Tuesday, October 02, 2012

A Place to Write

I like our house. I do. But there's no Heather Room in our house. We've got three bedrooms, four bodies. That means all of our space is taken for people's beds. When E was in law school, we moved the monkeys into one room, into bunk beds. That worked well and he had a quiet space to study, but they outgrew their fascination with sharing a room. As much as they like to have "sleepovers" in each other's rooms on weekends, I think that Roo, especially, needs her space.

I understand that. I don't think I ever thought so much about needing space to myself as I have since I started my MFA program. I was writing before, but not usually in long chunks of time and not usually with any degree of regularity. I can bust out a blog post on the couch or on my bed, but when it comes to summoning the motivation to stick with a piece of writing for more than an hour, I can't do it in a place that's distracting or too comfy. So the couch is out and the bed is out.

I wish I had a door I could close. And a big room with a window and a comfortable (enough) chair. And a writing surface. And a stereo. But that's not reality right now. And thanks to the housing market we need to live here for approximately 472 more years before our house will be worth what we owe on it.

Most of my writing gets done at the Starbucks on the corner near our house, but it has proved to be less reliable lately in terms of atmosphere. I can pop in my headphones and my cinematic scores and block out the buzz of conversation and the whir of the coffee grinder. I can usually score the corner booth with two tables and enough room to spread out. But (and I am sorry, because I know this makes me a total jerk for actually writing it) there's a really SMELLY guy who has also decided that the Sbux is his personal office. He's been there ALL THE TIME LATELY. And I just can't take it anymore. If coffee won't negate your smell, Dude, nothing will.

I feel the most inspired to write when I'm outside, anyway. Even at school, I frequently find myself wishing there was an outdoor area for teachers to sit and eat lunch or grade papers, or whatever. I know if there was such a thing I would end up sitting there to read or grade. I just love to be outside... for me that's the best mix of distraction and silence. So I've been thinking a lot about somewhere I might go that has a nice patio... a coffee shop, perhaps, with a view? But I haven't found it yet.

UntitledFinally writing something. Sitting on Gram's porch swing...

It was time for a change. I tried a new spot this weekend. Or more accurately, and old familiar spot for a new purpose. I set up shop on the porch swing at Gram and Grandpa's house on Sunday morning. Their yard is beautiful. And they have snacks. I decided to unplug, to write by hand as I tried in the late spring. It was actually a really good thing to do again. No distractions of Facebook or email or the ten billion other things I waste my time looking at on the interwebs. It's surprising how much you can write when you don't stop every five minutes to look at pictures of cats. The swing was lovely and the yard was quiet. The only problem was that since it's Grandma's house, it's perhaps a little too comfy. I found myself dreaming of the Nap Blankie after a while and thinking I might go into the house to get it.

Anyway, today I tried another new spot. A Panera that's farther away than the Starbucks, but I like what they have to offer in two categories: A) comfy chairs with little swingy circle table thingies, and B) bagels. So that worked well. The good chair has a view (albeit kind of a sad one) out the back door, so I get a little dose of light if I sit there, too.

Writing by hand makes me feel like Jane Austen. Well, a poor man's Jane Austen who has to listen to Pandora and be within reach of snack foods while she writes. Jane Austen, if she had Internet. And the good seat at Panera.

E's been working hard on our backyard and my hope is that once the patio cover is built, I can use that space for writing. I really hope. But for now the search continues.

Backyard progress.

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