Sunday, December 11, 2011

Corner Words

"Put your desk in the corner, and every time you sit down there to write, remind yourself why it isn't in the middle of the room. Life isn't a support-system for art. It's the other way around." 
Stephen King, On Writing

My writing space is now a corner desk in our dining room. Not because Stephen King recommends it, but because we wanted to reclaim our dining table. I've been using the table as my work surface ever since we moved into our micro cabin, and that has limited our meals to food that can be eaten from a plate on one's lap. The bare corner between the credenza and the bookcase provided just the right spot for a new work area. We now enjoy a more balanced diet and I have the added benefit of a great homestead view. I consider the desk, which Dennis had made to order, an early Christmas present. Dennis says every day is Christmas. (Is it any wonder I love that man?)

I always enjoy discovering where well-known writers work. In her article The Importance of Place: Where Writers Write and Why, published in Poets & Writers, Alexandra Enders writes: "Conrad Aiken worked at a refectory table in the dining room; Robert Graves wrote in a room furnished only with objects made by hand. Ernest Hemingway wrote standing up; D. H. Lawrence under a tree. William Maxwell preferred 'small messy rooms that don't look out on anything interesting.' Katherine Anne Porter said she got her writing done in the country, where she lived like a hermit. Ben Franklin wrote in the bathtub, Jane Austen amid family life, Marcel Proust in the confines of his bed. Balzac ate an enormous meal at five in the evening, slept till midnight, then got up and wrote at a small desk in his room for sixteen hours straight, fueled by endless cups of coffee. Toni Morrison found refuge in a motel room when her children were small; E. B. White sought it in a cabin on the shore. Due to her problem back, Penelope Lively works in an armchair, with an 'ancient electronic typewriter' on her lap, while A. L. Kennedy finds comfort in a 'monster black chair' in a room 'the color of blood.'"

C.S. Lewis, one of my favorite authors, wrote in his office and rooms behind Magdalen College in England. Of his space, he wrote in a letter:

“My big sitting room looks north and from it I can see nothing, not even a gable or a spire, to remind me that I am in town. I look down on a stretch of ground which passes into a grove of immemorial forest trees, at present coloured autumn red. Over it stray deer. They are erratic in their habits. Some mornings when I look out there will be half a dozen chewing the cud just underneath me.”

Although I'll never reach the literary heights of Lewis, I feel a certain kinship with him every time I look through the window from my desk, as I did this morning, and see the deer descend Prospect Mountain. 

Sometimes what seems like the worst location in which to write, turns out to be the best. The Apostle Paul wrote the Books of Colossians, Philemon, Ephesians, and Philippians from a prison in Rome. To the church in Philippi he wrote: "Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel, so that my imprisonment in the cause of Christ has become well known throughout the whole praetorian guard and to everyone else, and that most of the brethren, trusting in the Lord because of my imprisonment, have far more courage to speak the word of God without fear." (Philippians 1:12-14 NASB)

Where do you write?


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