I do this weird thing when I’m working on a book. I carry the manuscript around with me everywhere I go. Or, in the case of my fiction collection Crushes, I carry the paperback proof copy around with me everywhere I go. I can’t remember who gave this advice to me initially, or if I read about it somewhere, but I heard it and realized that I was doing it and so I just sort of kept on doing it.
Why I Carry My Manuscripts Everywhere
I like carrying my manuscripts and books around with me for a few reasons. Firstly, it helps me at least to think about the book while I’m doing other things. I’m very busy. I’m in grad school, I work full time at an office in Downtown Louisville, I’m editing a literary magazine again, and I blog on my personal website (this thing you’re reading right now) every day. Now there’s also this book that I’m working on, not to mention the other fiction I’m writing now as well.
If I just leave this book that I need to finish proofing on my desk, I might get to it one day. However, if I carry it with me throughout the day to the coffee shop or to the office, I’ll at least be thinking about it some. And, usually, I’ll open it up and look at it at least once a day, which is better than once a week or once a month. This also works with early drafts my manuscripts, before they are in book form.
The other reason I carry my manuscripts around with me is to initiate conversation. Yes, it’s fun to brag that I’m writing a book. In addition to it being fun, it’s also useful for me when people ask me about my work. When people ask me a question like “what’s your book about?” I usually have to answer them. And, when it’s a fiction collection, the answer can be tricky. I didn’t actually have a good title for the book at first. I didn’t until I realized through a conversation with someone that my short stories were all about sexuality and relationships. By the end of the conversation, I was saying, “So actually I guess it’s about crushes.” It also helped me with the description on the back of the book.
It Might Look Funny
I carried my manuscripts around with me in college during my undergrad years a lot, too. People looked at me funny, but it helped me stay creative and productive. I think people thought I was a little stuck-up or snobby because of it. Maybe I was, I don’t know. I was also a very strict workshopper in writing workshop groups. Not sorry. The point is, it worked. I ended up with enough short stories to publish a fiction collection.
I’m definitely not a pro at this book thing yet, but I do enjoy it and I’m learning a lot about it as I go. If you’re a writer, do you carry your manuscripts around with you everywhere? Do you think it’s embarrassing? Comment below. Does this also work with other forms of art? For instance, if you had a giant painting that you were working on and you wanted to carry it with you to coffee shop, would it help? If anyone tries it, let me know. If you’re not in a creative mood at the moment, what are you up to today?