By Lilliana Rose
A few years ago I decided that I was going to pursue a writing career more seriously. One of the main things I focussed on was trying to create a space where I could write, be inspired, and of course not interrupted.
I don’t have kids, and at the time I was single, and there was major family issues that needed a lot of my attention and time, but I figured I needed an appropriate space pronto, and by creating my own space to write, then this would help my creativity flow strong. Easy.
The junk room (aka spare room) was tidied up, the family writing desk, recently inherited, moved into place, and the floor cleared so there wasn’t a trail between piles of books to negotiate through. I changed the curtains to venetian blinds to let more light in through the small window. To make the space feel more creative I hung material from corner to corner, enveloping the ceiling in pinks and purples. But that wasn’t enough. For some unknown reason I wasn’t feeling connected to this space. It was too dark, not bright enough, too cold, and I just couldn’t sit down for long in the room. I purchased a heater, and pulled out a knee rug a relative had knitted for me, and I hung some bright tinsel from the ceiling. Then I figured all I had to do was to sit down and the inspiration would flow through me.
I sat down at the old wooden writing desk, with my lap top, fingers poised ready to dance away on the keys and spill out emotional characters, thrilling plots and beautiful settings.
But I couldn’t write there. I’m not sure exactly why, but one of the reasons was the family desk was made of a dark wood, and the room was small, now much smaller after my decorating attempt, and I felt closed in. I didn’t feel connected to the space. This perplexed me, could I really write? Did I really have it in me to write story after story? For if I couldn’t write in the space I created where could I write? As a little girl, I’d sit at the writing desk, touching the wood, picturing it in my very own home. This had finally happened and I just couldn’t sit and write at it. Disaster (well not quite). I had to go to plan B, which wasn’t even a plan to begin with.
I picked up my lap top, went out to the kitchen table, and wrote.
This worked well enough until the neighbours decided to renovate. One morning I opened the curtains to my living area, and came face to face with a workman on a huge machine on the other side of my dilapidated fence. The noise of the machines was too much, and even though they weren’t on my property I felt that my space had been invaded (now that could’ve been an interesting plot to explore, however I just didn’t feel inspired).
|Image: The Write Cafe|
Then I went to cafés. This worked amazingly well. The noise, the smell, the business of people made it easier for me to sit and write. And this wasn’t even my space.
The only problem was that people kept interrupting me to ask me if I was writing.
I was polite to them – let me make this clearer, often I was totally immersed in what I was writing, and I wasn’t in a little café in Adelaide, but on another planet, fighting some unknown evil, and when interrupted, I was ripped out of my fantasy world and dumped back into reality – and even talk to them, before having to find my way back into my world. I think that this was a good thing because being immersed in my writing too much isn’t always healthy. And it’s important for me to remember that there’s a real world out there for me to be part of.
Maybe writing in public helps me to feel connected with people and less isolated? All I know is that it works for me and that’s important. I don’t actually mind being interrupted; it’s not ideal, but I’m used to it (if I happen to be writing at home, and my partner interrupts me, well he is in big trouble, but when I’m out, it’s different)
Then I moved. I had months without a kitchen table, and the new study had no windows, it’s jammed packed with books, and the beautiful wooden desk (that I still can’t work at). It left me with the only option that consistently worked; I had to go out and write at a café.
It left me with the obvious thing to do, to be part of the café poet program with Australian Poetry, where I go to a café, the T-Bar at David Jones, Rundle mall , Adelaide, once a week with the purpose of writing and promoting poetry (I have a little framed sign ‘Café poet in residence – please disturb).
In order to meet deadlines I’ve written in restaurants, on trams, and on benches waiting for friends. My story, ‘Christmas Wings’ published under the pen name Lily Rose, was partly written on the tram, old school style with pen and paper. It was a miracle I managed to read my notes, but in the chaos of everyday life I managed to write out one of my favourite stories.
I’m about to move again and I’m already checking out the local cafés to see which ones I’m going to enjoy writing at.
My quest to find the perfect space, turned out to be very different to what I had initially imagined, or thought. But at least I found it, and even though it’s not ideal, it comes with it’s own negatives (cost, interruptions, uncomfortable seats, tables at the wrong height for tapping away at the lap top) it works for me – it works incredibly well for me.
Sometimes it’s still about stealing time in the day (or night) to sit and write, but having the space where I’m comfortable means the time carved out can be more productive, enjoyable and satisfying. This is important for me to help bring new stories out into the world. If I only manage to write a short time it’s a bit easier to do the same the next day, and the next, and soon I’ve finished the novel and it’s been fun.
Lilliana has kindly offered Christmas Wings (as a pdf).
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