After my father passed away from lung cancer in early May, my car—which was his old car—finally kicked the hub cap a few weeks later when—ironically—I went to the post office to pick up his ashes. Without a car to drive, I had to rely on a friend to drive me to work in the mornings and take the light rail home in the evenings. Since public transit takes forever to cross Silicon Valley, I spent my commute time writing and editing. Something I used for many years before I got a car.
After getting off work at the hospital, I’ll cross the street for the bus that will take 15 minutes to get over to the light rail station in Mountain View. I’m usually listening to an audio book on my iPod Touch for this part of the trip. I don’t want to get distracted with writing and editing that I miss the stop at the transit center. After I get off bus and walk over to the light rail station, I’ll pull out my clipboard and spend the next 15 minutes to see what I need to do for that day. When the light rail train pulls into the station, I’ll take a seat inside and work for the next 75 minutes. Walking home from the light rail station takes ten minutes.
My clipboard almost always has four unfinished short stories at various stages of being written or edited. If I’m writing new material, I’m using a black Pilot G2 pen. If I’m editing old material, I’m using a red Pilot Precision V5 pen. If a short story has a submission date, I’ll focus on that one. Otherwise I’ll jump around to the different short stories until I’m done or stop in mid-sentence. If get stuck on something that won’t budge, I’ll doze off for the rest of the trip like so many other passengers do. After I have dinner, I’ll update the corresponding e-files and print out new copies to re-load the clipboard.
This break from driving came at a good time. I was going through a creative drought prior to my father’s death and taking a summer break from publishing ebooks. I’m using the “spare time” from riding public transit to get back into writing and editing short stories again.
Writing and editing on public transit will soon end as I get a new used car to resume driving again. The extra 90 minutes spent on the public transit will be behind my writing desk at home, where the distractions are numerous and my motivation diminished. If only I had the discipline to haul my sorry ass out of bed before the crack of dawn to take the public transit in the morning, I would have three hours of enforced writing and editing time. Like that will never happen.