“My book… was written on stalled subway cars, noisy cafes, and park benches…”
— Lincoln Michel
I wrote my book in between music classes on loose-sleeve paper in a library. My oboe sat on the floor at my feet and in my ears I had a cheap pair of earphones. I couldn’t write much in those days – the most I ever finished was a chapter or two. It was still too raw.
I wrote my book in the public library with my father at my side. He was creating a multilevel marketing company; I was writing books. I brought my USB stick and inserted it into the old computer. The librarian hovered nearby, anxious to be of assistance. When the afternoon had drawn to a close, we could hear the chains jingling on the gate outside, signaling the end of the work day. We would pack up our things – my father, his papers, me, my bag – and say goodbye to the librarian. We rode home through the city on our bikes.
I wrote my book at night, when the generator had run out of gas, and I was all alone in my Dad’s office downstairs in the dark, my laptop hooked up to a cable that ran out the screen door and to the car that was parked ten feet away, the hood up, wires entangling around the small electrical box that was attached to the car’s battery. We had no electricity during that year and had to charge our electronics by the battery in the car; every half hour, I would go out to the car, climb into the front seat, and turn on the engine, letting the battery recharge while I sat in the dark, damp silence.
I wrote my book sitting on my bed, staring at the unpainted walls of my new bedroom. Sweat formed on my upper lip, my temples, and I shifted uncomfortably, staring at the same pages on the same old Word document. Nothing changed much during those months.
I wrote my book on the back porch of our apartment, beneath the shade of a single tree – the which I often stared at, wondering how it got there, surrounded as it was by buildings and broken down gates. The fading sun glinted on my laptop screen.
I wrote my book after poring over old pictures, articles, newspaper clippings, journals, and medical notes. I compiled a box full of this sort of memorabilia.
I wrote my book at the dining room table. The television was blaring and the children played on the balcony outside the window. Trucks blared as they lumbered past and tires screeched as teenagers in their cheap, little cars raced past our humble little apartment – the Bucket House, as we called it, because of the leaks in the ceiling – blasting reggaeton music.
I wrote my book on a breaking down laptop, the wire rigged up to keep the battery charging. I kept it on a little desk next to my bed. No more sitting at the dining room table or hiding on the porch out back. I was stuck on my bed, staring at the now painted walls, struggling – as I had for years now – to put down on paper the words that tumbled around inside my head.
I wrote my book on the bedroom floor of a stranger’s house, now on my sister’s laptop. “Hiding out again?” People joked with me. I didn’t try to explain.
I wrote my book sitting in the living room of our new house. It was quieter now. The children still played and now there was the barking of dogs and the neighing of horses, but the trucks and screeching cars were gone. I wrote every day and the months passed quickly. At night, I scribbled my thoughts on scraps of paper in the dark and in the morning, tried to decipher them.
On New Years Day, 2015, I told my father that I had a present for him. I was newly twenty. The project that had encompassed my life from the time I was thirteen until the week I left behind the number nineteen had come to something of an end.
“I finished my book,” I told him.
“This is how you do it: you sit down at the keyboard and you put one word after another until its done. It’s that easy, and that hard.”
Writing prompt: where and how did you write your book?