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The grind of writing in Solitary Confinement – how Robert Heinlein saw it pre www

(Blogified 25/09/2004. Accessed 22/01/2011)

‘A writer spends his professional time in solitary confinement, refusing to accept telephone calls and declining to see visitors, surrounded by a dreary forest of reference books and somewhat-organized papers.’

Robert A. Heinlein. 1980.

In 1975, Heinlein was my god. ‘Time Enough for Love’ was my bible. Send me a copy, I still need it.

I am this writer, when the opportunity offers itself to me. I have my den, my office, my space, and my shelves to the ceiling. I am like a fattening guinea pig unable to give birth because of the number of ‘kittens’ I have in the making.

I will burst from this space above a Red Cross Charity Shop in Lewes, East Sussex, England and spill my brains onto the street. I am will have fame posthumously at this rate.

My problem?

I cannot ‘get anything out.’ I clock up the words, I fill pages, I print the stuff off, but I can never look back.

Writing needs to be like an exam and needs to take place under exam conditions. Exams that got me into Balliol College, Oxford to ‘read’ modern history required A and B grades in three ‘High School’ exams, I produced two As and two Bs. The ‘Oxbridge Exam,’ I have the papers somewhere, were and additional test, five papers over three days? I don’t remember?

I swam then, surfed them, and ran with them.

I found answering these papers exhilarating. I knew all there was to know; I had methods to ‘extract’ detail from my head. That’s how writing should be, a flurry of surfing waves, of jumping mounds of snow, an exciting ride that ends as you planned a minute or so after time is called on your work.

This is how I write.

I write in bursts, at best, three hours at a time. Not in 30 minutes, not in 24 hours … but in three hours.

I have a hundred ‘mind bursts,’ three hundred hours of writing to cohere, to fix, to finish and send out.

I miss my online lovers, I miss my contacts, I miss this silly world where we miscreants share our lives.

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