You took my breath away.
The last Dewdrops was An Invitation to share your writing spaces. Little did I know the feast for the physical, emotional, and literary senses I was about to experience. Images and words from all different kinds of writers from all over the world have since journeyed to me. It is my honor to share these writers’ writing spaces and journeys.
Isabel Allende lights a candle to call inspiration and the muses, to invite the spirits to be with her as she writes. Terry Tempest Williams writes with a glass of water on her desk, to remind her that even when it feels like nothing is happening, that just as the water is invisibly evaporating, transformation is happening in her writing.
Both of these rituals speak powerfully to me and I emulate them on in my own writing space.
After I sent out the Invitation, my literary agent and dear friend, Liz, immediately wrote to me, “Dawn, there is beauty in the neat-and-tidy aspect of your cleaned up desk. But there is also beauty in a certain sort of messiness that only occurs when creation is taking place. Some times ‘the swirl and swing of words’ is too powerful to be neat and tidy! Happy New Year — and Happy Creations in 2013. love, Liz.”
It is in the spirit of the “beauty in a certain sort of messiness that only occurs when creation is taking place,” and the number of you who wrote to me that your writing space was too messy to share, that I include this photo of one of my writing spaces, in all of its messiness, creativity, and authenticity.
I was working on the new book, Raven’s Time: Wildness and Beauty, and decided to take this photo, as it so aptly reflects my writing life. I always thought that writing would involve – well, a lot less mess.
I envisioned a beautiful study, the desk always neat, and me with hours to write. While I do have a beautiful writing desk—thanks to my husband, Noé, who created a fabulous writing space out of old bookshelves and a child’s desk—it sits in the middle of our single, very busy living room. The living room is often filled with our three teenagers, my husband, the German Shepherd, music, and noise. I often write with ear plugs, as activity abounds around me. I work full-time outside the home, so time alone at my desk is rare. This table top aptly reflects the realities of my writing life; the web clusters of chapter ideas, the journals, the computer, the books and more books with sticky notes where there are quotes I want to remember. These are mixed along with the dog leash and sun glasses from the run that I just went on with our dog, my new glasses (I walked into the eye doctor’s office and said, “I’ve always had 20/20 vision and now I’m over 40 and I can’t see. Help!), the coffee cups, our kids’ homework, school and sport schedules, and the registration form set out to remind me to complete it for our oldest son. It would only be more complete, if there were the vegetables that I was cutting for dinner somewhere on the table, too.
In my experience, we keep thinking that somehow writing is set apart from life. For most of us, though, it is found within the fullness of life.
It is within the fullness of each of these writers’ lives that they share these images and aspects of their writing spaces and journeys. If you don’t have a fresh cup of coffee or tea with you, I invite you to take the time to make one to enjoy these spaces of 25 members and members-at-large of our Dewdrops community from around the world. These deserve to be savored.
Jennifer Wolfe, Davis, California USA When I was a little girl, I was terribly shy. Talking to most people was a physical impossibility for me – I’d rather hide behind a tree than have to speak to my friend’s parents as they opened their door. I was perfectly content burying myself in library books, finding great adventures through someone else’s life stories….So last summer when I let loose this blog, my voice was born. Over the last 365 days, I’ve learned to trust it, listen to it, and share it. I’ve learned to pause, ponder and pour it out onto the page. I’ve learned to watch and heed the commentary it produces, to observe the emotions it creates, and to suspend that inner critic who cautions me that I’m treading on the brink of disaster. Now that I have a little girl, I’m not so shy. Talking to most people is not a physical impossibility anymore – as long as I can let my fingers do it for me.
Susan J. Tweit, Salida, Colorado USA My office – It’s inside, but it feels like outside. The desk (built by my late beloved, the best sculptural cabinetmaker I will likely ever know) was made to fit into the bay at the end of my tiny room (I call it my nest), right into the bay with windows that give me a panoramic view over town, from the Arkansas Hills to the east to the Sawatch Range to the west. (I wrote about my office and my view in an essay in the anthology An Elelvated View: Colorado Writers on Writing.) Richard built the shelves too, sizing the top shelf so I could display all the books I’ve written face out, and see, as he said, “the body of your work” to inspire me as I write. The walls and ceiling are four colors for the four directions: yellow for south, terra-cotta for west, midnight blue for north and the heavens (ceiling) overhead, sage green for east. So there you have my writing space, a little cluttered but full of special mementos of friends, family and the community of the land. My inspiration.
