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John Childress

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An Author’s Lunch . . .

 I have been through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened.  ~Mark Twain

Writers and authors are strange creatures indeed. First of all, they keep strange hours, more akin to a night club owner. Second of all, they live in two worlds at the same time; the world of you and I and everyday events, and also the world of make-believe characters, stories, plots, subplots and dreams. And to them, both are very real!

twain shotAnd if that is not weird enough, they spend most of their time alone.  Unlike the hermit who hides out in a cabin in the woods, away from other people, the writer is alone in a crowd, at home with family, on an airplane or train.  Always alone, but never lonely; their brain is always ticking over with characters and locations, plots and of course, that one great line that will be remembered for ever. “Quite frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn!” or “Ask not for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee!

But, like all humanoids, authors and writers must eat, and their favourite meal (at least mine) is lunch! Most of us are awake by 11am or so after a long night of writing and while breakfast is the important meal for normal people, lunch kick starts our day. And for those writers with families and school age children, after getting up and making certain everyone gets out of the house on time, then checking email, doing dishes and light housework, and a little editing, lunch signals the beginning of our workday.

For most authors, food and drink are their muses (the order of importance varies as the writing progresses), while for painters muses usually have two legs and other great attributes! So, for an author, lunch is of great importance and there are at basically three different types of author lunches.

lunchMost days, lunch for an author is a solitary affair, at least solitary in terms of other people.  And being alone in quiet surroundings is one of the most productive times for the creative process.  I tend to have my lunches out in my garden, weather permitting, and I find that the hour flies along and by the time I come out of my reverie, my notebook has several new pages of ideas and my salad is finished. The fascinating thing about being a writer is how random thoughts and ideas, planted days or weeks ago, can link together into new insights over a relaxing lunch, and a glass of wine!

The second type of author lunch is the “research lunch”, where the author is interviewing one or two people over lunch.  In this case, lunch is the false focus, while the writer probes for new information, insights, stories, and events that can help move Wiltonshis work forward.  All writers get their inspiration from real life people and events, then twist them (either a little or a lot, as in science fiction) to fit into their plot.  Often times the most off-hand comment opens a flood gate of ideas.

For this type of lunch, a moody and energetic atmosphere seems to work best, as the commotion and activity tends to help our guests relax and drop their guard.  My favorite places in London are Wilton’s Oyster Bar and Restaurant (akin to the bistros of San Francisco), Sheeky’s in Covent Garden, and the Royal China in Bayswater.  All great places for a “working” lunch.

outdoor lunchAnd the third type of author lunch, is when you need a bit of cheering up and for that, a crowd of noisy, fun people is just the ticket. Not much work gets gone after these lunches, which thankfully are  not too often, but the company, wine and laughter does the trick when you everything in the world sucks, especially last few chapters!

If the day is sunny, have lunch outdoors in the garden or a nearby park.  If it’s rainy and wet, spread a big table cloth on the dining table and crowd around.  Some background music helps tremendously.  And the best thing about these superb and noisy lunches? A nap afterwards.


It’s amazing what a nap can do to get your writing back on track!

Tight Lines . . . and keep writing

John R Childress