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June 2: Where we write

June 3, 2015


I’m addressing my own questions for this week out of order today–for a good reason.  I’ve been on the road for the last week, visiting family in Alabama with my Nashville grandchildren in tow.  As long as I have my laptop along, I can usually find time to write, but I become aware of how much difference it makes to have an optimum setting.

I visited Jackson, Mississippi, in February and saw the room where Eudora Welty, one of my literary heroes, wrote.  The sight of her books still stacked everywhere made me feel right at home.

In Write Your Heart Out, McClanahan mentions photographer Jill Krementz’s book The Writer’s Desk.  Just browsing the pictures I could find on line made me want the book.  Likewise, Lenoir-Rhyne University, located here in Hickory, NC, published a lovely book What Writers Do, to mark the twentieth anniversary of their exemplary Visiting Writers Series. Along with works by the powerful panel of writers who have appeared in their on-going series, the book includes photographs of writers’ work spaces.  There is no common denominator.

My ideal setting varies.  When I need to meet deadlines–mine or someone else’s–I have to get to neutral territory.  Copperbean or Taste Full Beans, two local coffee shops, are my favorite spots to settle in and write or revise.  Most days, though, I’m settled onto my sofa with the laptop balanced on my lap, clicking away and ignoring the television. I do jump up to move clothes to the dryer or to answer the phone (always a telemarketer). I might snap a picture of my own work space. I invite you to do the same.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. June 3, 2015 1:52 pm

    Once again, you have inspired me! My office is a mess, so I seldom write there. Your space and mine are very similar . . . comfy recliner and lots of interruptions. Just ordered The Writer’s Desk and can’t wait to get it!

  2. Kathy Owen permalink
    June 4, 2015 3:57 am

    You’re right, Sandy, the DESK in the OFFICE is too cluttered with bills and business correspondence and old photos and coupons … I can never relax there because it represents a place to work. Best spot for me to write is on the sofa, laptop on lap, dogs snoring nearby, and the Gulf view right in front of me. But I do like it quiet. Ahhhhh…..

    • June 4, 2015 3:24 pm

      You and I have always been kindred spirits, Kathy! So glad to read your comment. Are you going to post here what you write? You may, you know . . . but you don’t HAVE to. What I wrote yesterday isn’t good enough for anyone to read. Really tacky. As Shirley Clark used to say . . . HIGH tacky!

    • June 4, 2015 4:51 pm

      Kathy, I’m so glad you’re here. I agree that a water view helps inspire me. Mine isn’t the Gulf; it’s Lake Hickory, but so soothing! I look forward to your future posts.

  3. June 5, 2015 3:23 am

    Week 1 — Part 4

    Where You’ll Find Me

    Let’s get one thing straight right from the beginning: I never write by hand if I can help it. I say that most definitely. Even before computers came into my life, I preferred to type than to write with a pen or pencil. So, as my mother-in-law used to say . . . there you have it. No pencils or pens for me, at least not for serious writing. Don’t get me wrong. I absolutely LOVE writing utensils. I have a gazillion pens of different colors and kinds in my messy little office, but I seldom use them for more than taking a few notes about what teachers are wanting me to do in sales presentations.

    And speaking of my messy little office . . . I live there only for webinars. I just can’t get it cleaned up to stay that way. I get everything in some semblance of order, but in a day or two, it looks just like it did when I began my project, determined that the mess would never return. You may be envisioning a messy desk, but the floor, too, is littered. Whereas the desk might have papers, notepads, journals, etc., on it, the floor has, all around my chair, the textbooks that I’ve been using in webinars – Journeys, World History: Patterns of Interaction, The Americans, World Geography, Collections, HMD Literature.

    I have a Frank and Ernest cartoon over my desk. One of the men is saying to the other, “My motto is ‘A place for everything, and everything all over the place.’” I could have written that about my office if I had been so creative! I also have a neat little saying framed and sitting right where I can see it in my office. It reads, “Those who are so proud of an orderly desk will never know the thrill of finding something they thought had been lost forever!” Amen to that. Once when I cleaned my desk, I found a $100 American Express Gift Card. And it wasn’t expired! Maybe a messy desk and office aren’t so bad after all.

    So, if I don’t write in my office, where do I write? I’d love to say that my husband has built the casita that I’ve asked for ever since we moved to New Mexico, a little cabin where I can be alone to write, not to be disturbed by anyone. Just a place to write to my heart’s content. But I’ve given up on that idea. As Jay used to say, “Ain’t gonna happ’n, Cap’n!”

    I used to be able to go to a coffee shop, Java Joe’s, in Santa Fe when Frank was at deacons’ meeting before church one Sunday a month. But now we go to our little church in Cerrillos, not in Santa Fe. Gone are the few days when I could sit in my own little world surrounded by people who didn’t know me and didn’t bother me. I really did get a lot of writing done on those Sundays.

    If I don’t have a casita and if I can’t drive 25 miles to Santa Fe, just to sit in a coffee shop to write, where do I write? Right here where I am now . . . on the love seat in our family room, with my feet propped up. The love seat is actually two recliners. I love sitting here. It’s comfy and sometimes private. Frank works outside a lot during the day, so I can be by myself. Sometimes the TV is on, and I look from my computer screen to the TV screen if something interesting is on. I’m pretty good at multi-tasking! I do like privacy when I’m writing, but that doesn’t always happen. For instance, right now, the TV is blaring with some kind of music show featuring different artists, and Frank is sitting on the sofa petting two dogs, and I’m required by those same dogs to stop every once in a while to scratch behind ears or to tell them what good boys they are. Do I get much done? Sometimes. Sometimes not.

    Let me tell you, though, about where I was when I wrote a very important book almost four years ago. One day in the spring of 2011, I was trying to think of what I could get Frank for our 50th anniversary. I pondered for a while, then came up with the winning idea . . . I’d write a book for him, a book that chronicled our 50 years together. And so I began. I wrote the first words sitting right where I am now with Frank about four feet away from me at his place on the “recliner” couch, where he sits to watch TV. Honestly, from April to July, I wrote almost every night, and he never knew what I was doing, never even asked. You see, he thinks that if I’m on the computer after I finish working for the day, I’m either writing emails or playing around on Facebook. Never even asked! Then during almost the whole month of August, I sat in the rider’s seat of his truck and wrote all the way to Bremerton, WA, and back. He couldn’t believe it when I explained all of this on December 17, 2011, at our 50th Anniversary Party and presented him with a lovely book called Married to My Hero, which our daughter had formatted and published for me. He was speechless, and I didn’t even have to read it to him or ask him to be sure to read it. I believe that he read every word before he went to sleep that night!

  4. June 6, 2015 1:23 pm

    I love your book idea, and funny enough before I read this part of the post I had actually been considering doing the same thing for Dick. I made a “two of” a few years ago for my dad, including poems about family stories, along with the photographs than inspired them.

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