An Update: Writing in Public Locations

Posted: January 1, 2011 in On Writing
The KOIN Center in Portland, Oregon. Photo tak...

The KOIN Tower

In October I talked about wanting to get out of the house and try writing in some of the locations I am writing about.

I did so recently at the KOIN Tower in downtown Portland, the scene of chapter 12 of my newest effort, “The Hollywood Detectives.”

Unfortunately, things could have gone better. I went in the wrong entrance and took the escalator to the old movie theater entrance and from there I found an elevator that took me to the 10th floor. I figured, wrongly, I could transfer to another elevator and go to the top (34th floor). But there was no other connecting elevator. I decided to use the stairwell and walk up a few floors and find the elevator that was not available on the tenth floor. I mean, there were 34 floors so there must be another elevator, right?

That’s when I found out all the upper floors were not accessible–the doors were locked. So I started down the stairs. The stairwell doors on those floors all were locked too. I had to walk down to the street level, checking each door at each floor all the way down. I was relieved when I got to the street level and was able to get out.

Next I found another entrance (there were at least three of them all together). A guard looked at me suspiciously when I told him I was a writer and wanted to research the building for my novel. He wouldn’t let me take the elevator up and had to think about it for a long hard minute before he allowed me to sit in the lobby and write.

An hour and a half later I had finished seven pages of a chapter consisting of way too many building details when disaster struck again. My laptop battery died and when I plugged in to an outlet, chapter 12 was gone. All was not lost, I rewrote it later using all of a paragraph to describe the KOIN Tower and elevated my scene with a fight between my hero and one of his suspects, much to the approval of the suspect’s employees, who hated him. A cheer erupted as our hero descended in–what else–an elevator.

The scene was written in my easy chair on my laptop at home. I still plan to visit locales I plan to write about, but may save the actual writing at my virtual desk at home, aka my easy chair.

  1. Helen Wand says:

    Who knew researching was so dangerous! Sounds like you got what you needed, but lost a chapter in the process. Is that what “robbing Peter to pay Paul” is all about? In spite of the hazards, research is my favorite part of writing. My freind and fellow writer tells me that you can only use 10% of your research when you tell your story, but you must have the other 90% to give your story authenticity. I thought that was good advice!

  2. […] my volunteer experience at Wordstock in 2010 and I also tried writing in public places, promptly getting trapped inside the KOIN tower stairway because the doors were all […]

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