Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

Author’s Corner: The Creative Period

I was recently asked in a workshop how I find time to write. I had just surprised the audience when I asserted that I can write a 90,000 novel in 100 days. I have done this twice this year and would keep writing if I didn’t have to attend to marketing and promotion. All this while holding down a challenging full-time job and being an active and involved husband, father and community member.

Finding a couple of hours on a road trip

Many authors have their own personal framework: the sacred space in the house, listening to music, the writer’s retreat, and many more. Whatever works for you is right, but my desk in our kitchen. I swivel my chair around and I am at the dinner table. I can write in coffee shops, on the BART train ride as I commute, while several boys enjoy a rambunctious play-date in our tiny house.

It is a state of mind. When I am writing a novel, I am in an intimate relationship with my characters. Given that I do not plan my novels, I am absorbed in the plot, sharing the thrill of what might happen next, just as my readers and characters do.

I am able to switch off, to leave my characters while I focus at work or home, and switch back on when I have an hour to write. What I do think is important is that I am writing consistently. When I am in the creation process, I must write every day. In fact, I suspect that I can become quite insufferable when I am not keeping up with my characters.

Writing our 1st Fantasy novel on a camping trip - a team effort!

It is an amazing thrill, a rush, to see the novel taking shape under my fingertips. It is what makes the periods between writing so frustrating, and what keeps me coming back for more.

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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/and on Twitter (#alonshalevsf).

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