Saturday, February 26, 2005

Location, Location, Location

I spent a very pleasant couple of hours today in my study, reading and writing. The study is barely usable in the winter, as it's hardly insulated at all and has windows along two walls (high windows, wider than they are tall) -- so excavating the desk and starting to work in there again makes it feel like spring, even though it's incredibly cluttered in there. (Also a bit stinky, as there is a corner of carpet that various cats have decided to pee on over the years. Sigh.)

When I read at my desk in my study, I feel like I'm able to give the book a quality of attention that's difficult to find if I'm sitting in the living room, or at Panera or the Runcible Spoon or in the food court at work or any of the other places I often read. I think it's because the TV and the laptop -- my chief sources of distraction -- are far enough away to be a little bit "out of sight, out of mind." I don't think I necessarily write differently in my study than anywhere else, but giving someone else's poems my full attention almost always leads to writing, so I'm usually able to be fairly productive when I'm in that room.

When I took Cathy Bowman's class, I went to Panera at least once a week -- usually on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon -- and spent time reading and writing there. I still go there occasionally, every 2-3 weeks or so. I almost always sit in one of the tables right by the window, where I can look out at the sky and the parking lot. I watch the clouds, and the birds, and the people going in and out of Panera and Noodle Town next door. Another place I like to go for sitting & reading & writing is the Monroe County Public Library; when I go there, I almost always sit in the comfortable chairs in the corner of the building where the big windows are, overlooking the corner of Kirkwood and Grant. My study has windows too, as I've mentioned, and whenever I'm in there I find myself gazing out them a lot. It occurs to me that all of my favorite writing places have windows, and that looking out the window feels important to me in connection with writing -- being able to shift my focus, physically, from the nearness of the page to a more distant gaze.

Last time I was in Provincetown, I found myself drawn to a certain porch-type spot overlooking the town beach & the harbor; I'd sit there at a picnic table and write for a while most days. Although I was outside, I looked up from the page often and gazed out over the water at the harbor and the wharf. The shift in focus, again.

Where do you most like to write?


Charles said...

I used to be able to write anywhere, but it has become more difficult. I got a really large, beautiful desk for graduation, and now I sit at my office window looking out at some evergreens, a palm tree, and a juniper (?), and then the lazy residential street past that. It's nice.

jenni said...

I miss the Runcible spoon! I love that place. I used to go to Bears a lot too. Are you doing the workshop with Powell? I've been thinking about it...what about IU writer's conference? Next time I'm in town, we should meet at the spoon for coffee!


Anne said...

Charles, that sounds idyllic. Especially the palm tree (she says from cold, gray, wintry Indiana).

Jenni, someone swiped the fish from the bathtub in the bathroom at the Spoon a while back! It was in the paper and everything. Last I heard they didn't know whether they had been flushed or what. People are horrible sometimes. Anyway, I think I am indeed doing the Powell workshop in P-town and looking forward to it immensely. As for the IUWC, I can't possibly take off two full weeks in June, so I'm not going to do the conference -- but I will make it to at least some of the evening readings. Coffee at the Spoon, for sure -- just let me know when!