This week in Writing Spaces, we take a look at the working space of Isabella Wang, author of “Shortcomings of a Juvenile” in Issue #146.
Since I am always on the move, going from school to volunteering, to Downtown Vancouver for my creative writing classes, I do not have one designated spot where I do all of writing. With that said, I do have my preferences, and rituals.
Let me first introduce the space that has influenced my writing the most, and that is my English teacher, Mr. McLennan’s classroom. He’s my favourite teacher. He doesn’t know that. I met him in grade 10 when I was first placed in his class, and when the year ended, I figured out a way to dare I say, ‘hack’ the system so I could be guaranteed a place in his class for another two years. I had always loved writing as a child, but that faded over the years until I rediscovered it again in his class. He’s the only person that can tie the line, “They could not, would not do ’t” from King Lear, to “would not on a boat, will not with a goat” from Green Eggs and Ham. Let’s see, things about him… I don’t know that much actually. Mr. McLennan is very good at drawing circles. The grade 9s find him intimidating. He has a fur vest on his chair, and has a guitar that he only plays when nobody else is in the room. Every day, he writes a pun on the board for us with his insane calligraphy skills, but they usually aren’t that funny. I’m a harsh critic. On many mornings before school starts, he would carry stacks of paper up the stairwell for the English department’s printer, and my best friend and I have wondered why it is always he that does it. Also, if you ever meet him, ask him to read Beowulf in Middle English for you—it is the best thing that you’ll ever hear. My entire world grew out of his classroom, but he doesn’t know that either. I don’t think he gives himself enough credit. So, Mr. McLennan, thank you.
Vancouver itself has influenced my writing. I like going on long strolls in the city rather than busing home from my writing classes or volunteering, and I go hiking in the forest by my house on weekends. These walks take hours. I cherish them, because I rarely get anytime to myself to just think and listen to my favourite music. Thinking is a part of the writing process, I would say. Sometimes, I have to think and plan out an essay in my head for months, even though the actual writing itself only takes a few days. My favourite part is the walk across the Granville Street Bridge. The view there is never the same, for it changes every time you are there, depending on the weather and time of day. On some mornings, you can catch flocks of crows making their way over.
I don’t spend very much time writing in my room, but sometimes when I am overwhelmed, I like to hide and write inside the makeshift hideout that I have converted my closet into. I do like certain aspects of my room though, like my bookshelf. I have four of them downstairs, but the smaller one in my room is where I keep all of my favourite books—ones that I keep going back to, over and over again. All of my TNQ issues are kept there, along with the works of my favourites poets and authors. Many of them are local, and I have had the pleasure of meeting them personally. That is why I find it comforting to have their words close to me when I’m sleeping. It is also motivating to have the works of so many great people all stored in one place.
We’re giving you a behind-the-scenes look into the writing process – straight from the desks (and decks, docks, beds, and favourite hiking trails) of our contributors! Check out the full series here.