over a dozen feature-length screenplays, plays, short stories and the graphic novels, Uptowners and Piano Lessons. Queensgate, sequel to Uptowners, is her third graphic novel. For more information, visit www.nevada-mcpherson.com.