Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Making a writing space

I don't think I have ever had a real writing space. For years I wrote at the kitchen table, because it looked out on the back yard, the fence, the pond, and often birds would flit in and entertain me. That only worked as long as I had the house to myself, which is no longer the case. So I bought a new desk. But I put it in the only space there was - in the computer room. Waaaaay too close to the internet connection, and the desk slowly filled with papers and books until I couldn't work there either.

In the back yard we have what is laughingly called "the bungalow". It means an odd building that was once used as extra accommodation and now has no insulation, sagging ceilings and enough junk to stock a recycling store. Give me space and I will fill it, being a long-time hoarder. I can tell you that out there are multiple copies of every publication I've ever been involved in, at least four crates chock-full of class materials, all the books I can't throw away but there's no room in the house for them, and sundry items that need to find themselves a rubbish dump to jump into.

I've tried to write out there. It doesn't feel right. What has, surprisingly, felt very right and very workable for the past couple of years are cafes. I've been the Cafe Poet at Melissa's Cafe in Altona for 6 months, and I applied for this because, let's face it, I was writing there at least twice a week anyway! I have a couple of other cafes I like, too. Why? Somehow I can block out all the noise and just write. Well, to be honest, I am unable to block out screaming kids. But chatting coffee drinkers are a cinch.

Now I know it's time to make a real space in my house. Enough of the excuses about how long it would take me to clean out the back room (laughingly called my "office" - we do a lot of laughing about the junk I store everywhere, with gritted teeth). I have made a substantial start. The photo above? I wasn't going to include it, if only because when I started the clean-out, the room actually looked a lot worse! But I figured if I posted the photo here, it committed me to finishing the job.

It's been three days, two huge bags of rubbish, one huge bag of paper for recycling, two boxes of books to donate, and a lot of discoveries of strange, wonderful, long-forgotten items that have surfaced along the way. No, I haven't finished yet. I know I need to get more ruthless, but some of those things I've saved have a lot of meaning for me, and where else do we writers get ideas from, if not from evocative memories?

So by this time next week, I have promised myself the room will be finished. There will be a writing space that I can use, a clear desk, a new keyboard, some of my favorite things around me, and all my research stuff in neat piles, ready to use. Fingers crossed.

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