Where and how do you write?

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Very cool chart in Lapham’s Quarterly about writers and their working habits… for instance, John Cheever wrote in the basement, Edith Wharton in bed, and Friedrich Schiller in a study (with his feet sometimes submerged in cold water!).

Do you have any eccentric writing habits?

2 thoughts on “Where and how do you write?

  1. I range between 3 desks in my house to using a lapdesk in a comfy chair or out on the screened porch. Mostly it’s the lapdesk when I’m working on fiction as comfort and surroundings are what put me in the groove.

    Tools are either Clairefontaine notebooks, Basics Journals, or Quo Vadis Habanas, depending on the project. I prefer the notebooks that fold back on themselves, both to make a smaller footprint in my lap and for clipping in that position when transcribing onto the computer.

    Pens are most often Visconti Ripples with palladium BB nibs and Herbin ink, tho’ I may add some Private Reserve in the pens where high saturation won’t cause staining. Alternates are Montblanc Writers Editions with delightfully stubbish B nibs. For precision jobs, I might turn to my Visconti Romanicas with B or even a masterpiece of an M nib. Last are my Conway Stewarts with the IB nibs. They truly improve the look of my writing, but slow me down when I’m on a roll.

    Depending on the day, I may want nature sounds. My house sits on a causeway between a pond and a lake and it’s very peaceful with lots of wildlife. Or I may want a soundtrack and hunt around until I find the right music for the characters.

    Sometimes the choice of ink color makes a huge difference, which is where the easy rinse properties of Herbin make it easiest to change colors.

  2. My creative moments often come in the mid morning. My favorite is more of an experience rather than a place. It involves a great cup of coffee, a spot on the back porch either in the sun on cool days or in the shade later in the summer. I read my Bible a little, and pause to think. I watch my dog explore the back yard and mark his territory like it was his newest conquest. The birds know to be cautious if the cat is out, but they love the sunflower seeds in the feeder. I can barely hear the kids over at the school and if the wind is just right, the train horn as it passes the two crossings in our town. Today the engineer is the one who likes to draw out those blasts long and lonely.

    Somewhere in all that an idea breaks out like a picture suddenly turning from black and white to full spectrum color. I may find myself in the scripture I just read, or I find God in the things going on around me. Sometimes if I don’t write it down right away it is gone like the dew. Other times I can’t get an idea out of my head.

    That is why I use at least two journals. One is more pedestrian, smudged and worn,and is used for those ephemeral flashes of connectivity. It also contains shopping lists and friends phone numbers and what ever else I need to jot quick.
    My other journal (right now is a Habana) is for more refined contemplation. Carrying it makes me feel a little more sophisticated. Kind of like tying your own rather than wearing a clip-on tie. It has sermon notes and outlines, long notes to myself about the why questions rather than the how ones.

    Who am I kidding, some moments happen just like that, most don’t. I am an idea addict, a thought junkie, if it doesn’t happen I try to make it happen. I will pause to entertain a thought whenever and wherever I can get it. And that is why I own a few journals, and a dresser top full of receipts, post-its, envelopes, and text messages to myself of things that only I and my dog will ever think is profound.

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