When I moved back to Kentucky I gave up the city life, moving six hours away from Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood and my local Starbucks to a land of green pastures, black barns, and large homes nestled against picturesque rolling hills. Gone is my tiny apartment that was not unlike Sandra Cisneros’s own small cramped place she details in The House on Mango Street. I have a bit more space now (a bedroom! an office! a regular sized bathroom!), and I have a view of the Bluegrass state replete with fruit trees, Angus cattle, and cornfields.
My desk stays pretty cluttered. But I know where everything is, so it doesn’t bother me. I keep paperclips and pushpins in glass mason jars (always have), and my pens and pencils go in a white plastic flower pot I bought at Ikea last year. The clunky printer is a necessity, as are the cards (and postcards) that remind me of the people I care about, the places I love, the places I want to go….
But what about the rest of the place? The walls and bookshelves? I’ll tell you this: the place is pretty much filled with books, posters (Chagall, Yann Tiersen), and CDs. I even have a small white sofa in here for when I need to read and relax. I have drawers full of old journals, poetry drafts, and photo albums. I love to come into a room brimming with colors, memories, and trinkets that get my mind moving faster and my heart beating a little quicker.
My laptop is all glitz and glam. I’ve always liked to embellish, make things shinier, make things look a little louder than maybe they should. I retired my old laptop in December 2010. My new laptop is a Sony Vaio (just like my old one), but this one had the option of a glitzy gold cover (which I HAD to have). I also bought a bright pink skin to go over the keyboard that I pretty much stay excited about. In this regard I think I’m a bit like Augusten Burroughs (remember how excited he got about sorta gaudy looking stuff in Running with Scissors and Dry?) Oh, and it is super fast compared to my old one. I love my laptop.
Inside the top drawer of my desk it’s fairly chaotic. There’s just all kinds of stuff in there: receipts for museums I went to in Mexico, slips of paper with quotes I like, post-it notepads, five forever stamps, lip balm, a bookmark from the Boulder Bookstore in Bouler Colorado, L’Occitane hand lotion I got for Christmas, some highlighters, a graphing calculator (wait, how did that get in there??).
I’m one of those writers who is pretty adaptable when it comes to where I work. I’m not really fussy about my environment. When I’m working on a novel I can work in a cafe or office–the only thing that’s essential is that I have my laptop and long stretches of time to work. I also write poetry and for poetry I have no set schedule (I am really into sticking with a routine when it comes to novels), but with poetry I tend to do my best work by simply paying attention to what I see and hear. Poetry always seems to find me, so rather than me trying to force the issue and Write A Poem, I never start working on a poem until I feel the need to; that is to say, I wait until I’m inspired by someth ing in the world. And that happens fairly often.
As you can tell, answering the question of where I write is a tricky thing to answer. I suppose I’m like most writers in that I usually have a notebook with me (something small) or a stack of post it notes lurking in the bottom of my bag. Sitting down at a desk is only half the battle for me. The other half is the daily duty of being attuned to the world and that means listening to dialogue, paying attention to the snatches of poetry that come to you in the most unpredictable ways, looking closely at the natural world, etc. To me, being keenly observant has always seemed like the most basic requirement for a writer.Therefore, the truth is, I write just about anywhere, but for me, sitting down at my desk, the desk that I’ve done so much writing at, the desk of so many battles (with myself and the page) feels like my real home.
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I think you and I are very much alike, Tasha! Nothing beats country life:) But I can’t write in public. I’m easily distracted. If someone opens the curtains in a room, I’m gone. I have to lock myself away in order to find my zone. You are so lucky!
What you say about being easily distracted made me think of this new software I’ve been using to help minimize distractions. The software is called Ommwriter. Have you heard of it? I’d be curious to know what you think. Basically it’s free software that creates a simple, calming background on your computer (so no more checking Facebook, no more amazon searches while I’m trying to focus and write…) Also, the software has some very calming music you can either use or not use.
You can read more here: http://www.ommwriter.com.
And here’s a really cool article about distraction-free writing tools–