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Platt-etudes

PERSPIRATION: OR SWEATIN' BLOOD

Okay, this is how I do it: I get up at 4 am - each day - I might allow myself the luxury of 5 or even 6 on weekends, but sometimes start even earlier. I guess I'm just built that way. Maybe I need less sleep because I am short. I figure I can sleep when I'm dead. I know, I know. That arrangement might occur earlier if I don't get enough sleep. What a vicious cycle it is.

Anyway, early is important for me. So is coffee. My brain is fresh and this creative time belongs to me - no one else but me. Besides, a lot of my contacts are on the East Coast and it really impresses them when they arrive at work to my voice or email posted at 7 am their time.

On a good day, I will write 15-25 pages, first draft. Close your mouth, there's nothing spectacular about that. Note the words 'first draft.' Just get the damn thing written. Let it flow and let it flow freely. I always FASGAP -Forget About Spelling, Grammar and Punctuation. These wretched little details have no business interfering with a first draft.

There are bad days, too. Stare at the blank-computer-sscreen-and-wonder why-the-hell-I-didn't-stay -in-acting-where-the-REAL-security-is-days. Wondering what a retirement income is. What's an IRA? Some group of uppity folk in Ireland? What the heck are bennies other than uppers? Decent health insurance? Writers don't get sick, they bleed to death. Those are usually the thoughts that occur to me when I stare at a blank screen. So then I remind myself I better get writing BECAUSE of those thoughts! No writtie, no checkie.

So then it goes until noon. I make myself quit at a point in my writing that really excites me because the toughest thing in the world is to stare at that blank computer screen at 4 am! I know a lot of writers who use this trick - intentionally leave themselves (and their characters!) dangling for rescue the next day. Or, as is many times the case for me, I have once again painted myself into a corner and simply have to wait for the paint to dry before I can go back and start all over.

So, it's around noon. Food. I then declare nap-time! The dogs and cats, like cranky toddlers, ramble reluctantly into the bedroom and we all sack out for about a half hour. When I am declared God'O'Things, I will pass a law saying everyone has to take a nap after lunch. Naps are a good thing, right Martha?

Then back to work, but only the grunt work this time. Research, return calls, write letters, library.... still work, but not really creative work.

Then, of course, handball with buddies or a nice long run outside, rain or shine. It will not surprise you to learn that I am in bed usually by eight, staring incoherently at television or rereading the same sentence for about an hour. Telephone me after nine and you get exactly what you deserve: a babbling idiot and probably a chilly reception. I fall asleep reminding myself where I left off with my current book and looking forward to 4 am the next day.

THIS HAS BEEN A PERFECT DAY!

Randall Platt
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Ten books that made me examine myself, my life and my own writing:
  1. To Kill A Mockingbird - Harper Lee
  2. Life of Pi - Yann Martel
  3. The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon - Stephen King
  4. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time - Mark Haddon
  5. The Name Above The Title - Frank Capra
  6. A Lesson Before Dying - Ernest Gaines
  7. The Professor and the Madman - Simon Winchester
  8. The Handmaiden's Tale - Margaret Atwood
  9. Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
  10. The Color Purple - Alice Walker