Joe Breeden, Santa Fe, New Mexico USA I’m actually writing about this myself as part of my travel book. Because I travel a lot, I do most of my writing from the road. I find the quiet of a hotel room to be too easily distracting. I like the steady drone of life around me as I write. I am writing about people and places that I see while traveling, so why not write in that place with those people. Ironically, the occasional fleeting distraction of people walking by or a song I know playing gives me my needed momentary pause before diving back in. My writing space is defined by my laptop, iPad, and iPhone. In the afternoon, add a cup of chai. In the evening, add a beer. In general, I describe my setting as “A bar, a beer, and a band.
Terre Jones, Santa Fe, New Mexico USA While creating my photo essay, Road Trip: A Photographer’s Journey to America’s National Parks, my “office” was packed along with me in a hybrid SUV. Cameras, computers and external hard drives were with me at all times – often literally on my back – a little “turtle-esque” I suppose. So at a slow, but steady pace, I traversed these United States – in a non-direct path from Acadia National Park in Maine to Death Valley National Park in California and then back again to Washington, DC. For over three month and some 19,000 solo driving miles… nature was my office as well as my “counsel” as I tried to convey through photographic images and the words of great poets and environmentalists, the beauty of this country and the power of solitary observation. Upon my return home, my “Tree House” office at Wolf Trap Foundation was waiting for me… a place still in touch with nature where I could finish the edits and composition. It was a “road trip” inspired by Steinbeck and a personal dream come true!
Chasity Vigil, Pecos, New Mexico USA My writing space is an extension of myself…It’s fantastical. A world outside of this one, an escapists world filled with cartoons and fairies and dragons. In this picture you can’t see the bookshelves laden with stories collected since I was four… Notebooks everywhere; half empty… Pens stashed so that I would never be without one. There is something inspiring about writing in notebooks with pens. The inability to erase makes the thoughts careful in their choosing. There is no white out in my space. Just a permanence to the words. I write young adult fantasy, because my world resides in that age… because pieces of me never grew up… because its of my own story are mixed into the stories I write and reading is empathic. We read to find others like ourselves and share in our troubles, share in the inability to fit into society, into school, into the world in general. We like stories that we can say “I have felt this and know, there are others just like me.” My current projects include Destiny. It is a 4 to 5 book series for young adults that focuses on four teens destined to destroy their world from birth. A story about choices and how we treat each other and the consequences it brings and growing. I am working on a collection of memoiristic essays that I will be calling Butterfli. Lastly I am working on Theunmapped.com a website that will contain a personal blog, a young adult literary journal (not taking submissions yet) that I will be editing and publishing online, and a forum based bookclub in three parts. One fore children and their parents, one for young adults, and one for adults so that the circle and joy of reading never ends.
Kathleen Krueger, Brainerd, Minnesota USA Once a week, this is my writing space for the afternoon. It is the gift shop for our local arts organization. When serve as volunteer cashier, I bring my laptop, so that I can keep writing. It is a beautiful, serene environment that also has connected me with many of the artists in the area.
Amy Sayers, Santa Fe, New Mexico USA I am a New Mexico based writer and artist living in lovely Santa Fe. My aim is to produce intricate designs that are layered with symbolism and live in a striking form which then moves and inspires the viewer. My paintings are constructed with layers of Venetian plaster, burnished with pure pigment, oil pastels, photographs, writings, drawings and found objects. The various mediums produce a delicate texture and add depth to my palette. I am drawn to mythology, Jungian psychology, poetry, dance, classical music and dreamtime. Ideas occur in early dawn, in the time between waking and dreaming or simply walking through my backyard, which empties into the arroyo behind my house. I also explore my own style during peaceful and quiet moments, away from the hustle and bustle of every day life. To create my own pieces of art for other people’s pleasure make me feel very proud and privileged.
Brenda Cervantes, Monterrey, México I sometimes feel the need to write to clarify my mind, trying to get some “explanation”, absorb my experiences, the “good” ones and not “so good” ones, and be more aware of them , also in a certain way confirm my way and my decisions, but it is most of the time for myself, I am not a professional as you can see je! I used to have kind of diaries, but now I feel more comfortable writing on my netbook.
Lauren Zaira, recently back in Berkeley, CA after El Salvador and the World I’m looking forward to seeing other’s writing spaces. Since I’m not a professional writer…and since I have trouble sitting in one spot for too long…I tend to create from spaces with views…of the garden, of the volcano. I like to be outside and in the sun if possible. Lately, I’ve been journaling everyday. I go through phases, but am currently rereading “the artist’s way” and enjoying her “morning pages”. Sometimes my morning pages happen at 3pm or before bed…but I like the process whatever time it happens to be. I also try and make a point of including some positive affirmations. These days it’s “I am now attracting the right job for me!” Yes, I’m looking for a job…and during these rare times of not enough to do or in seeking out “what’s next” I feel so very thankful for having the tools to write and journal.
