the nomadic writer

writing nook in progress?

Eizabeth has answered the question, “What do you need to be able to write?” She has answered this question by describing the space in which she writes–a space that is an answer to the question in and of itself. Elizabeth has a dedicated writing desk, and while she describes her desk as being “almost always a mess,” it looks very beautiful to me. The wealth of writing tools and memorabilia on and around her desk make it clear that she USES this space to its utmost.

Her post is a wake up call to me. I need to find my writing place.

The last time I sat at a desk day after day (with the intent) to write was at a writing colony last summer. But there was something missing in that environment, because I failed to write. I failed so miserably in my writing quest that I spent the larger part of my time there crying (until I made friends with a new wonderful arrival Randa) in my cabin, wailing to the squirrels and owls and generations of rabbits hopping in the meadow outside.

I asked the question, “What do I need to be able to write?” everyday while there.

I came home and looked for a place to write, and for the things I needed to be able to write. This, I discussed with friends like Susan, who had found a writing nook in the school library–in one of the carrels, where she invited me to join her. I found great productivity in those carrels. There, I wrote with great satisfaction with just my laptop, a nalgene of hot herbal tea, some snacks, and my iPod.

But I stopped going once winter vacation disrupted the library’s hours. Then after that, my stroke happened. Then after that, my mother-in-law died.

Now I am getting my bearings back, and finding a place to land again. I am literally circling the grounds–writing on my laptop in the den (where of all horrors, I sit and type in front of the television) and writing on the table in my dining room. It is a restless process, one I find too lonely and one where I am easily distracted by lovely things like my dogs.

What do I need to be able to write?

My implements include: my lovely laptop. my iPod. often, a cup of Mariage Freres tea. maybe a piece of toast or a bowl of crackers or chips.

That’s all I need, in terms of tools.

But I think there is another element to the magic–something to stimulate my psyche yet sequester me from distractions. Sometimes I wonder how I get any writing done at all, given my nomadic nature as a writer. I like writing in cafes, I like writing in the school library, and I love writing with a writing companion in all sorts of settings. I like writing in my dining room, which feels like the center of my home. I wonder if the common denominator is that I like writing in the company of people or in some crux of social interaction. Maybe there is a magic energy to human beings that strikes me as a writer.

I’m trying to figure out what that common denominator might be. I’ll get back to you once I figure it out.

For now, I have my eye in a writing nook here at home. Upstairs is a guest room that is rarely used, and in recent months I bought a desk just for the purpose of writing. I put it in front of the window, with the expectation that I sit there writing and staring out into the street. It is a north-facing room, my favorite direction of all, and I wonder if this is the place that I will find some great writing and stories.



Filed under Writing

6 responses to “the nomadic writer

  1. Come back to the carrels! I’ll meet you there.

  2. Really? That would be awesome!

  3. w

    What a gorgeous, gorgeous desk. I love that deliciously round curve. And the lamp complements it perfectly. I hope you’ll find your common denominator there; it looks like such a magical spot.

  4. yeah, her post kind of got me thinking too. i don’t like writing in social settings since i find them too distracting or i feel self conscious about people looking over my shoulder and so forth. though one of the most productive sessions i’ve ever had was on a plane trip to japan, something about knowing my battery was doomed to run out soon and not having anything else to do.

    anyway, i realized i really have few needs. i really just need a laptop. i’ve written just about everywhere–in the car before class, at the beach, in the bathroom (okay, i probably didn’t need to tell you that). but having a comfortable, safe environment to write i’m beginning to think is essential, if only to keep all your notes handy. otherwise, i have to put in filler spots or make stuff up on the fly, which i have to later fix. though sometimes good stuff comes out of that.

    i used to write in front of the tele too, until i realized i was about a third as productive as usual, and the stuff i came up with was crap. now i don’t even listen to music, and i try to unplug myself from the internet.

  5. Tea

    I discovered that I need some sort of a view to be able to write. It doesn’t need to be grand, but I have to be able to look out into middle distance. I tried writing in a converted attic (skylights but no windows) and it nearly drove me crazy.

    One of my favorite places to write is at the UCSF library, up the hill from me. From there you can see over the Sunset Dist and all the way to the beach. It’s quiet, open until midnight during the week, and there are always a few nerdy med school students studying, so I never feel like a loser for doing work on an evening/weekend. Also, I cannot connect to their internet system, which means I am far more productive there than anywhere else:-)

  6. leonessa

    I like those carrels, especially upstairs looking out at the redwoods. I haven’t seen you around, Susan, are you really in your regular spot?

    I also like to write in bed. I do some of my best writing in bed. This doesn’t seem very efficient or grown-up, but I don’t think I’m alone. I have a little, crowded desk in the bedroom facing the garden, but I never write there. I write in bed.

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