The Writing Mind


Decades upon decades ago, my paternal grandfather decided one day that he was to set out and write some derivative of the Great American Novel. He packed up the family, drove east from San Francisco and set up shop in what was a essentially a cabin in the woods of the Sierra Nevada mountains. Once situated, he sat down at a typewriter to make novel magic happen. As I’m sadly nearing four decades on this planet faster than I’d care to admit, I’ve yet to see any fruit of this ancestral cabin endeavor, but now, I can understand the spirit.

For the last two months I’ve been writing the first draft of a new book. This will not be the next Great American Novel, nor will it be a novel of any type at all as it is a wine travel guide to Priorat. It sounds quite tawdry and irrelevant when you state it that way of course and as I’m only 1/3 of the way through the writing process with E, as any serious writer should, I have my doubts as to its quality. In the end, these doubts will not disappear, but there will be a finished book and I will have descended in to the “writing mind” once again.

When we wrote the Empordà book, the same descent happened and I wasn’t even aware of it until disconnecting for a week in Menorca to do the most unbearable thing imaginable: beach tourism, okay a little wine as well. Having been born an American, I accept the state of always on, but as an adopted European, I realize how unhealthy it is.

You see, my grandfather wasn’t wrong. His attempt to seclude himself to write was a reasonable device. I’ve found myself doing the same thing when I write longer projects. The only problem was that he didn’t need to go to some damned cabin in the woods to achieve this, he only needed to find the space in his own life free of he and his wife’s dysfunctional marriage. This is difficult as it makes you a truly horrid person to deal with whilst you’re in the midst of writing.

It’s quite easy to tell when you’ve reached this writing point. You’re detached and spacey. You can’t really remember what’s for lunch or the last time a shower graced your filth. You get out of touch with everyone around you and it doesn’t matter if you’re in Barcelona as I am now, on a boat floating on the Congo River, or eating bacon dipped chocolate in San Francisco. Once you reach this point, you write and when you’re finished, you leave.

I believe this is part of the reason why we see so few writings of decent length these days in that our social, connected world doesn’t allow true writing to happen. While it was sometime in the mid-20th century where my grandfather sought his cabin, I think that now is the time that it was really necessary as the disconnect, this weird writing spaciness is harder and harder to achieve.

Thankfully, writing enotourism books, the disconnect comes at the behest of tasting wines, but without that, it is admittedly difficult to get in to a writing state. Of course once there, I’m loathe to leave it, which leaves me to be a peachy individual to deal with. Thankfully, the bulk of the writing on this current project is over and I’m hoping I have a few weeks of normalcy before drowning myself in the next.