Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Tommyknockers - What every writer wishes they had


It creeps up on you and doesn't let you go. 

One minute you're so tired that you can't keep your eyes open, and the next minute your brain is on overdrive and you're still so tired that you can't keep your eyes open. 

So you lay there and let your brain run rampant. 

In my case, last night, it was on full overdrive. 

I did everything.  I rolled over.  I put a pillow over my head.  I got up and went to the bathroom.  I got a glass of water.  I even grabbed my phone and tweeted to whoever was awake and listening for insomnia to go away and tell my brain to shut up on the way out.

And then, it came to me...


Not the movie - the book.

Have you ever read it? 

"Late last night and the night before,
Tommyknockers, Tommyknockers,
Knocking at the door..."

I'm no genius, but this book holds the solution.

Stephen King, when he wrote "Tommyknockers", was expressing an idea that writers all over the world wish they had the ability to take advantage of.  Never mind the fact that his main character took her faithful old dog, neighbors, and unsuspecting community members and turned them into organic batteries - she figured out how to rig a telepathic typewriter.

Meaning, she could be out doing something else and writing the next great American Novel at the same time, via a device that looked like a typewriter but was rigged up to a ream of dot matrix printer paper and typed out exactly what she thought as she thought it.

Let me tell you, last night hasn't been the first night I've ever wished for that horrible invention, and it won't be the last.  I don't care if I have to turn everyone around me into a dry cell battery in my tool shed.

Ever since I was a little girl, telling myself stories in my head is how I've gotten myself off to sleep. 

These days, my brain gives me lengthy "to do" lists, churns out blog entry ideas, and continues to chew on its latest bedtime story - a sci-fi thriller regarding the consequences of unregulated colonization of planets where the colonists agreed to carry on the genetic experiments begun before they even left the Milky Way galaxy.

If I had my hands on a Tommyknockers contraption, do you know how much writing I could have done right now? 


Dragon software pales in comparison.


  1. Yeah, that's totally creepy...but I'm with you. I use my voice to text feature, but it sort of ruins the mood when I speak out loud. It's much better when it's kept inside the dark recesses of my imagination. If only I could express it telepathically to my laptop. Instead, I end up texting myself in the middle of the night. Just random bits of thought...just enough so I can make sense of in the morning. No one has to die for that, and it seems to work. For now anyway.

  2. I run into a problem where I get too tired to even talk out loud. My brain, however, doesn't give a shit. Lol. It's not fair!

  3. I have to admit, though Tommyknockers isn't my favorite King story, I could go for the telepathic typewriter thing. Heck I wouldn't even mind sacrificing my neighbors for it. :)

    The only problem I would have would be training my brain to edit....otherwise I'd wind up with a mishmash of stuff like:

    "The creature stalked that's a stupid idea...the werewolf...forget that, werewolves are played out...gee I wonder what's for lunch today..." :)

  4. LOL @ Rick G! I think I'd end up with the same nonesense!

    But having something type for me as I think would probably help me keep my procrastination more at bay, and it would be really helpful for those middle-of-the-night ideas.

  5. I know exactly what you mean. Last night, while tossing and turning, I wrote an entire short story series in my dreams. Trouble is, it made no sense when I woke up and I then I couldn't remember it. *sigh* This tommyknockers thing sounds like a great idea, although for a second there I thought you were implying that Stephen King books put you to sleep ;) Have a good one!

  6. Actually, I have fallen asleep reading Stephen King books, but only because I've been too stubborn to put them down. Lol.

    LOL @ Rick G., too, Rebecca. I'm afraid I'd have to contend with the same problems during the day - my brain is usually all over the place - but it would keep the procrastination at bay and think of all the material you would get to work with! :)

  7. I'm not sure that I would want people to know what went on in this head. ;)
    And...please...try fuel cells first? This old body would only get you five minutes of writing max before it started rattling off nonsense. :D

  8. I want one too! It would be uber awesome, especially for mornings where I wake up going, "now what was that plot point I was thinking about in bed last night?"

  9. Lol @Maureen. Don't worry. You won't be heading for the shed any time soon. You make me laugh too much. :)

    Anna, that's my thoughts, too. Better yet, it would be great if there were a Tommyknockers contraption to get video of your dreams as you dream them.... oh the things I could do with that footage!

  10. Loved Stephen King's On Writing and love this post too. cathy x

  11. Hmmm... There's an entire apartment complex up the street, built by the city after we bought our house. Since crime and drug abuse are currently rampant in said complex, I'd love to turn a few of the residents into batteries. Or compost. Hell, I'll even share!

  12. I have a tendency towards insomnia and thought so many times, I should just get up and write since I can't sleep anyways, but just can't get my lazy body out of bed. This contraption sounds perfect, and kind of scary at the same time...

  13. Perfectly scary but perfectly useful! Stephen King contraptions always come at a price, though. I'd sacrifice a few criminals for mine. :)

  14. It's about time I left a comment for one of my favorite posts (I share it enough!)... and I'm one of the stalwarts who don't like it when Stephen King fans think Tommyknockers is one of his weaker books... it had ideas - too many, and Under The Dome touched on some of these to better effect - but I love the chant and the writing dream.

  15. LOL! And I really do appreciate the sharing, Justin. I don't know as I've ever read a "weak" Stephen King book. I know Tommyknockers isn't a big fan favorite, but I enjoyed reading it all the same. He's never failed to terrify me with his ideas - sometimes I wonder how that man can sleep at night!