Laurie Jameson, Llano, Texas USA What I’m looking for while creating my new writing area: space around me so I don’t feel closed in, natural light coming through the windows with a view of trees and lawn, nothing on the walls to distract me, everything organized and within easy reach so I do not have to leave my chair, no interruptions (unless the house is burning down!), absolute silence (that is not going to happen with neighborhood dogs, traffic, and a husband, but I can pretend). Most of all, less equals more. With less stuff around me I will have more peace of mind, more focus, more ability to tap into the newly emerging images and thoughts in my consciousness instead of being always drawn back into the past to reflect on what I used to do, what worked and didn’t work, what is still unfinished. Soon, I tell myself, soon…and then who knows what kind of characters and story will emerge!
Saraí Vasquez, Sacedón, Spain Mi lugar para escribir, para pensar, para organizar mis ideas, para leer, para checar mis emails y, por que no, el lugar donde también algunas veces leo mi facebook :). Te envío algunas fotos de los lugares que me han ayudado ha inspirarme, que me han dado la paz y tranquilidad para escribir y volver a escribir. (My place to write, to think, to organize my ideas, to read, to check my emails, and why not, the place where I also sometimes read my facebook. 🙂 I send you some fotos of the places that have helped to inspire me, have given me the peace and tranquility to write and return to write.)
Lisa Dale Norton, Santa Fe, New Mexico USA Goin’ to the Lake was a common phrase in my childhood. My parents had purchased a ramshackle fishing cabin in 1960 and spent years of summers and stolen days in fall and spring driving the one hundred miles from our home in small town Nebraska to the abandoned Sandhills further west where my father built walls and cupboards, and my mother sewed curtains and slip covers.In the summer that magical phrase goin’ to the Lake peppered my days with anticipation: “We’re goin’ to the Lake this weekend,” my mother would say. “Your father is goin’ to the Lake; we’ll follow next week.”
Now years later, my father and mother are dead, and the old lake cabin serves as the touchstone for family and home and all that is sacred and sweetly nostalgic. When I go to the Lake, I spread my papers and books amidst sentimental paraphernalia my father left on the wooden desk the last time he used it—a paperweight with the words The Boss; a plastic wind-up toy of teeth that dance across the surface when set loose to flap and chatter; a mug with his name on it delineating the meaning of Bill: resolute/determined; a gag gift of a wooden egg, standing on two wooden feet that when grasped and lowered reveals a sign rising from its top reading: Help! I keep the old and add the new, feathers and rocks I gather on walks, a windblown bird’s nest, the half shell of a creamy blue robin’s egg. The desk sits below the screen windows of the porch and looks out into a corner of the yard where a ancient grove of lilacs prosper. Bunnies and baby robins get lessons in life skills in the grass beyond that screen. I sit there and ponder, tap-tap-tap on the laptop. Sometimes I put my feet up and just let the thread of continuity link me with all that I value. From that rise the words I know I have to say.
Nicky Leach, Santa Fe, New Mexico USA. Right now, as you know, I am homeless and living in other people’s spaces. I don’t have any setup at all and do everything on a tiny and very mobile laptop. That is my writer’s life now… It’s quite hard. I miss my own space. But I am glad for the fluidity of inspiration… Right now, where I am living at two landscape artist friend’s old adobe, I am surrounded by all their art and their lives. I actually love that. It is so interesting to me to tune into other people’s environments and different landscapes. I’ve made a point to try to live in the world, and be inspired by it and others in recent years. Of necessity, but also a very good step in my spiritual journey.
Kenna Rojdnan, Sedona, Arizona USA My Desk: Everything ends up on my desk. It’s a place where my thoughts live…..literally. It’s one of the messiest places in my house. I love a neat, clean home, but my desk is the exception to that. I’m a visual person, so everything has to be out in the open for me to see it, or I will forget about it. Because of this, I have empty supplement bottles to remind me to reorder them on amazon, art projects to finish, cookbooks that I’m reading, bills to be paid, lists and lists of things I want to buy that I see online, lists of things I’ve researched, family photos…..anything that lives in my brain ends up on my desk. So, by the looks of my desk, I must have a very active brain!!
