I offer up a rumination about rooms, on this 5th day of Writer’s Camp for Wallies. In the best of all possible worlds, if one is a writer, one needs a room of one’s own, but it would also be fine if it provided a view, a good view, of something either internally interesting or externally, something in the way of architecture, decor, design, or natural beauty. It’s all good if you can get it. And I have been very fortunate at this year’s writer’s camp to find these kinds of spaces. Only one day thus far have I been skunked out of the sky room in the science building. That’s my favorite spot. It’s up high, three of its four walls are mostly window, looking outside on the campus of Mt. Holyoke and inside to the rest of the science building interior, a wonder of modern, contemporary design. It’s private and quiet–I can sound my barbaric yawp in there and no one is the wiser–but it does have a kind of fishbowl effect, which is a bit disconcerting, because, while they can’t hear my yawp, anyone can see me in there when they walk around the corner to find the restrooms, and if I know them, and see them, and they see me seeing them, I feel obligated, as do they, to give a little wave. It appears then, that sometimes the view can be distracting.
When writing in my other favorite place, a classroom sometimes all to myself in the same science building, designed in miniature theatre style with tiered rows of tables in an almost complete circle, no one can see me in there and there are no interruptions except for the ones presented to me by the device I’m using to write fiction–my laptop. After a half hour of reading out loud or typing furiously away on a new passage, I take a rest for a second and then find myself compelled, beckoned, cajoled, teased by the Facebook, by the Huff Post, by the Email, by the Blog.
So, feeling like I’ve been pretty productive this week making strides toward a complete draft of the new novel, I felt what I needed to do today was to allow myself some time to read. I vowed after lunch to have a technology free afternoon. I trekked to the library and I left my phone and my computer behind me in the dorm. For two straight hours, the longest stretch of continuous personal reading time in recent memory, I found myself back inside the Whiting Alcove in the library. I’m reading Jane Smiley’s 13 Ways of Looking at the Novel and I read today perhaps the most exquisite and simultaneously straight forward explanation of exactly what this novel thing is, after all, and to the backdrop of a raucous New England thunderstorm. Now, back in my dorm, the sky is mostly blue and it’s hotter and more humid than hell.
This last writing spot, my dorm room, is my own more than any of these other writing spots could be, at least temporarily, but if I want a view here, I’ve got to look outside, because the room, as dorm rooms often are, is ugly and bare and in need of TLC and wall repair and paint and anything that might make it kind of homey. I’ve set up shop on top of the built in dresser drawers so I can write standing up, good for my back and convenient for spontaneous dancing. It’s too hot to dance and it’s almost time for dinner and I’ve got to cool down somehow. Here’s to rooms and to views. Here’s to finding a place to write. Here’s to intentional breaks from screens, even when those screens are helping us create something good. Here’s to books. Here’s to the novel. Here’s to loved ones back home who blessed these schemes of ours. All abundance and gratitude.