Wednesday, January 17, 2007


What space do you take up when you write?

What is your physical space when you write? And, more importantly, what is your mental space?

I am capable of writing anywhere – trains, backstage with a bite light, in a restaurant, at the library.

I prefer to write at home. It’s not my ideal library space, but I‘ve got my computer desk (which usually looks like a filing cabinet threw up all over it) where I do computer work, and I have the kitchen table, where I write longhand. With cats rolling over the papers and stealing the pens.

It sounds like I couldn’t possibly get anything done in that environment, but I find feline interruptions helpful instead of harmful.

If it’s relatively quiet in the outside world, I might have the CD player on across the room, very low. If there’s repetitive machine noise , I use my Zen V.

If it’s quiet enough, I only have the fountain on and write to the sound of trickling water (I’m a Pisces, remember).

Color-wise, I prefer water tones or earth tones. I like the steady ticking of a clock (or clocks). Yet the sound of a metronome makes me want to scream. Go figure.

Wind chimes are fine. A car alarm is not.

Howling winds are inspiring. Although, when the lights flicker, I shut off the computer, put on the big candles, and write by candlelight in the kitchen.

In other words, I am extremely affected by sound.

Usually, when I start a creative writing session, I light a candle. I extinguish it when I’m done. Sometimes, I’ll burn incense or have the oil burner on with the essential oil of the moment wafting out.

I need that serenity in order to occupy the emotional landscape of whatever it is on which I’m working. A modern-day piece allows more distraction from the outside world; a created world needs more silence and more control of my physical environment in order to blossom.

It becomes almost an astral projection, if I get deep enough into the work. And it is sometimes difficult to return.

I revisit actual places I love or places that inspire me. I stretch geography – using real landmarks, but creating fictional towns near them, so I can arrange things the way I wish. I revisit the same themes over and over – the need for loyalty and the consequences of betrayal – but the physical landscape changes, and the physical landscape affects the emotional one.

My physical space and my mental space feed off each other.

So I’m working at cleaning up my desk. I already have some beautiful pieces on it, that mean something to me: Ganesh, angels, a laughing god, a crystal, a small frames picture of violets (the flower, not my cat), a replica of the Eiffel tower, a gargoyle, a drawing of Coventina-the-well-goddess, a silver fortune cookie that was a gift on the opening night of Flower Drum Song, a stuffed dragon. I’m trying to clear away the paperwork that piles up and keep it as more of a creativity altar than clutter carnage.

I want to support the mental space by enhancing my physical space.

What type of spaces do you inhabit when you work?


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