Advice for Writers: Shopping and Writing

Now, I am not writing here about my shopping practices, which, like many men, are practically non-existent. I know what I want and if I can’t get it online, I go to the store, get what I want, pay for it, and go home. I don’t like big shopping expeditions, nor do I engage in “recreational shopping.” I leave that to my wife Becky, who is very good at it and who has in fact paid pennies on the dollar for too many items to count. So, I am in fact writing about a fortuitous confluence of writing and shopping which in fact came together in the last couple of days, in a way I didn’t expect.

Our adult handbell group at church, the Evensong Bells, gathered at Bruton Parish Church in Colonial Williamsburg to play about an hour program as part of the church’s Candlight Concert series, attended by tourists and locals alike. We played about nine pieces and Becky contributed a couple of nice organ solos. The church was fairly full and we played well (except for about 20 mistakes on my part–I rattle easily playing in front of people) and enjoyed the last program of the bell season. We packed up and went our separate ways.

Becky and I have evolved a system for trips to Williamsburg over the past 38 years since we first came on our honeymoon. It starts with the drive down. She likes to drive and is a fast driver so she does that. I like to navigate with my maps, Google driving directions, GPS and most recently my Navigator on my cell phone. I like to have backups.

Once we’re in Williamsburg, there are certain places Becky likes to hit to shop. Heretofore, for each shopping venue, we would arrange a time to meet and go our separate ways. She shopped, and I usually found a bookstore, browsed, read magazines, maybe had  some coffee and something to eat. Barnes and Noble in Merchants Square at Williamsburg is a fantastic place to do this. But this time, I took my laptop with me and thought, I can get in a few hours writing. And I did. I did about three days’ work on my novel in two days–six first/second draft pages. It ain’t much, but I write slowly. I’m used to writing short 650-1000 word pieces, doing them completely and then revising from ten to fifty times before sending them off. The novel, I don’t know. I have a sense I want to throw it down, fiddle with the wording some, finish that and then start going through it. I am counting on a first draft taking about six months and the revisions about as long.

So, the point is that one can write any time, anywhere, under a variety of circumstances. I was never one for studying or writing in a public place, but this worked well. I might start hanging out at coffee houses with my laptop. Other people provide something to look at while I’m puzzling over a turn of phrase. And when it’s time to go to Williamsburg again, it will be time for shopping and writing. 

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