We have to be out of our flat in two weeks. We are surrounded by a swiftly growing assemblage of boxes; they are eagerly closing in on us, covering pathways, blocking the easiest routes of egress. Worse still, is their power to sap me of my will to write. As they increase in number and size, my ability to function as a creator decreases accordingly.
Wherever my eyes look, they see chaos: dust, empty shelves, fraying carpet seams. My studio is slowly being denuded of charm and character. I look around and wonder, “How did I ever write in this place? How did I create things of purpose and beauty? Did I?” From certain angles, it just doesn’t seem possible. This indignity, it’s monstrous.
It’s an illusion, naturally. Creative spaces are not enchanted rooms or bewitched nooks. They do not bestow extraordinary abilities on all who enter, but instead offer us serenity or stillness or mental and physical discipline. They are practical, safe places rooted in the everyday needs of difficult professions.
Through this tatty veil, though, a bit of magic shines through. Talismans. Books and other scraps of inspiration: photos, quotes, fancy pens, markers, colourful paper clips, a mountain of notebooks, art, calendars, strange ephemera, re-purposed junk. These are the inhabitants that make my studio what it is: a visually and emotionally appealing sanctuary where work gets done.
This brings us back to the lamentations of the opening paragraphs. The growing starkness of the studio is messing with the normal structure of my days. If it ever came down to it, I could write anywhere and under almost any imaginable circumstance. Write with blinders on, focused, unaffected. Unfortunately, the fact that I do not have to means that I do not have to, will not, cannot. I will struggle on for the next couple of weeks, searching for poise. Ideas piling up in notebooks, phrases and plots reaching the edge of fruition. Waiting. Waiting to be unpacked. Waiting to be developed. Waiting.
“I lived to write, and wrote to live.”-Samuel Rogers
The thought of deconstructing my studio space book-by-book, inspiration-by-inspiration, packing them away, carting their heavy bodies off to some as-yet-unknown location, and painstakingly re-assembling the lot is an awful concept to ponder for even two seconds. While the physical contents of my creative life will be carried to this new place, the sense of energy and safety that I’ve enjoyed here, in this spot, for 3 years, are nontransferable. They cannot be put back together again, but must develop organically in a new form that might not be instantly or easily recognizable.
I require a lot from my creative surroundings. Aside from practical considerations of size and wall space and aesthetics, most of my needs are psychological: a logical necessity that somehow manages to defy many points of logic. It doesn’t matter, though. I need what I need in order to write, to create, to be. To be, what? Effective, fertile, happy, productive. I’m drawn to this subject every time a move is on the horizon, when my well-being is jeopardized, scattered, marginalized. That time is almost here. I thought it would be nice to share part of this with you, as it illuminates another of the many over-looked facets of being a writer (or reader). So much of the creative process is odd, hidden, never discussed. Maybe we think that people, including other writers, only want to hear about the practicalities of writing and editing and marketing; about characterization and plots and publishing. I think most of us know that the truth is stranger and more fruitful than that: this truth, so universal, is also boring, terrifying, lyrical, sad, and hopeful. So, let’s do this. Let us look at writing and creating from unexpected angles. Showing the dust in the corners of the literary world is, after all, what this blog is all about.
How important is sense of space to your creative process?
A very nice technician was able to restore our cable feed, but the goblins foiled his many heroic efforts to fix our Internet problem. The prognosis? It should be up and running by Monday afternoon. I could cry. I am going to drown my sorrows in the sweet satisfactions of a UK Kit Kat bar and a few pages of Shaw.
It all comes down to time management. In fact, most of my professional difficulties can be traced to that annoyingly persistent foe. Time management is, if you will, my arch-enemy. While I am extremely organized by nature, I have a hard time keeping firm control over my writing day. The busier I am, the worse my habits become. In March, I am working on the launch of two new blogs, editing a book and consulting on another, and creating three pieces of short fiction. This is in addition to my regular blogging, ‘zining, and writing commitments. My self-control is a shambles. My desk is, even as I type these words, littered with notes, most of which are scraps of half crossed-off to-do lists. My lovely notebooks, ditto. While it is deeply satisfying to strike lines through finished tasks, having a pile of disordered lists lounging about mocking my intentions does not encourage me to actually do anything. Quite the opposite. Technology is equally sterile when faced with dozens of work assignments. I will ignore every single electronic notification put in place to help me along the path to finishing jobs, and will do so every single time with unchained glee. Technology is only my friend when it is helping me waste time or stay connected with people. Otherwise, it can fly off. Continue reading