From Harlan Ellison’s FAQ page: Is it true that Ellison once wrote a complete story while sitting in a bookstore display window?
Yes. In fact, he has written more than 40 stories that way and in other public places, including a live radio show. He sometimes asks spectators for a story title or theme and produces a story to match on the spot.
“Writing without a net” is one of my favorite exercises. I’ve written several stories in this fashion, including Autumn Moon & the Book of Secrets, Ashes to Ashes, and The Devil’s in the Details, among others. Wyrdtails is just the latest of such experiments and I’ve really enjoyed the writing of it so far.
I’ve been asked what the process is. Well, there isn’t one, really, beyond sitting down before the keyboard and hammering something out for about thirty minutes or so. Beforehand, I do reread what’s come before, just so I can slip back into voice, but otherwise, it’s just me having a go of it.
My brain’s usually churning a million miles a second. It’s why I’ve never written by way of outline. I know something better’s going to pop up any second, so I run with it all, unfettered.
I operate better when I give my imagination free reign, or is that free rein? I think it’s bloody both, no?
So, I expect Wyrdtails will wrap up next week. One more installment. Or maybe two. Feels like an end coming, but then, who’s to say? When one’s writing without a net, anything’s possible.
I fully expect one day to begin one of these things and have it never stop and someone will find me dead at my desk, fingers on the keyboard and on the monitor and ongoing string of the last letter before the end came… an attempt at immortality, to be cut short by a power outage or some paramedic who fails to realize the import of the keystroke into forever —
Let my critics decipher that once I’m gone.
Anyway, I hope you’re enjoying Wyrdtails. I know I’m digging it on my end.
More next week…