I’m a bed writer.
Recently, I realized I do my best work while lying in bed with a laptop. I need a Queen-size mattress and some pillows. A couple of cats. A cup of coffee.
Some lessons are a little expensive, as earlier this year I signed a 12-month lease on studio space in the center of town. I went in it with an artist friend of mine, so it’s not too expensive, but I’m realizing, it’s unnecessary. Although the idea of having a writing studio seemed like a good one at the time I signed the lease, I now realize that bed, and a few other venues, make me more productive and less isolated.
Sometimes it’s nice to sit up in my studio amid the treetops in the center of town and think: Ah, my own writing studio. It also makes me feel tired and lonely and stupid. This is not the room of one’s own I need.
Well, live and learn, or as in my case so often, pay and learn.
One thing I need to do over the coming year is reclaim the room downstairs in my house where I spent two years writing my first full-length book, perhaps never to be published, but oh, the productivity: 50,000+ words about the quirky-jerky relationships of my life. I sat in a comfortable office chair I’d brought home with me from a job I left in 1986, with the stuffing popping out of a rip in the green vinyl-covered seat cushion. Next to the writing table (no desk, no frills) I had a single bed. Yes, I would lie down in between chapters or paragraphs, or essays, or sentences. Sometimes I’d lie down in between punctuation marks. And then I’d sit up and write again.
Sometimes Sweetie, my late, beautiful Maine Coon cat, would nap on the bed with me in between my productive spurts.
The room has fallen into a state of neglect. When Sweetie passed away in early 2011, I stopped using the room. My abandonment of a perfectly good writing space may have been part of my mourning process. Soon after her death, I brought home two crazy little felines – Mia and Timmy – and I set their litter box up in the closet in that room. I decided, for the first time, to use Fresh Step clumping cat litter. I’d never used clumping cat litter with Sweetie, but now I had two cats, and I thought it a good idea. If you didn’t know, as I did not, Fresh Step is the best litter for eliminating odors (and giving Timmy’s paws the scent of Fresh Step cologne) but it is the dustiest litter on the market. Every time you pour the stuff, it travels through the air and lands, on everything.
Still, every time I walk past that dusty and messed up room, I say inside: RECLAIM YOUR WRITING SPACE. And that is my goal for the end of the year. It’s not just about “where” I write but where I want my body and spirit to be. I want to spend more time at home with my family, which consists of my 82 year old mother, two cats, and a bunny. I’m gone 12 hours a day during the week. I would like to spend some time at home on the weekends.
When I was writing Claudia Songs, I would write so often in that room downstairs, and when I needed more human sounds around me, I would go to a library or to Panera Bread. For a living, I work in an open environment and have for 20-plus years, so too much silence can be jolting for me. I feel like the last woman on the planet as I stare out at those treetops in my studio.
I read a blog entry by the great teacher and writer, Joy Castro, whose novel, Hell or High Water, and her book of essays, Island of Bones, will be released in the coming weeks. In her blog, Joy talks about “a room of one’s own” being something, perhaps, of the privileged, and that a writer should be able to write anywhere with nothing but a pen and paper. I happen to agree with her. Thank you for reminding me, Joy.
This morning I woke up and rather than running to the gym, I picked up my laptop and sat in bed and began rereading what I hope becomes my second book, the one about panic attacks and agoraphobia. I started revising it and thinking: this is the project to work on when you are on vacation in July. Work on it in bed.
And then start cleaning up that room downstairs. There’s a lot of writing to be done.