|Andy Farmer - first day as a novelist had experienced his first writer's block|
Anyone who knows me and has visited my home, the first thing they ask me is ‘where do you write all the time’? They look around for an office or desk, puzzled. I don’t have a desk. As much time as I claim to spend writing, this surprises most people.
Let me clarify that statement. I do have a desk, but there’s not one in my home, nor do I have a private paid office somewhere. My office is where I can relax and get inspired, express that inspiration without distraction, and be free to reach and stay in that ‘zen’. My office is most often the great panoramic outdoors.
I envy those such as Jodi Picoult or Stephen King who have a particular place at home they can sit each day and type, or maybe write with a quill in a tiny Maine cabin like Henry Thoreau often did. Jane Austen could still pull it together amid family chaos, and actually thrived from it professionally.
Maybe someday I could if I had a place of my own big extra bedroom - or better yet - an airy loft or porch with open windows facing a broad view. That’s the only way I could ever do work at home. That’s a big maybe….
|I'd be okay with this desk in the Hamptons Beachside!|
Several spirited attempts were made at home but my senses, insight, ideas and story lines shattered as glass thrown against a brick wall if I sit facing one. Sometimes the wall and I just stared at each other. Or the clutter piles grow and creep along the floor to swallow me whole. Then the food beckons me for a bite, the washer buzzes to be emptied of clothes, and the bills scream to be paid.
That’s when I grab my bag, my keys, hiker boots, blanket, Snoopy doll, my warmies and I run out.
Weeks ago, as I walked along Atsion Lake in the Pinelands of New Jersey on a cold day, the sunlight sparkled on calm cedar water It warmed my face for a little while, as I watched some quails peck at the ground nearby. I felt welcomed here, as if the elements were glad to see me and promised to stir things up in my head. And just like any day I walked back to the car at the vacant cabin just itching to write.
|Atsion Lake, 2014 in the fall. Pinebarrens, NJ for an inspiring hike, picture by Janice M. Wilson|
Out of respect, I usually ‘unplug’ from society when I am in the finest of nature. Everything is perfect as it is – the trees and the ocean don’t need my EVM vibrations any more than they need a forest fire or hurricane. My cell phone rests in my pocket put on airplane mode to keep me undisturbed by distractions. I bring it along only to take some pictures if I forget my camera. In my other pocket sit some pinecones and flagrant long needle pine branches (or shells) that I find, sacred artifacts to pull out later.
Like old friends sitting nearby, I do my best work when I release the freshness coaxed by fragrant shells or conifer needles into my imagination, then the sorrows, love and adventure pour out onto paper or a keyboard. I still prefer paper. If I don’t bleed the drama, I suffer a ‘writers’ regret’ headache after forgetting it all later.
|What my picnic table often looks like when writing.|
Back to the question of where my desk is: If I can write it there, it becomes my ‘desk’. The element I need is fresh air. I want to sit right here and write all the time, despite the cold or heat.
Now today, the snow falls thick enough to block the view of the other side of the lake, and there’s no way I can use my laptop without it getting ruined with melted snow inside the warm keyboard. My paper would just get wet and the ink would run. But a story is brewing, a new love affair blossoms in my mind and heart that I have to share or the characters will run off to another writer only too ready to enflame their passion.
The lovers I ‘feel’ right now want to stay inside this summer cabin near where I sit locked outside - in the cold wet elements. I can’t get in either, even if I wanted to. What do I do now in this situation? Most writers would go home or to a café. Not this one. I simply sit under a canopy of trees or camp out in the car. Out comes my thermos of hot tea, my snacks, my quilt, my natural artifacts, Snoopy, and my tablet of paper and pen.
|Yes, I am famous for sitting outside during a blizzard. I even have the boots!|
Yes, I have attended writing retreats in cabins and beach lofts where I got a lot done (only with a lot of windows and outside time around a fire or on the beach). There are a few cafés (and even one old fisherman’s bar) where I can pick up the pen and work near a window with a great artisan java. For a rainy day at the beach, I find a gazebo or patio or sit in the truck and imagine some brave seamen skillfully battle their sails through the treacherous Barnegat Outlet. When at a park, I find a picnic table and people watch.
I wish I could tuck away into some home office sometimes. It would probably be easier, warmer and cheaper. What I found surprising is that many famous names write in their own homes in messy offices, attics, on the couch, bathtubs, in bed or brightly painted rooms. Kindred spirits like me prefer transitional states of mind to pen their works at motels, libraries, riding on trains, plains, boats, buses, in terminals or dark corners in museums, bookstores, local cafés, diners and some even rent space to write.
A few simply need regular gatherings with other creative or just quirky, interesting people to watch. Quite a few had rituals they attended to faithfully, such as watching the sun rise, boards on a barrel, on the soles of their shoe, hiring Feng Shui masters to help with ‘flow’ in their homes, or to write by natural elements.
|That's me, lakeside and writing in a journal of course! Lake Lenape, NJ August 2013|
That last one works best for me, but whatever floats the boat works for you. We all have our own niche – none of them are ‘wrong’ places.
As comfortable as my house has been made, I can never quite capture there the same tickled sensations as being surrounded by the elements. No, home is my quiet place where I hide and relax my brain. The obliged real world at home and my coveted life ‘at the office’ refuse to cohabitate.
|That's me if I stay inside! lol|