There’s a recent trend in the literary blogosphere toward examining the workspace of writers. I wrote this piece in response to a project CutBank started on their blog called “The Woodshop.” I submitted but no dice, so I thought I’d post it here. Take a look at the other workspaces on CutBank’s site. Interesting stuff.
Where do you do your work?
I work in the large closet of my guest bedroom. It has a sloped ceiling, white walls, and bare wood floors painted black. All the paint in the room is chipped. The previous owners used this closet as a play area for their two young daughters, so there are remnants of wax crayon on the walls. They also installed a large piece of particleboard that shelved toys and a small TV. This board now serves as my desk.
What do you keep on your desk?
A framed photograph of Elizabeth Bishop sits on my desk. She is my touchstone, and I often pull out her collected works when I am stuck on a poem. I also have an apothecary jar full of “found” objects. My husband calls it my “curiosity jar” and its contents are comprised of seedpods, various bird feathers, stones, leaves and a sun-bleached jaw bone of some unidentified animal found discarded by the side of the road. There is a wireless printer, a ceramic vase full of gel pens and Black Warrior pencils, and often a glass jar full of whatever flowers I’ve collected from my garden. Right now? Zinnias.
What’s your view like?
Directly above my desk, I see nothing but an empty, white, sloping wall. However, to the right there is a small latched window and while I work, I keep that window open, no matter the season. I like the fresh air.
What do you eat/drink while working?
I prefer hot drinks while writing. Even in summer, there is hot tea or coffee in my cup. If it is tea, it always something fruity: lemon, peach, pomegranate or blueberry. I steep the tea bag for several minutes watching the water turn pink, green or deep purple. If it is coffee, it is brewed from my favorite beans from the local food co-op.
Do you have any superstitions about your writing?
I always write out my first drafts by hand. I like the physical motion of writing. There is something familiar and comforting in the action. I am also slightly wary of technology.
Share a recent line/sentence written in this space.
In a letter I wrote to Virginia Woolf after re-reading A Room of One’s Own: “Love even in despair. You taught me that.”