I write a lot.
Oh, I may not write here, but trust me, when I get into a groove I write like a hypergraphic squirrel on cocaine.
I generally don’t talk about writing. For me, it’s a lot like fight club. The first rule about write club is you don’t talk about writing. Most likely because I’m self-actualized enough to know that I’m hardly an expert at this, and I’m more likely to follow a plot bunny down a rabbit hole than steer someone in the right direction.
A friend’s tweet this past week made me think about how long I went on hiatus from writing fiction, and I figured it was about 18 years. 18 years, people!! That’s a lot of time! How does one go from daily manic scribblings to nothing? I wrote when all I had were lined paper in three-ring binders. My grandparents gave me one of those funky typewriters with a pre-correct window when I was a teen. My parents bought me a 3rd-hand 8086 computer that ran on DOS and 5.25″ floppies when I was in my early twenties — all because I would hog the “family” computer with my furious scenecrafting. How do you stop doing that?
It’s easy. You get laid off from your first creative job out of college and find work in the tech sector. It took 18 years of trying to be technical at both work and home before I realized that it was burning me out. Now work is for work, and home is for writing, piano, knitting, and drawing. Not necessarily in that order (though I do try to make my word count every day). Keeping those two things separate has really helped my mental health. Really.
The husbeast is also a writer. He insisted on having a space of his own since he’s easily distracted. The folks who owned the house before us had an office on the second floor and a craft room in the basement. We decided to keep the status quo, and he moved his writing gear into the office. He has a pretty nice view of the garden. We recently relocated a sofa from the living room to his writer’s den, so he now has a place where he can write and stretch out to read.
My ‘studio’, however is in the craft room in the basement. It’s dark, and chilly, and packed with everything that doesn’t have a place elsewhere. It’s less an office and more a hidey-hole. I have two old IKEA desks and one of the two original hutches for book storage. The attached magazine rack is great for filing temporary paperwork and things I’d like to have within reach. The attached whiteboard has a tendency to become non-erasable, so I use it just for magnetic reminders. There’s a repurposed armoire or pantry that was left with the house that serves as storage for art supplies and computer storage, and a tall plastic drawer pedestal full of skeins of yarn.
The room was originally intended to be a washroom. There’s a fixture for a toilet hidden under the far desk. I’d say that the basement was finished with the idea that it could eventually be turned into one-room flat. We’re more the single-family type, so for now it’s a rec room, yarn storage, and studio. My office is great for those middle-of-the-night writing sessions, but not so great on nice sunny days when there are green things budding on the trees. I’m pretty sure that when summer comes, I’ll be retreating to it just to get away from the inevitable repressive heatwave. I’ll slip down the stairs, slink into my office, turn on the lava lamp, and hide from the heat.
Today is not that day.
I camp out at the kitchen table on my laptop and watch the birds at the feeder while I write. There are green things starting to take over the trees, and plants in my window that catch the sun and shadows in interesting ways. I get to see the neighbour let her dog out into the backyard, and hear the folks next door playing loud music while they fire up the grill.
I get the bulk of my writing done in the evenings before work, so I move around between paragraphs, starting dinner and getting food on the table while mulling over the next scene that will take me from point A to point B. It’s a fairly zen method.
I also keep a few creative distractions lying around if I’m not fighting for space on the table. My knitting output has suffered greatly since I decided to shoot for a 1000-words-per-day goal. That doesn’t mean that I can’t do a couple of rows while I mull over the direction a scene is going. I’m also trying to clear my Goodreads queue, so I’m working through the books still on my current list. Every so often I get distracted by something like Hellboy or a new novel, but otherwise I’ve been doing well at sticking to my goals.
It makes me wonder, though…what do the creative spaces of other people look like? How do other people organize their craft? How does it fit into their lives?
If you have any answers, feel free to add them to the comments. I’d love to know 🙂