“My name is Stephen King. I’m writing the first draft of this part at my desk. There are things on my mind. Some are worries, some are good things, but right now all that stuff is up top. I’m in another place, in a basement place where there are lots of bright lights and clear images. This is a place I’ve built for myself over the years. It’s a far-seeing place. … But you’re quite likely in your own far-seeing place, the one where you go to receive telepathic messages.”
Do you have your writing place? Perhaps a corner, a desk or even a room where you go to dream and write? Your ‘far-seeing’ place? Somewhere private that allows you to abolish all distractions and focus on your writing?
Truman Capote said he did his best work in motel rooms, and so did Maya Angelou. James Joyce, as his vision failed, took to wearing a milkman’s uniform while writing. Supposedly he believed it caught the sunlight and reflected it down on his page. John Cheever’s son Benjamin wrote:
“My father would put on his suit in the morning and take the elevator down with the other men heading out to work, but he wouldn’t get off at the first floor. He’d go down to the basement and to a maid’s room. Here he’d take off his suit, hang it up, and type in his underwear. Thus he was able to keep up appearances and save on dry-cleaning bills.”
“Are you going to see Arthur Hailey, too?” Jeffrey Archer asked Richard Joseph, his interviewer. “If you do get out to the Bahamas, and get to see the room where he works… Well, I’ll say no more. It’s what every author dreams of.”
J.K. Rowling on the other hand wrote her novel longhand in a café while her child slept in her pram.
Lately things have changed for us writers. Most of us have laptops or netbooks that we can use to write from almost anywhere. In the library, on the train, on the metro, or on the bus, while commuting to school or work. Some of us have our special corners in our favorite cafés, be it Starbucks or Tim Horton’s or Second Cup, where we sit and write amid all the noise. We look at the blank page and become nervous, excited, confident or even scared sometimes. We become terrified that we can never completely put on the page what’s in our minds and hearts. But we are committed and take our writing seriously. That’s why we can write anywhere and create our corner almost everywhere. As Stephen King writes:
“Tabby and I stayed at Brown’s Hotel in London, and on our first night there I was unable to sleep. I got up, went downstairs, and asked the concierge if there was a quiet place where I could write longhand for a bit. He led me to a gorgeous desk on the second-floor stair landing. It had been Rudyard Kipling’s desk, he told me with perhaps justifiable pride. I was a little intimidated by this intelligence, but the spot was quiet and the desk seemed hospitable enough; it featured about an acre of cherry wood working surface, for one thing. Stoked on cup after cup of tea, I filled sixteen pages of a steno-notebook. When I called the quits, I stopped in the lobby to thank the concierge again for letting me use Mr. Kipling’s beautiful desk.
“I’m so glad you enjoyed it,” he replied. He was wearing a misty, reminiscent little smile, as if he had known the writer himself.
“Kipling died there, actually. Of a stroke. While he was writing.””