With apologies to Dr. Seuss and inspired by Catherine, Caffeinated’s latest post, “Where I Write: A Retrospective,” I though I’d share a few of the places I’ve written in various periods throughout my writing life.
At one point, I was one of those obnoxious writers who would show up early to a local café, commandeer the table right by the window and set up shop with my laptop and a variety of books and writing implements scattered about. I was there to write, but also to use their free wifi. And swill plenty of cheap coffee. And maybe buy a sandwich at lunch time because, well, a girl’s got to eat. Also, eating out in Montreal is almost always cheaper than cooking at home, particularly if you like inexpensive Asian noodles (which I do). Most of my café writing took place at a joint right next to Concordia’s library building called Kafein. They made some of the tastiest lasagna I’ve ever eaten, and their staff was always super friendly. I also maintain that the camera had been drinking, not me, in the above photo.
A friend of mine once informed me that Spider Robinson began his writing career as a night watchman charged with guarding a sewer, which he humorously described as “Guarding a hole in the ground to make sure no one stole it.” Oddly enough, I have had similarly mind-numbing jobs, which I didn’t mind in the long run because they allowed me plenty of time to write while appearing to be very busy at my “real” job indeed. So when I say “Don’t quit your day job,” I am usually referring to these types of golden opportunities where you get paid to write on the sly. At the job pictured above I wrote tons of stories about my insane jackhole of a boss—all while wearing my winter coat indoors in the dead of winter. Hooray for office work!
Self-explanatory, really. Not recommended, as the eye pieces are placed more to the side of the helmet, making it hard to see. Not to mention the fact that it gets pretty sweaty in there.
As you can see, the place was a bit of a mess, but it had some great light for pondering your morning’s work, and coffee was always within easy reach. It was also one of the least offensive colors in our very oddly painted (by the previous tenant) Montreal apartment.
I have no idea what the name of this town is, but it was somewhere in Brittany and they served some tasty crèpes and sparkling cider. I seriously dig the sidewalk café thing, and France does it right. I look forward to going back someday. Europe is definitely a writer’s best friend.
Some of my best work was actually written in a tiny hallway. This is from the same apartment in Montreal, where my desk was, indeed, placed in a peculiar little hallway that led to our front balcony. I never could figure out why this space existed, as the builders could’ve added a few extra feet to our living room instead, but I guess it’s just one of the great mysteries of life.
This is a shot from my days on the student newspaper, The Link. I joked that I liked to speak softly and carry a big pen as the paper’s Literary Arts Editor. The pink couch was a favorite spot to proofread pages before we sent ‘em off to the printer, though I also got to share an office (with an actual door!) with my friend Lauryn that was dubbed “L-Squared.”
I wish! This is pretty much my dream home: super minimalist, gorgeous wood and stainless steel, sauna, overlooking a foggy pond, and right smack in the middle of nowhere. Click here for more pictures of this fantastic Swedish house.
While my family’s Tennessee horse ranch does share a few similarities with the Mill House (i.e. it’s in the middle of flippin’ nowhere), I find it’s not an ideal environment for writing. Part of it is the fact that I write for the Internet, which means high-speed access is a must. (They have dial-up.) Part of it is the fact that my parents, while very lovely people, do not often leave me alone to write. And then, when they do, I am usually stuck there with no car and no grasp of the local geography wondering, “Where the hell is the nearest Starbucks, and how can I get there on horseback?” I guess I’m just a city girl at heart.
Fans of the Canadian TV series will get this joke. (Right, Sara?) While I was in Toronto on an assignment for the Canadian University Press, I also had the opportunity to meet one of the actors from Degrassi, who invited me to a pool party at his place. That bully grills a mean burger, I’ll tell you what. Toronto is another great city for writers because you don’t need a car to get around, and there’s plenty of bars and cafés to keep you in your favorite beverages. I absolutely adore their streetcar system, which got me everywhere that the subway didn’t go, at all hours of the day and night.
For now I usually work from home, where I’ve got an absurdly messy set of three desks spread out in a corner of my living room. When I get sick of sitting at the desk, I putter over to the couch and pet my cat or grab the laptop and prop my feet up on the coffee table, as pictured. When I need a little fresh air, I take my coffee out on the balcony and try not to let the squawking of Snorky, the World’s Most Irritating Goose, drive me crazy. (Our backyard has a pond that seems to be home to all the world’s wayward water fowl.) Basically, it’s a good place to write, and I’ve gotten used to not having my own office with a door to close upon the world. I hear that’s good for a writer, anyway… especially if you like writing in cafés.
So that’s where I’ve been plunking away at the keys all these years. What about you?