I should never, ever bitch about my writing space; it’s off the hook. I have a private office in our house overlooking a beautiful lake that affords a decent (but not perfect) barrier between my terrorist children and my pain in the ass dogs. It’s warm, comfortable and should be very inspiring given the scenery and the fact quite a few literary greats have passed through this hamlet over the last century and a half. Sometimes when I look out my window I can see their spirits passing through and shaking their fingers at me “write, you lazy ass, write!” castigating my sorry butt as they fade off over the mountains.
But, that ain’t the case and it hasn’t been in the last few houses we’ve been in where I have had the luxury of carving out a nice lair for myself in which to create prose for the ages. There was the rooftop apartment in San Diego that commanded an incredible view over Balboa Park, downtown San Diego and the big bay. After that it was the first place in Vermont tucked into the woods on a hill nestled in between a grove of mature oak trees so far from the road the silence was deafening. Then it was the home of a published and well-known author Joseph Olshan. Besides the remnants of a successful author’s aura wafting about in the air, that place had two awesome spots in which to wax and record my twisted thoughts. And, then it came around to this place, by far the best in the lot.
While these seemingly perfect spots provide a great place for the business of my writing: planning, editing, social media marketing, the writing of this blog, etc. The meat of my work gets done where it has always gotten done – the saloon. I’ve written in these here electronic pages before about the lubrication that gets my mind chugging along, but I haven’t mentioned where it all happens. Possibly, I haven’t brought it up because I don’t want to give off the wrong impression that I hang out in bars for days at a time on a literary bender. That’s not the case at all, in fact, I only need a couple of hours to produce about four thousand words – maybe not good ones every single time, but usually something that with a little work can prove to be the better fruits of my labor.
I find the din of a bar to be comforting. It’s just the right amount of noise, especially right around Happy Hour. And, as aforementioned, the comfort and effect of a martini or two helps relax the mind into that place where the cerebral jackhammers find the terrain more pliable and loose. The atmosphere strips away the thoughts that muddy up the creative process as well as the empirical distractions of home. There are no children interrupting the creation of the best sentence you’ve ever written with a shrill screech, or the begging for yet another treat. No dogs are barking at phantom burglars or to go out and sully the neighbor’s lawn. You just have strangers who couldn’t give a rat’s ass about the geeky guy furiously tapping away at the keys of the Mac Air and occasionally tipping back the perennially present up glass at its loyal perch far enough away from the laptop so as to avert disaster. Of course, if you’re like me and have a regular watering hole, the staff learns your pattern and knows well enough when to interrupt and when to leave you the fuck alone. Not like home where as hard as one may strive to set up rules – they’re always broken. “Dad, I want milk.” “Dad, Mom yelled at me!” “Dad, when are you coming down!” “Jason, these fucking kids are driving me crazy!” Ruff! Ruff! Ruff! Let me out or I’ll pee on your loafers!
The point of this sprawling diatribe is that where you write is important and if you can choose the location you are way ahead of the game and on your way to creating your best work. I knew a guy once who wrote on a seesaw with loose-leaf paper and a Bic pen. Nora Roberts wrote at an abysmally small desk in her kitchen as she watched her small children (couldn’t imagine that). Wherever it is, your space is important. If I had started this career earlier in life when I could be out and away from home with wild abandon, I know I would have legions of books out there already. Doesn’t mean they would be good – but, they would be out there.
This post made me laugh for so many reasons. JK Rowling got the idea for a boy wizard on a train where as she says: “To my immense frustration, I didn’t have a pen that worked, and I was too shy to ask anybody if I could borrow one…
I did not have a functioning pen with me, but I do think that this was probably a good thing. I simply sat and thought, for four (delayed train) hours, while all the details bubbled up in my brain, and this scrawny, black-haired, bespectacled boy who didn’t know he was a wizard became more and more real to me.”
My own fantasy about the perfect writing spot is what Erica Barry (Diane Keaton) calls home in “Something’s Gotta Give.” Oh but to have the ocean muses dancing outside panoramic windows.
I’ve had the perfect spots all set up in various houses wherever I wrote…but all of that is useless if the fire isn’t there. When I was inspired to write my book, I wrote when I could find time and the ‘where’ didn’t matter. There were pages written on my tiny glass outdoor table. There were many nights, in Panera eating my favorite salad and more times than I can count, in bed with a lap table supporting my iPad(& Zagg keyboard).
The only thing those places had in common was my desire to write and it didn’t matter where.
I liked Colin Firth’s perch in Love Actually. And, Johnny Depp’s spot was pretty cool in Secret Garden, too.
I write in my room, mostly because it’s the only place in the house where I can be afforded even a tiny amount of peace. Even then, it usually doesn’t work out.
I used to live in San Diego on 6th Ave, not far from Balboa Park. I had rooftop access but my apartment was on the 3rd floor just below.
I don’t know that I could write in a bar because I have a tendency to overhear things so the temptation to distraction would be too great. My desk is under the eaves, if I need peace I put my headphones on. There must be a Gawd because the kids grew up!
Which building did you live in? I was in the big pink one – The Palomar. Small world.
I remember The Palomar! I lived in a tan stucco building with a red tile roof, I’ll have to look and see if I can find a photo on Google, most interesting. I must have something that has the address somewhere.
I know that building! I loved that neighborhood.
San Diego was so cool. You’re in VT now, I’m in New England too. I miss the temperate climate and the palm trees but the culture was very transient and I hated to see my friends move away. I was not especially fond of the associated superficiality that accompanies a society that is always moving on to the next best thing.
I agree. But I’ll tell ya; I miss that weather!
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I lived at 6th and Elm near the NW corner of Balboa Park a long time ago. The building is still there, still the same stucco color with the same red tiles.