Kerrie Penney’s Writing Space
I write in an open loft, the area between my bedroom and my daughter’s. The only door, a glass one, opens to a small west facing balcony. Today bare crab apple branches scratch the sky; in three full moons they will be transformed, aching under the weight of fragrant white blossoms.
In any season, squirrels and magpies vie for my attention, the former dangling from bird feeders in a show my friend calls “Squirrel du Soleil”, the later squawking non-stop encouragement.
In short, this is a den of distraction; I require rituals to stay focused.
First I light a candle then silently call in the directions beginning with east, the energy of air. Then to south for fire, west and water and finally north, and the grounding of earth and the ancestors.
Spotify provides a soundtrack of classical or healing frequencies, which cancel the audio drifting from the screens downstairs. (I live with two other humans).
On the floor, near the lateral filing system that is the latest draft of my multi-genre-mash-up of a memoir, I have several decks of divination cards. Most days I’ll sit on the rug, set an intention and draw at least one card, using the message as a theme for the day.
I have a computer, notebooks and fine tip felt pens, and an ergonomic desk chair. On my desk is an active to-do list which reminds me to generate, edit, or submit. I came to creative writing at midlife and am keenly aware of how precious time is.
This is how I get myself into the chair and get going. However, I cannot “go” indefinitely, so I schedule breaks more or less every 30 minutes, riffing on the Pomodoro method.
Rather than head downstairs to rotate laundry, I play—the office is thick with toys: felt fox with a scarf, tiny bunny, my Titano accordion, and a fairly new ukulele. I play and sing (my housemates are not always enthralled), but it keeps the energy moving and provides a kind of creative wayfinding.
My space is littered with ghosts and ancestors, over there my mother smiles at me from the makeshift altar, next to the candle that burns, today to amplify throat chakra energy. There are many crystals and photos.
I seek and follow the rhythms of the season, the moon, the energy of the days. I track the months, breaking my year into creative quarters. Next to the to-do list are three piles of recipe cards: the months (January) the astrological seasons (Capricorn) and the days of the week (Thursday, Jupiter’s day). According to the attributes of Jupiter, this is a day to be brave and take chances. Perhaps it’s why I am stepping outside my comfort zone, writing of the somewhat mystical processes that help
me write. In fact, it was after playing ukulele (while wearing my mother’s hat) that I wrote the first draft of my poem “Three Feelings Walk Into a Bar.”
I am deeply interested in accessing the desire lines that intersect the worlds of the seen and unseen and I use tools to help me get there. In the end, it’s up to me to do the work, but the rest, as they say, is magic.
Kerrie Penney lives and works on Treaty 7 land, the traditional and ancestral territory of the Blackfoot Confederacy, in what is now known as southern Alberta. Her words have have appeared in The New Quarterly, Funny Pearls UK, the YYC Poet Laureate project This Might Help, blue buffalo, The Short Edition short story dispenser. Her first chapbook My Garden Alphabet was released in 2022. She is currently working on her first full length book “A Prairie Grimoire”.