Where I would like to write and where I actually do write are in large part two very different places.
I’ve set up a space in our house that we call the writing room. It’s one of our three bedrooms and in it I’ve put my grandmother’s old dining table for a desk (tiny for a dining table, really. Clearly people were thinner and needed far less elbow room in the 1920s). It faces the doors that look out onto the path and rock wall that is immediately outside our front door. On top of the rock wall is our front garden, so the view from the writing room is pretty and green.
There’s a side table on which sit various knick-knacks for the cats to knock over with the furry little butts as they clamber by. I have a desk chair, an overstuffed and very disorganised filing cabinet, some bookshelves and a printer. It’s a very fine set-up. And until recently, I almost never did any writing in there.
Where I do most of my writing is sitting in the window seat of a State Rail train. I perch on an inadequately padded bench seat, my laptop balanced on my knees and I write from the Central Coast to Hornsby, every morning for 40 minutes. I don’t write on the return trip because I usually don’t have a brain by that time in the day – it’s been pummelled into submission by an entire day’s gainful employment.
The success of my writing schedule on my commute I believe can be attributed largely to one thing: I am a captive audience. I have nowhere else to go, little else I can do and as I’ve established this routine over (sadly) many years now, I am completely compliant to it. As soon as I step into that sterile blue space, my writing brain just clicks into gear.
There are also few distractions: no TV to be watched, no partners to talk to, no cats to feed, no housework to do or urgent eBay research to conduct. The landscape we travel through is too rugged for internet reception, so I can’t go snaking around email, Facebook, Instagram, Amazon, or Pinterest as I do at home. So it’s just me, the laptop, the view and 50 silent and slightly cranky commuters who will fillet anyone who tries to make noise (thank God for quiet carriage Nazis – although one did tell me once I was typing too loudly).
But, I refuse to give up on the dream and indeed am pulling closer to it day by day. The moving ornaments (aka the cats) hang out with me in the writing room whenever I’m in there so that’s motivating. Also, I work from home a couple of days a week now so slowly my beleaguered brain is (in a distinctively Pavlovian way) coming to accept it as a place of work and concentration.
Really, it doesn’t matter where you write as long as you do it. And I’m the last person to hold out for some idyllic place in the country or by the sea, before I can get to work. But I love my little writing room (or a little room to write, as it were – get it?!) I put a lot of time and care into setting it up and dammit, I’m not going to let it go to waste.
What was it Virginia Woolf said? “A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction”. Well, at least I have the latter…
*Where to do you write best? At the kitchen table? In a basement? Taking up a café table in town? I’d love to know what works for other people.