Monday, March 1, 2010

Writing Space

What do you have in your writing space?

I haven't posted anything in a while because we've been in the midst of some renovations. My 'office' is now in my daughter's old bedroom, along with bookshelves, toys, and a million other things crammed in boxes and stacked all around the rooms. Many of my creature comforts and inspirational aids are in boxes in the corner. I'm not intending on keeping this as my office space--it's only temporary while we're putting new flooring and walls in the back room.

Hopefully, it will be nice and I'll have a lovely writing nook when we're done, but it's taking a long time to make happen. So many major changes going on at once. Writing time has warped into demolition time. I'm not crazy about the switch. Demolition has been hard work. Writing does not give me splinters.

When I moved my desk in here, I thought I wouldn't be here long. So why should I bother unpacking all of this extra stuff? (And believe me, there was plenty of extra stuff! Inspirational poems, pictures, quotes, books, cds, computer parts, and more.) Now, I have writing books accessible (but not unpacked). I have only two items in the space where I write: a bell that one of my advisors gave me and my MFA hood. Though I feel silly putting it on when I'm writing, the hood helps to remind me that I put in a lot of time and effort to get a degree in creative writing. I really should be writing!

I have some practical items here too: a clock, a dry-erase boards for notes to myself, a clock, a cup of pens. I still have a cat on my lap every evening while I write, and one who sometimes sits on the desk and watches me. If you've seen my website (, you have an idea of what my desk looks like--coffee stains and all.

Okay, PLB, what's the point of this blog? I'm not writing aimlessly here--I'm writing to make a point. I used to think that I needed all of this writing paraphenalia around me to inspire me, to put me in the mood, to make me want to write. I needed music and tea, reminders and craft books and notebooks... all of my notes from my semesters at Vermont College... scores of books written by my friends and advisors and esteemed authors that I met at conferences. I must have had a dozen quotes from writers about writing posted on the wall by the desk. I had a mindset that I needed these things, all to motivate me and remind me that I am a writer.

Now, I have none of that. There's only one, hand-written quote on my marker board. It's not a famous quote (though the writer is well-known), but it was said to me at a conference directly in regard to one of my stories. Jane Yolen said to me, "Finish!" And that's what I have to remember every day. I need to finish that story and all of the stories that I've started.

I need nothing in my writing space. I don't need to consult craft books or notes. I don't need quotes to inspire me. I need to show up and write.

When you sit down to write, what do you need to have around you? Do you have music playing, or the TV on? Do you have a bright light, or a soft one? Do you use your laptop, and move around to different places? Or do you sit at your desk, day after day, turning your words into stories?

You don't need to have anything with you or around you to write. You need to show up to your computer or your journal every day, and the only thing you need to bring is your imagination. (And maybe a pen.)

If you think about it, the concept of "space" is infinite. There are countless possibilities of what's in space. If you think again, you'll see that writing offers you the same number of countless possibilities. So, "writing space" really offers you countless possibilities, times two.

You just have to show up, and write.



Katia Raina said...

The concept of words in space . . . wow! Hi Patti, thanks for sharing what your office looks like. I can just picture everything. My desk is lined with good-luck trinkets. An erase board with quotes. My kids' little gifts, their two pumpkins they made at school... Too many pictures from my daughter, which I don't have the heart to pack away . . . My son's painting on creativity . . . Even a stupid fortune cookie thing that says, "working hard will make you live a happy life." You're right though, we don't need any of it. Just words in space! :)

Anonymous said...

I searched for something completely different, but found your website! And have to say thanks. Nice read. Will come back.

Patti L Brown said...

Awesome! Thanks!