Tuesday, February 3, 2015

A Room with a View


So, I am sitting here on an overcast day. The sky is white, and the sea is a different shade of white. I’ve always had fantasies of sitting by a window writing and looking at the ocean, and now here I am. Is it as wonderful as I imagined? Oh yes. Even better.

I have many writing fantasies, but none include a computer or even a typewriter. Perhaps, the warp and woof of my dreamscape is a product of my place in time. The electric typewriter was invented in my lifetime. The widespread use of the personal computer didn't happen until after I was out of law school.

When I imagine myself writing, I am doing it on smooth paper with an expensive fountain pen, yet I have never been able to write even so much as a short story that way. I typed even my first terrible attempts at fiction.  

Jane Austen wrote on a small table in the corner and hid her work when anyone came in. Edith Wharton wrote every morning on lap desk in bed. She tossed her drafts onto the floor for her servants to collect. The prolific Anthony Trollope wrote on a desk he contrived to use on the train. All of these rituals appeal to me more than sitting behind a computer screen. Computers no longer make much noise, but the pure sound of a pen scratching a page has nothing click-clacky about it.

When I edit, either my work or other people’s, I come up with different comments depending on whether I’m using track changes or a pen. So, the question is: does our equipment affect our thoughts? I am writing this on a computer. I write almost everything on a computer, but I still dream of pen and paper. A pen never talks back or changes a word without your knowledge. A pen doesn't encourage me to roam the wilds of the Internet or check my email. And, as for editing, I cannot see the same things on the computer that I see on the page. Maybe, my eyes just get fed up with the screen, and want to range over a piece of paper and see white space.


There are those writers who claim that they need to sit in a basement and stare at a wall, that a view distracts them. I am not one of those. I think I have always been searching for an ideal writing situation: a Motel 6 off the highway, a generic room in a Las Vegas hotel, a cabin on the coast, a desk under the eaves of a barn in Vermont, a guesthouse in Montana. I think I should be able to settle down anywhere to write – no excuses, but my imagination is a wanderer. When I was a child, I wrote on blocks of colored paper. I wrote my published novel on a laptop at a desk in my living room while staring at the wall. I still don’t know what is the best writing process for me, but I have learned that having an office to come to every day enhances both my mood and productivity. So, a big thank you to the Artist in Residency Program. Check out the opportunities on the website.

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