Saturday, September 6, 2008

What Makes a Writer's Writing Space Work

As far as I can tell there are two distinct camps when it comes to a writer's writing space.

Camp #1 believes in beauty, comfort, and a view.

Camp #2 believes in utilitarian efficiency and a brick wall.

Okay, I'll admit I'm simplifying a wee bit but you get the idea. Some writers are inspired by gazing out at the rolling vistas and natural wonders outside their window. Some writers (and I suspect I might be one of them) wouldn't write a word if they had--oh, let's say Mount Rainier to look at every day. (You really must check out Susan Wiggs's blog The View From Here. Great blog and boy, does she have a view to die for!) That's why I tend to keep the shades down and the curtains drawn when I'm deep into a book. I imagine it must look pretty weird to neighbors passing by but it works for me. Otherwise I'd be daydreaming at the window, watching the cardinals and goldfinches at the bird feeders, the multiple generations of rabbits in our yard, the squirrels, and the occasional groundhog family sunning itself on our deck.

Neil Simon is a brick wall kind of writer. At least when he wasn't writing in New York City. Turn your back to the world and dive inward. Which is great as long as the pool is filled with deep water. It's when that pool of words and ideas runs dry that a writer runs into problems.

It's a constant battle: the intense need for long stretches of isolation and quiet, followed by the urgent need for movement and excitement. I'm over twenty-five years into this career and I still haven't managed to figure out the balance.

Then again maybe the balance can't be understood. Maybe it changes every day, every minute, and it's a lucky writer who somehow manages to keep that pool filled to the brim.

And a quote from Neil Simon:

“Don't listen to those who say, you taking too big a chance. Michelangelo would have painted the Sistine floor, and it would surely be rubbed out by today. Most important, don't listen when the little voice of fear inside you rears its ugly head and says. they all smarter than you out there. They're more talented, they're taller, blonder, prettier, luckier, and they have connections. I firmly believe that if you follow a path that interests you, not to the exclusion of love, sensitivity, and cooperation with others, but with the strength of conviction that you can move others by your own efforts, and do not make success or failure the criteria by which you live, the chances are you'll be a person worthy of your own respects.”

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