Thursday, 20 August 2009
Space seems to be very important for writers. Hemingway and JK Rowling wrote in cafes; Katherine Mansfield liked 'transitional places', getting her ideas often in trains and hotel rooms. Wordsworth composed while on the hoof outdoors, Mrs Gaskell on the end of the kitchen table, the Bronte sisters round the fire in the Haworth parlour.
Even after twenty years of computer usage, I still write by hand before transferring it onto the screen. I seem to need that unbroken line between the brain and the hand for the words to trickle down onto the page. Later, I transfer the handwritten text to the keyboard, editing as I go. Both processes need space. When my children were small, writing space was difficult to find. I wrote a lot in the middle of the night when they were all in bed. But you can't always persuade your ideas to pop up only between the hours of 9pm and 3am! I would often write while shut in the bathroom for a few blissfully solitary moments, or in my car - scribbling at traffic lights, or parked outside the school. During the school holidays I used to go to the local library for a couple of hours. My very first biography was written under these conditions.
Now I have my own space, constructed specially for me by Neil. Lots of light, bookshelves, horizontal surfaces to litter with papers and books and - of course - the obligatory peace and quiet, high in the roofspace of the Mill. The windows have views only of the sky. On the walls I have family photographs, a painting of the farmhouse where I was brought up and a few mementos, including a literary award - just to remind me that it can happen. Self belief, it seems to me, is a very big percentage of any kind of creative art, and - perhaps - much more important than having the right space to do it in.
Where do you write? I'd love to know. For other 'Writers' Rooms' click here.