Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Create Your Writing Space - Part 1

I moved on June 26. The last time I moved was nine years ago, so you can imagine how much stuff I had to pack—countless books in seven or eight bookcases plus my 8'x10' demountable wall unit, my collection of 312 witches, furniture, clothes, more tchotchkes than I care to count, the whole kitchen, all the art I hang on my walls. Facing all that packing, I fell into a funk. Well, gee, I moaned, I’m an author and editor—I don’t do physical labor. I called the moving company, the guys moved me, we got my computer hooked up, got my cable TV hooked up, got my all-region DVD player hooked up, got the cats settled, more or less. (Let me give public thanks to my son and daughter-in-law for their help, too.) But then they left me alone in my new apartment. Everything I owned was in boxes. Lots and lots and lots of boxes. I had mountain ranges of big boxes full of books in the living room. Piled three high. One of my cats turned into a mountain goat. (The other cat took up residence on my bed for three days until she discovered her favorite fuzzy blanket on her favorite chair.) I had to dodge boxes when I wanted to get into the bathroom. The boxes in the bedroom blocked the windows and the closet.

I unpacked the last box on July 31. As my son remarked, it took me three weeks longer to unpack than it had taken to pack. Well, that was because I had to figure out where to put every tchotchke, every book, every dish, every DVD, every piece of art. Not to mention my underwear, the cats’ food, and my toothbrush and my microwave.

But the main reason unpacking took so long—aha! Now I’m getting to the point of this blog—is that I couldn’t just stop working while I was unpacking. I had to build myself a new working space, an immediate oasis (to mix a metaphor) in the mountain range of boxes. Where I used to live, I looked out the window to my left on a dusty concrete patio and wall. One of my new neighbors there had begun letting her dog do its business on the patio, and people were stealing the potted plants. (To learn more about why I moved, see my June blog on my website. ) Where I live now, I’m on the second floor and I look up from my monitor directly into the branches of a lovely green tree. (But don’t ask me what kind of tree it is.)

Although it’s said that Shakespeare did his writing backstage or in the tavern, and Jane Austen is said to have written her novels at a table in the same room where her family was entertaining guests, and Ernest Hemmingway (for all I know) wrote in the bullring or the bar, ordinary writers like you and me need a clean, well-lighted space to work in. Writing is hard work. Don’t make it harder on yourself by trying to work where you can’t reach your dictionary when you need it, where it’s so noisy you can’t concentrate, or where you’re interrupted before you can get two consecutive sentences down.

Learn more about Barbara and the services she offers writers by visiting her site:

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