I have written in many different spaces around the world – from a cafe in Guayaquil to a boat in Kochi, temple steps in Ladakh to gitano cave in Granada, under the stars in Mpumalanga and beside a tango floor in Almagro. This is testament to a long life of someone who loves travel; but it also symbolizes my creativity, more active when engaging with the eternal world. I need to look outwards in order to go inward. Perhaps that explains my preference for literary nonfiction and the personal essay, forms that integrate inner and outer, the individual consciousness and the wide world.
The last few years of covid isolation, combined with my own physical mobility constraints (hopefully improving after surgery), have called for a different strategy. I live beside the Lachine Canal in Montreal, and my space has become a book-filled window to the changing seasons.
I do now have an office, overflowing with books and relics of various travels, personal mementos and imagination-inspiring images. It also holds a large corkboard, currently in use to deconstruct my work-in-progress with colour-coded sticky notes. But mostly I write at my dining table, looking out the front window to the changing seasons of the canal. Or I sit in one of the light-filled spaces, again overflowing with books, letting the views inspire more internal journeys.
Kitty Hoffman, the daughter of refugees, is a writer and spiritual director living in Montreal. Her award-winning work has appeared in PRISM, Malahat, Grain, The Common, and Boulevard, as well as several anthologies.
Photos courtesy of Kitty Hoffman.