Creation Board: I create my creation board with my intentions in the very center of the board. I find words that describe my essence, which is how I see myself and also what I want to embrace about me. I know that from my core all other things are created, so having my essence in the center of the board is essential. Every time I read a magazine, I am constantly tearing out pictures or words that are examples of what I want in my life and post them on my board. Several things have already been created from my board, and when that happens I leave the picture on the board to remind me of how powerful my intentions can be. I love being able to look at my board and remember how beautifully I am creating my life. It always gives me a sense of myself, especially during times when I might begin to doubt that anything is really happening or if it seems to be happening too slowly. I’ve created a second creation board to hold only the essence of what life gives me. It’s not a wish board for the things I want, but a board that holds words that describe me and my spiritual journey; words like, Thank You, Incredible Journey, Vibrant, Roam Free, Be Amazing, Believe You Can Do Anything……..these words capture what my heart feels and reminds me of where I always live within myself. Friends who see my creation boards always say to me, “That’s totally you, Kenna!”
Will Barnes, Santa Fe, New Mexico USA Here is my disaster of a work space! Ha, what a fail! I am swamped in clutter, organizationally challenged, or, what I do is set things down, because putting them away requires so much decision-making, and I am paralyzed by that; when I come in with things to put someplace, I am way over-tired and have absolutely no will to decide, or to sort, or to ferret, or to search out an appropriate resting place. All I want is to be rid of the armload of miscellany. So it all goes down in a pile. To remain there until the room burns down. Or I wake inspired to clear the decks. It is that time of year. You can see the candle poking up hopefully! The chaos has forced me to find other writing climes. I’ve become a wandering writer, leaving piles in my wake everywhere. I am the “pigpen” of writers. ala. I hate that about myself. I want clarity so badly. What do people do with their piles? When they are tired and can’t decide? Here is a poem:
Cinthya Alvarado Martínez, Quetzaltenango, Guatemala To write means for me, more than just taking one pencil and write what my mind dictates to me. Writing is the possiblity to touch the sky with your fingers, is the way to create an imaginary world around you and discover a treasure in the heart of the earth; but also, express the excitement of a Joyless or the sadness of a lost.One of my dreams is be a writter, not that one that everyone reads, but one that shares more than feelings, one that shows the soul of the human person.Having an space to express yourself with your one music, a view or feel comfortable is important to help you to feel with more inspiration, my room is my space is where I spend hours writing, drawing and reading. Always that I write, I also make pictures of what I wrote.It is not necessary to be a wise person to write, but the the wisdom of the life appears when you open your heart to the gift of writing.
Christy Reveles, Santa Fe, New Mexico USA I love how tranquil and yet energized I become once I sit down to bead. Concentration and focus on the beautiful beads and designs I am making are a wonderful sort of meditation for me.
Michele Hussey, Doha, Qatar I love how I looked at my writing spaces after I took these pictures. I was taking them for granted! I never take my computer to bed, but I do write in my journals before bed, usually with a cup of tea beside me. I started writing in four journals in 2004, one for each of my sons, one for my husband and one for me. I usually end my day writing in one of them. They don’t know I am doing this. I have been putting down stories as well as reflecting on our lives together. Right now, it’s more for me, but eventually I hope it is a cherished gift for them. I am always at one of our tables to do work-related writing, emails, etc. I have always aspired to writing something that is publishable, but have never had the drive to do the work it takes to make that happen. Enough writing is there when I need it, and that’s good enough for me right now!
Doha, perhaps like many desert cities, is mostly tones of beige, including all of the houses and buildings. When we moved here and stepped into our house, it was the one thing that we had to change immediately! Every wall and floor in the whole house was beige, hard and cold. I can’t remember the exact timing, but I know we got on the painting within the first few weeks! It made all the difference in the world.
Susan Sandretto, Dunedin, New Zealand Currently working on a research report.
Berenice Cisneros Villalba, Oaxaca, México I am from Oaxaca, and here there are so many nice and picturesque spaces to relax and most importantly to inspire during the writing process. What I look in a space is to feel relaxed. In the first picture, there is a big window, I sit, look through it and see people, cars, dogs, etc passing in front of me and from then I get the topic I will develop my writing. (that window is like a bola mágica that helps me to write magical things)
I like the couch; I sit, lie down and connect those inner ideas I got from the first place. I like the light. It is like “amber” that helps me feel creative and I feel the flow of the ideas connecting among themselves easily. Here are some examples of my writing (the ones I have written in that place).
A window for possibilities
A green path of shift and access
A web page
A radio cluster trial
A vision to access mass communications
With control like a spider
As a flash of meanings
With no exact meanings
A blue fish of solar energy
In a fisherman’s net
The web a free-association
A window for possibilities
A green path on shifts and access
A window, a nucleus.
Each space as unique as the writer’s fingerprint, the spectrum of spaces are as infinite and varied as snowflakes.
Whether they be public, private, nomadic, permanent, messy, neat, inside or in the wild, each carries an individual and sacred voice.
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