At the recent residency, there was a discussion about creating one’s writing space. This includes not only a desk with a computer but space on the time continuum. A panel of professors discussed their writing habits. One has an office above the garage while another shares a long hand-crafted desk with her husband, a journalist. One sets a schedule as if he is working a traditional job, taking lunch and working until four in the afternoon. Another writes in the evening, once she’s finished everything else that needs tending to.
Last year, I formally created a writing space in my one-bedroom apartment. I toured home stores in search of a desk that could double as a dining table. In the aisle at Ikea, I tested out chairs to make sure they provided adequate lumbar support. I lined the back wall with low bookshelves and filled them with everything I’d read thus far for school. On top I placed two tall lamps, the soft glow warming the space. Three framed photographs, pictures taken while exploring Guatemala, were set leaning against the wall.
The next step was reviewing my calendar and carving out some regular writing time. After struggling and fighting such structure, structure that I feared would alter my writing process, I caved. A few times a month I block an entire weekend. From Friday night until Sunday night, I hibernate from friends and family.
“How’d the writing go last night?” Leslie, my sister, asked Saturday morning.
“It didn’t. Instead I watched back-to-back episodes of What Not To Wear. But hey, I thought about writing. I thought so hard my brain hurt. That counts, right?”
“Sure. What were you thinking about?”
I proceeded to discuss my project. I talked about the goal of writing a collection of linked short stories. There’s a main character that appears in all of them but she isn’t necessarily integral to every plot. “Sometimes she’s just a walk-on character,” I continued before stating that each story should be able to stand on its own, though equally contribute to telling a larger story when combined with the others. I have five stories written and hope to have between eight and ten by June.
“So I’ve decided who will tell the next three stories. Now I need to come up with three plots,” I said.
“Wow, my brain hurts just listening to you.”
After hanging up the phone, I poured a tall glass of Crystal Light, sat down at my desk, loaded a blank page and started writing. I took breaks, leaving my desk to nap and leaving my apartment to eat. And come Sunday night I had ten pages written. But when the weekend came to an end, it wasn’t like I stopped working. While rinsing conditioner from my hair Monday morning, I thought about introducing a secondary plot twist. As I sat in traffic Tuesday night, I pondered ways to further develop a character. So while I may write at my desk, that cozy nook anchoring the writing process, I guess you could say I’m always in a writing space.