Blog, Journal, On Writing

A Driving Experiment

If you’re reading this, hopefully, it means I’m well on my way across the country. 25 hours from Helena Montana to Springfield, Missouri. It’s a lot of open flat road and contemplative isolation. Just me, the highway, a few podcasts, and audiobooks, and as much dictation as I can force my voice to put out.

I’m not entirely certain when I came up with the goal of writing a book while driving across country. I think it was sometime in my early 20s, but I couldn’t tell you for sure. The idea of just driving and writing has sat at the back of my mind during every conversation of what my dream of life would be like. Those are the two things I enjoy the most. I love to drive, and I love to write.

I probably have a long way to go before I can just dictate a novel off-the-cuff like Jubal Hershaw. I’d like to think that I have the creativity and drive to do it, and the raw animal magnetism necessary to attract a herald of women to take dictation, but I don’t think I have either. Of course, anyone familiar with stranger in a strange land knows that Jubal Hershaw was far from a sex symbol.

That’s not really the point of what I’m saying right now though.

I will focus on the goal. My goal is to write a novel using nothing but my voice, a Bluetooth headset, and a phone as I drive across country. Of course, there are some issues to work out. For starters, the Google voice typing keyboard on my phone does not like any punctuation besides the standard period, exclamation point, and question mark.

That means no quotations.
No brackets.
No em dashes or asides.

Still, I think I can do it. It might not be good, but I think I can produce what is technically known as a novel.

After all, what is a novel?

I think most definitions are 50,000 words to tell a story. Of course, if you read my books, you know that I don’t actually write 50,000 words. Most of my books fall into the 35-40,000-word range. Based on the speed with which I compose blog posts an email using Dragon NaturallySpeaking, a roughly 150 words per minute, I should technically be capable of composing 450,000 words during the combined 50 hours of my drive time.

It’s unrealistic with my level of skill and creativity, but mathematically, that would be 10 of my books.

I’m hoping to be able to complete one draft of one.

I’m not even making on it being very good. I’m not planning for it to be anything I publish. It is merely an experiment of a dream. And not off my bucket list, if you will.

Who knows? Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe this is exactly the way I need to be writing. Maybe I will compose the greatest piece of literary work ever composed.

I doubt it, but it’s possible.

For now, it’s just one dream. I’m hoping to realize.

I’ll see you next week when I can regale you with tales of getting my ass kicked by nerds with swords.

(Sorry LARPers, you guys be nerds.)

Published by M.A. Brotherton

M.A. Brotherton is a writer, blogger, artist, and fat-kid from the suburbs of Kansas City, Missouri. He’s tasted a little bit of everything the Midwest has to offer, ranging from meth-tweaking rednecks in massive underground cave complexes to those legendary amber waves of grain. When he’s not writing, he spends most of his time screwing around on the internet.