My writing space changes from day to day, just like what I eat for breakfast: routine is not my default. When it’s nice outside, I often take my notebook and/or laptop out, even if it means squinting at the screen. The historical, parental voice in my head that tells me to “get outside and play” must be heeded. (And most of the time, writing does feels like playing. Except when it doesn’t…)
I also take my notebook or printed pages to cafes—rarely do I bring the laptop—and find the general din and mayhem feeds my work. The photo below was taken at a bookstore / café / garden in Tepoztlan, Mexico, six years ago, when I took myself on a month-long writing retreat. This brownie made me cry, it was so good—or maybe I was missing my family? In any case, this setting turned out to be a perfect spot to write.
We’ve recently moved into a townhouse, our own, after renting a house for years, and I’m still figuring out the best writing spot; I’m like the container of succulents I keep moving from window to window, trying to find the best light. Today it was sitting by the big patio window, in Goldie Hawn (our Seventies armchair). Often it’s at the dining room table, a Sixties “fruitwood” table that shows every drop of moisture as a white spot but then miraculously heals back to brown.
Sometimes it depends on what I’m working on, too; when I need to organize or sort, I take things to a bigger surface, to get the lay of the land—sometimes a hotel bed, like when I was wrestling my novel into chapters. Or my previous kitchen table, when I needed to figure out the order of Meteorites, my latest story collection.
I have a new desk in the new spare bedroom, and a corkboard filled with photos, quotes and a quilted wall hanging made by a friend, but honestly, the kitchen table, with a view through the living room to the garden beyond, will likely be my most common place to create. I’m an empty nester now, too, so when my husband is at work, and I’m not at my day job, I have the luxury of a quiet space. Until the parental voice in my head becomes too loud to ignore, and I’m out there beside the rosebushes, squinting away.
Photos courtesy of Julie Paul.