I am in the process of determining where I am likely to get the most writing done. As in physical space. I don't get an awful lot of writing done at home. The only time I did was when I was a child, and when I first moved to London and lived in a share house in Clapham, with a bunch of other Aussies and Kiwis. I had a gorgeous little white room with a mantlepiece, on which I lined up the precious handful of books I'd brought with me. I had 1960's movie posters and posters of art-deco liquor ads on the walls. I had a desk in the corner of the room, where I set up my now battered laptop (it had travelled over three continents with me at that point) and had posters and postcards from my travels everywhere. That room was my sanctuary.
I am trying to create a dedicated space to write at home, but it's tricky, as it is a small flat. I've been delving through my flat scrapbook for ideas, and also The Guardian's Writers Rooms series. Miranda Seymour's room is so luscious, with its four-poster bed and everything! My computer and desk is also set up in the bedroom, so I've been using this for ideas.
I also read something wonderful today - an interview over at dovegreyreader with Helen Garner - an Australian writer whose work I've always enjoyed, if felt a bit divided by at times. Helen was asked about where she writes, and she responded with the following words which evoked nothing but simple pure space in which to truly work:
It makes the rest of my life possible.
"I never understand how anyone can work at home. There are so many worthy displacement activities available. You put on a load of washing, which means that in half an hour you have to get up from the desk to hang it on the line. On the way along the hall you see dust and can’t go back to work till you’ve run the vacuum cleaner over the carpet. And there’s that packet of biscuits that will go stale if you don’t finish them today, etc. So I rent an office in an old building two suburbs away. I can pedal over there in about 20 minutes, or take the tram if I’m lazy. I try to get here by 10am. It’s a small, quite shabby room without a view. Table, chair, lamp, bookshelf, sky-blue filing cabinet. Computer, printer. No phone, no internet. Mat, pillow, cotton blanket for a nap after lunch. Jug to make me drink more water. A lot of pencils. A mechanical sharpener. Dictionary. Thesaurus. Scissors. Hand cream. No one else has ever come here and I hope no one ever will. Sometimes I go for months without working, and of course even when I don’t use the space I have to keep forking out the rent; but just thinking that the office exists makes the rest of my life possible."
I like that.
In the meantime, as I try and sort my space out, the library a mere set of footsteps from my front door is proving to be a place of productive solitude. Libraries usually are for me. I remember my first few weeks in London, spending every Saturday in the Victoria library, writing my play. I had no money after three months of travelling, so couldn't go and indulge in red velvet cupcakes and lattes in Ladbroke Grove. A blessing really. It was a wet summer, I remember, and not wanting to lose my space, I would sneak in lunch and hide it in the pocket of my laptop case, breaking off bits of bread when I thought no one was watching. When it was sunny, I would write in Hyde Park. A friend would sometimes meet up with me, and bring beer.
Soon after, once I had money, a job and a place to live (obtained in that order!), I discovered The British Library. All of a sudden, that was the place to be on Saturdays. I remember discovering a book there that I hadn't seen since I was a child in Hobart, in my friend's living room, the chipped bust of Nefertiti on her bookshelf smiling down on me. I remember almost crying with happiness, as it even had her signature in the front.
And of course, a lot of my writing here has been done in cafes. My local apostrophe, Opus when I lived in Clapham, the Poetry Cafe, the Camera Cafe, Nordic Bakery, to name but a few. There are few things that can induce me to write so well as cinnamon buns and good coffee. In my new neighbourhood I've now discovered a few more.
So perhaps I don't need to rush on the space of my own - as there are already so many spaces in this city that I consider mine anyway.
My last thought today - I'd like to thank the gorgeous Lori for my first ever blogging award:
This has truly made my day - thank you Lori! For those of you who don't know Lori and her work, head over and have a look - she's a truly inspiring lady, and writes so eloquently about her passions, the writing life, and more to the point, about living the best life you can. Reading her blog is like having a lovely soothing cup of chamomile tea - it tastes great and makes you feel good!
To share the love, I'd like to pass the award on to Red Bird, whose words make my soul soar. I've been enjoying her immensely and admire her talent greatly. The fact she loves Frida Kahlo as much as me seals the deal!
Now I must see if I can cast a spell for good weather on my birthday next week. I do not fancy having cakes and champagne in the park, in the rain. Birthday fairies, work your magic please.