Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Romanticism of Writing

There is a certain amount of romanticism to writing. Just look at the film montage that was shown at Sunday's Oscar telecast. However, there are very few movies that accurately portray the writer at work (the worst being Diane Keaton in Something's Gotta Give). But for every romantic idea, there is the harsh realities. It can be pretty fucking boring at times. There have been plenty of times when I sit in front of the computer screen and just stare at the cruel white of a fresh Word document. Then I usually go solve a Soduko puzzle, or check out any number of websites that seem to devour the time I set aside to write.

My desk faces a wall that has a large poster of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid on it. To my right is another wall; this one has a poster of Miller's Crossing. There is the usual mess of miscellaneous papers littering the tiny desk, which get pushed from one side to the other, depending on what I'm looking for. This is my little corner, and for the most part I enjoy it. But it is far from the ideal writing area that has french doors through which you can see a beautiful backyard and garden. But if Soduko can occupy too much of my writing time, just imagine how much time I'd spend admiring the view. So, the corner is good for me.

Of course the garden view would be nice, but I think the ultimate place to write would be a quiet pub where I could sip at a pint of Guinness and tap away at my laptop on a lazy afternoon. As nice as this would be, it would be selfish. I'm not a full-time writer; I have to find pockets of time in order to write. So, I tend to write as I interact with my family. There are plenty of times when my son comes up to me while I'm writing and wants to look at photos on the computer, or watch the lastest trailer for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie. There are times when my wife will ask me questions while I'm in the middle of a sentence. And there have been a lot of moments when my daughter needs a bottle - right now! My output would increase tenfold if I did go to that pub and order a glass of stout, but I don't think I'd trade it for the short bursts of interuptions by those I love. Does that make me any less of a writer? I don't think so. That isn't to say that if I ever do become someone who could sustain his family by writing full-time I wouldn't send the kids to daycare during the day while I wrote, but at the moment that isn't the case.

No, my little corner is fine for me. The small desk works OK, and I can continue shuffling papers around as needed. And I can stop every once and a while and watch the TMNT. I'm a writer (and it took me a long time to identify myself as such), I just need to do it my way. Is it the romantic idea of the writing life? I guess for me it is.


Christa M. Miller said...

I make no bones about being selfish: my favorite place to write is this little coffee shop in Portland (I bounce around among several, but one is my favorite). Ideally I get there once a month to work, which makes the interruptions easier to deal with.

I'm not sure if I wish I could go more often, though. I've found while I'm there that I miss my family very much. Six of one, half a dozen of the other!

pattinase (abbott) said...

This is the time I set aside to write today. And what am I doing?

Patrick Shawn Bagley said...

Despite the fact that this apartment is much smaller than our old house, I actually have an office of my own here. It's only about 8' x 10', but it's my space. It holds my desk, pc, two filing cabinets, two bookcases, my stereo, more books stacked on the floor and various bits of junk.

Wall stuff: a HEAVEN'S PRISONERS movie poster that I'm getting sick of looking at, a Maine Geographic calendar, a 3' x 5' Scottish flag, postcards sent by my brother from Israel, Greece, France, India, Japan and Singapore, drawings by my kids, family pictures, my degree, a signed poem by Wes McNair and a wood carving by David Smus (a sculptor who has pieces in the Smithsonian).

I never thought about it before, but I have a lot of crap crammed into this little room.

Lyman said...

My writing surroundings are for the most part untested. A bookcase and the railing to the loft to my right, an open empty space to my left reserved for furniture if I can ever get this freaking house finished. The wall in front of me has my meager VHS collection. My more extensive DVD collection is in three cases under the desk. Directly behind and slightly above the screen is a picture that has haunted me for years called "Hands of the Revolution." I have only written one short story here as I have had oh so little time to write.

However, I found your entry very inspiring. Someday my work on the house will be done. Someday I'll write full time. Until then a bit at a time will suffice. The important thing is to write and never give up on the love of your craft.

Thanks for your insight.

Steve Allan said...

Insight? What is this, daily affirmations with Stuart Smalley? :) You're worrying me. As the father of psychoanalysis once said, "I think what you need is a healthy dose of violent movies and porn."