You can’t write with wet hands

The best time for planning a book is while you’re doing the dishes. ~Agatha Christie

Book ideas run through my mind when I least want to think about them and without warning, I often find myself planning to write a book when it is least convenient, like when I’m on a bus or at a party or watching a movie or in the middle of a meeting or in the middle of a class. You get the idea. My mind has no schedule. It works when it wants and that’s almost all the time. If my mind had its way, I wouldn’t get any sleep at all. Incidentally, that’s also another time book ideas come to mind. Groping in the dark to reach for a pad and pen just to jot down an idea then scribbling away with my eyes barely open only gets me a lot of illegible scratches, the equivalent of incoherent talk from a drunk. Most of the time, when I have a story that needs to be written, it’s pretty much finished in my head before I write it down. Other times, I have the bare-bones idea of my story and I just write until I run out of things to write or I have to do a bit of research to add on or fatten up my content. The only writing I really plan out from beginning to end is academic writing or research or teaching references. Those need planning, writing, revising. Creative writing, on the other hand, is something I do manically because, admitedly, I am a very manic writer. I have never edited my poetry. I have reserved my short stories for future editing, because I know they haven’t all turned out the way I wanted them to. The ones that did, however, were written in one sitting. If I can’t finish writing a story in one sitting, I find I need to do more revisions. Some of my writer friends plan what they write before they actually write. I have one who uses stick-it notes and index cards and fills up a wall with them so that by the time she writes her book, all the has to do is fill in the details. For something like that, you need dry hands. How in the name of the writing muses does Agatha Christie plan her books while doing dishes? I would hate having to shake and wipe my hands dry over and over again each time I had to write down something. The only way I could make that work would be to have a voice recorder that I could speak into, so maybe that is how she plans. I can’t dictate my story to a voice recorder because I’m very visual and want to see the words; besides, listening to myself speaking just makes me feel really weird. Almost like I’m disembodied. I wonder how many dishes Agatha Christie broke.


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