Guestpost: Cris Cohen, Where To Write?

Cris CohenToday we welcome a guestpost from Cary, NC author and comedian, Cris Cohen! Cris is going to talk to us today about his favorite place to write–almost anywhere!

When people find out that I am a writer, the first question they usually ask is, “How long have you had a drinking problem?” After a few awkward moments of conversation (“Lots of people have Merlot at breakfast”), they will move on to questions like, “Where do you write?”

There is a temptation to tell them that I have a wood-paneled office in my house that has walls lined with first editions of Dickens, Hemingway, and “Bomb Defusing For Dummies.” You want to make it sound like a mystical experience involving the full moon and maybe some sort of animal sacrifice, even if you are just referring to barbecue. “Are you sure the ancient Druids used a smoker.” I also consider feeding into the myth by saying I write with a quill, one of those huge ones that you see in movies, the kind that look like they were pulled from a bird the size of a Winnebago.

The truth is not quite so majestic, though. I write pretty much anywhere, except, say, while driving. “Honey, I want to jot something down. Take the wheel and let me know when to brake.” Although our house has an office that I use, it’s not like what I described above. Instead, the walls are painted and are lined with paperbacks, signed album covers, and roughly six hundred power cords.

I write in the office some of the time, but I can’t spend all day in there. Not that I would mind that. Sometimes my dream vacation involves being put under house arrest. “I carved a slot at the bottom of the door that you can push my meals through.” However, I have to leave the office and even the house for errands, appointments, and to reacquaint myself with things like, well, the sun.

Be it out of the office or out of the house entirely, I usually have a notebook with me. Sometimes it is a composition notebook, the type that they give school kids that has a kind of black and white Rorschach design on the cover. “We use these to test if any of the children have been experimenting with hallucinogens.” Otherwise I have a small notebook with me, something that can fit in a jacket pocket.

I will then write whenever and wherever I have more than five minutes to kill. This can be:

In a doctor’s waiting room, where the only other option is to read one of those celebrity magazines. “How this famous actress courageously got back into shape, relying only on her determination, personal trainer, nutritionist, chef, masseuse, psychologist…”

 At a store when my wife goes to the dressing rooms to try on a couple of items. It is either that or walk around the women’s department like a man who is fighting the urge to be a transvestite.

While at the mechanic during my car’s oil change. “And that thermos in the lounge contains either coffee or something from Penzoil. I can’t remember.”

When my son wants me to stay in the room while he watches a DVD. After all, I am quite happy to sit on the couch with him. But after the fiftieth viewing of a video, I am no longer in suspense about what Elmo is going to do next.

So when people ask me where I write, I usually answer “Almost anywhere”. I then give a more thorough explanation about why I don’t have a drinking problem.

About Cris:

Cris Cohen, the author of the “Nothing In Particular” blog, was born in Buffalo, NY, and grew up in a suburb of Los Angeles, eventually graduating from the University of Southern California. After a stint in rock radio in Los Angeles and Santa Barbara, Cris started writing his humor column for a collection of California newspapers. He eventually gravitated toward the tech world and Silicon Valley, working for companies such as Netscape and Cisco Systems. Cris, his wife Michele, and their young son Max moved to Cary, North Carolina, in 2008. Cris’ blog is available at http://criscohen.typepad.com. Read about how Cris and his creative website to land a job here, from Raleigh’s News and Observer. His first book, Staying Crazy To Keep From Going Insane, is due out in the fall of 2011. For more information visit www.stayingcrazy.com

Your Turn:

Where do you write best? Do you keep to a certain schedule and if you do, are mornings or evenings or somewhere in between the best time to write?

Posted in: Writing

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2 Comments

  1. Jeff Davis July 25, 2011

    I would like to write in Key West like Hemingway, but I think it would nearly impossible. Unless you’re writing about bars and bikinis, it’s a extremely distractive place to write. I write on the coast of Penobscot Bay in Maine. I built a little room on the side of the garage with a large window that gives me a view of Fort Point cove with Blue Hill in the background. Although I hardly see it when I write. Its usually dark out and all I see is the bugs flying around the porch light. Has anyone done a remake of the Fly?

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    • Alice Osborn July 25, 2011

      Thank you, Jeff. I think I can write anywhere as long as it’s deathly quiet, but I really like your idea! Hope you can stop by my blog again soon! Alice

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