Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Where I'm Writing From

You should see the town I’m writing from. Main Street starts with a set of railroad tracks running alongside Drexel Heritage Furniture Plant Number One, an enormous cinderblock structure, empty now, with kudzu climbing up the old loading bays. Beyond the factory, there is a lump of storefronts: the barbershop where they hold Saturday morning pickin’ sessions, a home-healthcare supplies office, a used bookstore, and a pizza restaurant. Up the hill, there’s the post office, and across from that, the First Baptist Church of Drexel, easily the town’s largest building. On down, there’s a Pentecostal Hispanic Church housed in a converted bank, an elementary school, a crisis pregnancy center, a coin laundry, and a row of tidy and not-so-tidy houses. Mine, the last in the line, is a dingy-colored stucco with a gravel driveway and an ancient holly tree, so large and unwieldy, it almost completely obscures the view of my house from the street.

Me, I’m inside, nurturing an instinct that is one of my life’s most enigmatic, glorious blessings, both terrifying and illuminating, cruel and extraordinary. I have learned, in these ten-odd years of trying, a handful of truths when it comes to this singular pursuit: writing, for me, requires this tiny space inside this tiny town. It’s the ideal isolation. I didn’t grow up here, but instead drifted here as an adult through a turn of events I’m not sure I could trace even if I wanted to. I have a writerly faith about these sorts of things, though, about how the creative life pulls itself together. For reasons I don’t completely understand, I belong here, hidden behind that prickly holly tree.

I'd love to hear from you: Where do you belong? What does your art demand: people and activity and culture or unflinching solitude? Do you have a place to go hide out and write? Or, do you find yourself yearning to break free of your solitude, to quit hiding behind a tree?

3 comments:

Jessie Carty said...

I've been going through a bit of a downturn in my writing, meaning, I was floundering with pieces that weren't working or I plain didn't want to write. I can write just about anywhere on keyboard or on paper but I was actually getting stalled because I was overdoing the way I organized my work. There is something to be said for having an organized but yet still open mental space. I had cluttered my space up in an attempt to be streamlined. Somethings just need to be a bit more messy, a little less perfect for me to be open to write.

Great post :)

Georgia said...

I have found my perfect writing spot. In the loft, looking out enormous windows toward the mountains, I can gather my thoughts and preserve them (until I edit). I also have found that the morning is my best time, but I have to exercise diligance and perseverance. In other words, work at it. Unfortunately my peace and quiet do not go hand in hand with building a cabin, which is what my husband is doing all around my oasis. I really do want the beautiful rock fireplace he is building, and I don't want to shelve my writing goals because of the noise. Truthfully, I have found there is no perfect time or day or situation. Writers have to compromise and adjust, which is Susan's forte. The mommies who are able to focus on their writing deserve chocolate kudos.

Lorna said...

I only write so I can find out what I think; that makes almost anywhere a good starting place.