It’s not the space that counts, but the writer in that space

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Where do you write? Do you need to have a cup of tea on the desk and classical music to write? Perhaps you need Metallica in your headphones while sitting at the local coffee shop. Does it matter where you write as long as you’re writing?

That’s the big question here. Does it really matter? To some writers, it isn’t a big deal–Have laptop, will write. To others, everything has to be in order before any writing can be done. Which type are you? I have friends who are happy to set out to a coffee shop and type away on a laptop. They love the hustle of the environment, the voices in the background and the unending supply of coffee and muffins.

I know a writer who takes his laptop to a local resort and sets up in the lobby with a Scotch. He uses the WiFi and has a night out and gets a lot of writing done. Me? I think after a few Scotches I may need a ride home, and I don’t know what I would be writing by then. Hemingway I’m not.

When I read Stephen King’s On Writing, I was so impressed at how he described his first writing desk, shoved in a hallway with the washer/dryer. And this was a typewriter, not even a laptop. He wrote some of the best stories and books there, proving he certainly didn’t need an office, or even a room, to write.

But there is something to be said with being among your books and a familiar setting, behind a desk where you are comfortable, right? Virginia Woolf had a separate writing studio, as did Roald Dahl and many others. Virginia wrote about a woman having A Room of One’s Own.

When I think of all the things I need in my office such as the printer, printing paper, printer ink, laptop, extra monitor, heater, A/C, iPod speakers, etc., I become acutely aware of the sparseness of Thoreau’s little cabin with a bed, small table and tiny desk. Or even Virginia Woolf’s one big table with paper and pens strewn across it. For a glimpse at their spaces, as well as many other famous writers and their spaces, check out this Pinterest site, and this one with photos of famous writers’ studios.

For some writers, it’s not where they write, but how they write. Rituals abound like having a drink at hand, writing only in the morning, writing longhand on a yellow legal pad, etc. We all have our routines, and our needs, and they are all legitimate. I don’t have any routine or ritual, although I prefer to have music without words to distract me. I have a special iPod playlist titled “No Words” that I update occasionally. Joan Didion said she needed an hour before dinner each night, with a drink, to review what she’d written that day. (Perhaps the drink helped.) I may start this one, couldn’t hurt. Check these out for more famous writing routines.

I used to write while seated at an office armoire tucked in the corner of my bedroom. I could “close” my office at night and hide the mess. It was small, but it had everything I needed in one neat little package. Then my husband remodeled the small shed on our property (it was there when we moved in). He added wood floors and a bigger window with a view to the yard. I added a desk from craigslist, an air conditioner (a necessity in the desert), and a small heater for cold mornings. This is my perfect space, and it even has a small refrigerator with chocolate and a bottle of Scotch. I wrote about it when he began the remodel, here.

Where do you write? Whether you find a spot at the local bar, in your own corner of the house, or even a separate writing shed like Woolf or Dahl, it’s the writing that counts. I am always interested in how others write, and in what environments. These differ as much as the books written in them. So, I guess the bottom line is don’t wait for the perfect space, make your perfect space and get writing.

Taking Time Out to Celebrate

Just a bit of color

Just a bit of color

Where have I been? I took a break from writing, working, and even sleeping at times, to help a dear friend with her small, intimate, and lovely wedding recently.

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A beautiful entry to a wedding

I had great fun being creative and experimenting with all kinds of ideas, and dear Heather was a dream bride and basically approved just about everything I suggested. Ok, some ideas were out there, but creativity can be a strange bedfellow. Or is that politics? I can never remember.

I did suggest making a huge frame and using it as a photo booth of sorts (blame Pinterest, the mother of all time-sucks on the planet and a new passion of mine). She turned that idea down quickly, but then she said the one word that turned it all around — TARDIS. That led to asking the husband to create a 6′ TARDIS frame to be used at the wedding for a photo booth. Yeah, he did it, and he did an amazing job. The wedding party loved it and everyone had fun taking photos in there.

The Daughter contemplating a trip with The Doctor, fez and all.

The Daughter contemplating a trip with The Doctor, fez and all.

What I didn’t plan for was the fact that everything had to be transported to Tucson in my car for the ceremony. While I piled and stacked things on my dining-room table all month, and the pile spilled over onto the sofa, the stash for the back of the Tahoe began to grow. The back seats were removed, then the next row of seats were flattened. The TARDIS (in two pieces) was placed in first, then all the candles, ribbons, bows, glasses, drink dispensers, serving bowls, etc. On top of that, Daughter and I baked 300 gluten-free cookies a few days before the wedding, and ordered 12 dozen bags of gluten-free pita bread that the bride requested from a local bakery. Yeah, I went there and picked it up the night before the wedding. What else was there to do? Two teenagers and I squeezed into the car and took a 2-hour drive while listening to show tunes (OK, that was their idea and these kids are awesome but that’s another post.)

Just a few of the refreshing goodies that made the day special.

Just a few of the refreshing goodies that made the day special.

But the end result was worth all the effort. And on top of that, I did manage to squeeze in some work and a bit of writing on my own WIP in the midst of all the planning, which was quite satisfying.

Now that it’s over, it’s back to editing and writing, which is what I do best and what makes me happy. I’m so touched and glad that I took part in this wonderful celebration, and my days as a wedding planner are over. You can find me back in my chair, listening to Pavarotti and typing away. Right where I belong.