This week’s topic is “Location, location, location — Where we write and why there?” The Debs will share photos of our workspaces or favorite space to write, and talk about how our choice of physical location influences our work.
When I was young, my mom gave me her beautiful pink Olympia typewriter (which I later learned that my parents sold in a garage sale and I was heartbroken). For some reason, she only had an italic type ball for it so every story I typed in my youth and in my early high school years was in italics. I still have some of those typewritten pages stored away in the attic. I loved that thing but it was pretty stationary. Lugging it around was definitely not fun.
We’ve come a long way from the days of the heavy clunky typewriters of the days of yore. We can be anywhere and write whether it’s on the back porch, a coffee shop, the beach, a plane or a train.
For the most part, I’m the type of person who can write anywhere if I need to–being in the right frame of mind is the harder thing for me. When I write at home I have two places where I may decide to write, one inside and one outside. In summer weather I like our back balcony which has no real great view except that of our neighbors’ yards but it’s surrounded by trees and singing birds and the laughter of the neighbor kids. I’ll take the Bose portable speaker out there for tunes and spend the afternoon with a glass of wine and my laptop.
On days when it is cold or rainy, I write in my little office which my husband and I call the “fireplace room.” It’s a strange, small, rectangular room that holds two bookshelves, my favorite wooden desk that I bought when I first moved to New England twenty years ago and a big comfy red chair with huge arms that I can plop down in to write easily if I so desire. The best part about that room, as you could probably guess, is the fireplace. It doesn’t really warm much of the house up except that room, but it has lovely ambiance. During the holiday season when we have our annual xmas party that’s a favorite spot for people to hang out, drink eggnog and catch up. It’s really the only time of the year that anyone spends time in that room besides me. The view from the desk is nothing of interest, just the yard on the side of our house, and that’s probably a good thing to keep me from less distraction. It’s my favorite spot in the winter. Warm, cozy, and my cats love to jump up and help, as you can see Nero doing in the picture here when I was working on my edits for FEAST OF SORROW last weekend.
Every once in awhile I do get the urge to go somewhere where I won’t have the distraction of husband, cats and things around the house. I wrote big chunks of FEAST in Algiers, a Harvard Square coffeehouse landmark that makes amazing mint coffee and they let you sit there for hours, a rarity these days. The Cambridge and Belmont Public Libraries have also seen their fair share of me for both research and writing. Sometimes I really like the ambiance of being in a coffeehouse but can’t actually be in one, so when that happens I turn to Coffitivity which plays coffeehouse noises as background! I can even play music while it runs. There is something to be said for having a little bit of distraction to spur creativity and it really does work.
One of my favorite places to write, however, is the house in Maine my writing group, the Salt + Radish Writers, rents for four days every summer. We have a schedule that gives us approximately eight hours of writing time every day. We choose where to write and I always stay in the room where I sleep which has this beautiful view of the sea and a cute little writing desk. I knew it was the right spot to be when I saw that there was an old 1930s National Geo – encyclopedia style book about ancient Rome sitting on the top shelf. This summer I wrote a lot of my second book, THE SECRET CHEF, at that very spot, but much of FEAST was written there in previous years.
My dream spot to write? A corner library in a big house that I own, somewhere in the future, with a sweeping view of one of two things, either the ocean or a bustling part of Rome, where my heart is. Maybe I’ll win the runaway bestselling book lottery and can have both?