In Poets & Writers March/April 2014 I read a good essay in the “Where We Write” section and it led to this reflection on where I write. As someone who has moved around a lot, I don’t have the regional attachment that essayist Mary Stewart Atwell has to her Virginia origins. So where do I write?
I write in my daughter’s basement where I live. I write in retirement from my former work as a psych nurse. I write in coffee shops where no one has expectations or claims on my attention. I have written in Georgia, Louisiana, California, New Hampshire at the Frost Place, Maine, Manhattan and Vermont. Now I write in Colorado. I write in the future and in the past. I write in hotel rooms and lobbies where I people watch (all in the name of research), the same in airports and train stations. I write in friends’ living rooms.
I write in the wing chair near the door of the mansion that houses Lighthouse Writers’ Workshop in Denver. I write in church when the minister makes a good argument for a life of the spirit, of justice, of generosity. I write in bars and bookstores while other poets read or recite and trigger a tingle in my brain. And in Burger King while the mechanic magicians next door change the oil in my old Camry. I write on the magnificent deck of a cabin 9000 feet up Black Mountain near the Colorado/Wyoming line.
One whole summer I wrote in my sister’s spare room and had to report my progress every morning when I came down for breakfast. I write in the margins of books (only ones I own). I don’t write in libraries because the miles of unread books seduce me. I write wherever there’s ink, paper and a semi-flat surface, though that surface is often my own lap. I write in the cloud and in my journal. I write in restaurants between the seating and the eating. I write in dreams and in daylight. I write in meetings to keep myself focused. I write in workshops for fear that I might forget something. I write in my sleep and wake up scrambling for pen and paper. I’ll write in the next life if someone will put a pen into the urn with my ashes.