Thursday, February 26, 2015

Me and Mrs Woolf

I have a room of my own.

As you see, it's tricked out in my habitual sleek minimalism, plus a few essential photos of Charlie's Angels and the like. It's the second room I've had since I started writing (same desk, different continental mass) and most of the time it works pretty well. I'm side on to the window and it faces the front so there's traffic. Larry next door goes to get hay for the horses twice a week, for a start. But being the last but one house up a dirt road doesn't lead to much in the way of distraction.

There's a cat:

but I've filed her. Occasionally there are woodpeckers trying to get into the eaves or wild turkeys blatantly scratching up seedlings. And one time - well, two times - a snake came in off the porch. Then there was the day of the frog in the waterbutt, the mouse in the cat dish (worried but too full to climb out) and the possum in the cow trough (very dead), but mostly it's just me.

There's no music except for about two hours a year, when I finish a book and print it. Then I put on either ELO's Mr Blue Sky or (recently) Pharrell's Happy (judge away; I don't care) as loud as it'll go and dance around as the inkjet whirrs and the warm pages curl out.

This is why I'll never go on a writers' retreat. Every one I've ever heard of is less retreaty than my real life. Sometimes there are other people.  Brrrr.

And yet sometimes, for no reason I've ever been able to identify, I need to go to Mishka's instead.

It can be at any stage of any draft, any time of any day - suddenly the quiet room with everything I need and the low keyboard for wrist comfort becomes unbearable and what's required is a crowded coffeeshop full of students ordering nonsensical drinks very slowly (liquorice soy chai latte, people? Seriously?) where I can hunch over a laptop with my wrists like hairpins, no reference books and Mariachi classics playing.

I have good and bad writing days at home but the words always pour out at Mishka's.  If anyone knows why, I'd love to hear.


Paul D. Marks said...

Catrionia, I envy you your minimalist, clean, spare, well-lighted place. But even more so your cat filing system, which seems to work pretty well.

Edith Maxwell said...

I like the bottle of wine next to the Agatha teapot, and within easy reaching distance of the armchair. Do you ever sit in that chair and write with pen on paper? Or is it just for reading?

It is odd about the background noise. Same thing works for me.

Catriona McPherson said...

That bottle of wine is from Janet Rudolph's literary salon, where Frank (Mr Janet) puts a your book jacket on a label.

I only read in the chair - and the other one, not shown, that reclines. Can you write with a pen? I need both of my hands to be moving.

Edith Maxwell said...

I can write with a pen, and it surprises me what comes out. Particularly useful for letting ideas emerge when they are refusing to with the keyboard.

clpauwels said...

Lovely setting! I (usually) need the silence as well when I write.

But I do like the tradition of a dance party during printing. Hoping that day comes soon when I can steal borrow that idea. Topped 300 pages today on the current WIP, so...!

Susan C Shea said...

I need your printer. Mine says, "You're kidding, right?" if I want more than 10 pages. I have to drive 10 miles to the FedEx Kinkos to get a whole manuscript.

Totally agree about writing with a pen. Wasting a whole finger?

RJ Harlick said...

I'm into silence too, but am intrigued by the creative push of a busy coffee shop. Maybe I should give it a try.

Robin Spano said...

Are you a real writer? Please tell me that room isn't normally *quite* so clean.