Welcome to my writing room.
I call it that, but other kinds of working and living happen here as well — painting, playing, sewing, tutoring, napping. It is also not the only place I write. In summer, you are just as likely to find me working on my front porch. In winter, I often write in the bath. And, of course, so much of writing is not writing at all, but reading, listening, thinking. I do these things while I’m going about my day, chopping onions, pulling weeds, packing my children’s lunches. I am constantly jotting down notes to myself on index cards, or pausing mid-dog walk to email myself cryptic little ideas or bits of dialogue that have popped into my head.
BUT. To have a quiet space with an actual door that closes to which I can retreat when it’s time to lay out all my scraps and stitch them together? That’s a blessing I don’t take for granted. When I am deep down in the querying trenches, or slogging away at revisions, this is where I come.
Not that that door is entirely impenetrable. My children like to work and play in here as well, messing with my art supplies, writing each other coded messages on all of my sticky notes. There is a bin of mostly-naked Barbies on the couch right now, and magnet tiles spread over the carpet. During lockdown, this is where much of the homeschooling happened. But the door does keep the dog out, which is important, because he loves to eat my pencils.
At the far end of the room, a pair of desks sit below windows that look out into the tops of the trees behind our house. One is a utilitarian Ikea trestle table, raised to standing height and mostly used for cutting fabric when I’m sewing. The other is an antique pine table that was the kitchen table in my childhood home. On top of it you will find either my laptop or my sewing machine, along with an impressive assortment of dirty coffee cups.
Beside the desk is a big board my mom made for me out of sheets of foam insulation wrapped in flannel, intended as a place to piece quilts. Mostly, I use it to tack up story ideas, outlines, and little drawings and notes from my kids.
There are books in the room, of course, many about writing and teaching. By my desk there is a basket where I try to keep the library books corralled.
There is a couch along one wall, perfect for curling up in a morning sunbeam to read or rest your eyes. It may be a little faded and saggy these days, but once upon a time it was the first grown-up piece of furniture my husband and I bought together. Above the couch are picture ledges that house a rotating assortment of picture books. The ledges are flanked with artwork by some of my favourite illustrators and artists, including Carson Ellis, Isabelle Arsenault, Amanda Farquharson, my children.
I feel so lucky to have this space, because it is bright, and personal, and quiet, and because it has so many nooks and crannies in which to jam all of my stuff. Most of all, I cherish what it represents, which is the room I have carved within my own life to do this work. It embodies the incredible gifts of time, money, childcare, and faith that my family has invested in my writing, even when I had no idea if it would lead anywhere at all.
Kate Jenks Landry lives in Kitchener, ON, with her husband Michael and their pair of wiley, brilliant daughters. She spends her days writing, baking, reading, re-writing, drinking dangerous amounts of very hot coffee, re-writing some more, and endlessly walking her dog.
Her poetry has appeared in The New Quarterly, Acta Victoriana, The Harthouse Review, Ecolocation, and Room Magazine. Her debut picture book, Beatrice and Barb, is forthcoming from Kids Can Press in 2023, with a second to follow in 2024.
Photos courtesy of Kate Jenks Landry.