In the July/August 2013 issue of Writers Digest seven authors took the readers behind their desks to look at the totems that inspire them and keep them writing. I looked around and didn’t find any inspirational totem. Woe is me. But the article did inspire me to write about my writing space with pictures. (A disclaimer here – I cleaned it up before taking pictures or at least what you can see.) A while back I remember Sandy Parshall posting pictures of her writing spot and other Guppies, a chapter of Sisters in Crime, followed with pictures of their own writing spots, too.
|My nesting chair where I write early mornings.
Recently Edith Maxwell on the Guppy anthology blog (http://fishtalesanthology.blogspot.com)
blogged about going on a writing retreat somewhere by water and staying in a monastic room and how much writing she could accomplish there. She didn’t say where it was. The following week Gigi Pandian blogged about writing in coffee cafes and how her writing flows there. I know some of my fellow bloggers have written about writing in cafés or coffee shops, too. So that got me to thinking about where I write best even though I don’t have any inspirational writing totems in my clutter, or if I do, I can’t see them to have them inspire me.
Twice I attended Seascape Writers Retreat in Connecticut, and while it was a good experience in many ways, I couldn’t write in the afternoon set aside for writing. We were to work on making changes from the critiques we’d received. Instead, I took a walk in the woods or read in my room.
|My library.dinning room table where I write.
I have never been able to write at workshops where a prompt is given to us, either. I sit there distracted by all the others writing furiously to finish their great ideas in the ten to fifteen minutes allotted to us. Finally, I start writing something, but it’s too brief and pathetic to share with all the other brilliant and talented writers willing to share their work. The truth is that except for my journal which I can write in anywhere, I can’t write anyplace other than my home. As for the journal, it doesn’t contain anything anyone would want to read anyway so it doesn’t matter where I write it. It’s more a litany of what I did that day, where I went, what I saw, etc. In fact, the only way anyone would want to read it is if they suffer from insomnia, maybe.
|Where I edit my final drafts.
So in spite of daily distractions from phone calls from family, friends or telephone solicitors - no I don’t have caller ID because I don’t want family or friends to think I’m screening my calls when I don’t answer - and the distractions of my dog or cats deciding it’s time for me to pay attention to them, I still do my best writing at home - but only in specific places. I write poetry or my blogs in my nesting chair in the living room usually in the mornings with coffee and before I have my breakfast. I work on the first draft of short stories or my books at the table in my library/dining room/office in one particular spot. All my work starts out written in long hand on notebook paper with a pen before being typed into the computer. I do all my editing on the computer. There have been a few times I’ve written on the patio in the summer, but that is rare because I get distracted by birds at the feeder or hummingbirds at the hanging flowers or even an annoying fly or yellow jacket.
In the same Writers Digest article I mentioned at the beginning, the totem that resonated with me was J.T. Ellison’s. When she first started writing, she wrote to Stuart Woods, a well-published author, for advice. He wrote back and said, “There are no rules except those you create page by page.” So she keeps those words on a sign on her door. I think that’s not only a good rule for our actual writing, but also for where we are most comfortable writing. For me it’s at home alone except for my mostly sleeping critters.
Actually, after I'd typed this and sent it for review, Gilda, a friend of mine in one of my book clubs sent me this picture. I think I'll frame it and use it for my totem because actually it expresses my view, too.
Even if you write nothing more than letters or cards to someone, where do you write best?