There’s something strangely magical about thoughts on an airplane. I’ve written more rough drafts for this column than I can remember while flying.
Actually this column, and four future ones were started on a trip to Arizona recently. It seems like the thud of the wheels being stored shortly after takeoff turns on my writing imagination. I’ve learned over the years to have paper and pencil ready as soon as the wheels are off the concrete.
At 30,000 feet ideas and stories start coming demanding attention from all directions. I write as fast as I can because each screaming thought needs attention and I don’t want any to get away. My scribbling resembles the shorthand that my former secretary, Eleanor, used to use while trying to keep up with my gibberish. After she retired, I learned that she didn’t even know shorthand, but had a photographic memory.
Once I’ve reached my destination I look at my pad and try to descramble my scribbling. As I’m interpreting my thoughts and arranging each into a story they get better because I’m concentrating on only one idea at a time and refuse to allow another pesky thought to interfere. In time, they’ll all get their turn in the dark hole on the left side.
I’ve found working with one idea at a time is like building an outhouse: First you need a good foundation, and then “stuff” just happens.
When I started writing this column 10 years ago, I was overly concerned about what kind of impression I would make. That didn’t take long. A lot of you told me you were very surprised to learn that I could actually patch five words together on paper.
Now I have fun with the column because I’ve learned what I can get away with. It also helps to have a brilliant editor that knows talent when she sees it—and knows where to place all the periods, commas, etc.
Got to go now and make some airplane reservations.