I just did an interview for a blog called Creative Spaces–I’ll post when it’s up–and it got me thinking about all the writing places I’ve had over the years.
In the beginning and for years to come, it all happened on my kitchen table, where each night after dinner I’d sweep away the crumbs, haul out the manual typewriter, and get to work. We bought the table at a tag sale, like pretty much everything else we owned (except for our bed, $35 at a country auction). Every time we moved to a new rental, the table came along, and it didn’t always wind up in the kitchen. I remember writing on it on a back porch, by a fireplace, in a bedroom we painted green, in the basement of a hundred and fifty year old house surrounded by dairy farms.
I can remember, too, the view, or lack of one, in each of th0se rooms. From that back porch, I once saw a kingfisher. From that bedroom, I watched a blizzard of bees swarm out of the house–it turned out they had a hive in the walls. A beekeeper came and collected the queen, but the bees returned next year anyway. I became convinced I could smell honey while I worked.
Once our first daughter was born, the hunt for a place where all children would be left behind began. Here in Cleveland, I acquired a new desk, a door laid across two stacks of drawers. As the three girls grew up, the main requirement of any work place was another door–one I could close. I taught them that the words “Mama’s work place” were to be spoken with only the utmost reverance.
But now, behold! I work out in the open, beside three glorious windows that let me distract myself with the neighborhood kids and dogs and bike riders, and for three seasons of the year, my blooming perennial garden. I have a real official desk, happily so beat up that spilled coffee doesn’t matter, book shelves, the full deal! These days the intruders have four legs instead of two.
I’m not a laptop person. Ideas happen anywhere, but there’s something about having a spot, one spot, that beckons my sustained imagination from its burrow. I love thinking of all the places I’ve sat, staring and waiting, mumbling and scratching, and where, eventually, a story has emerged. We gave that kitchen table away to a friend, and have long since lost track both of him and it. One of these days, I may write a story about it.