My graduating class from Hamline University’s MFAC (Masters of Fine Arts in Creativewritingforchildrenandyoungadults) program, THE FRONT ROW (Maybe you’ve heard of us? We’re pretty famous), is putting on a Blog series this week called “Where I Write,” and due to the glories of peer pressure (the good kind, not the “do drugs and skip school kind”) I’ve decided to join them. I am Day Six.
So, here we are. I haven’t always written. In fact, I didn’t get serious about writing until the day before the deadline to apply to grad school in 2013 (okay, okay, maybe it was the day of). But since then, I’ve spent a lot of time writing.
I wrote my first novel sitting on the couch in the living room, tucked into my corner with the footrest up and a quillow on my lap so I could tuck my feet into the pocket. I wrote early in the morning and late at night, around Carly and Cassidy’s schedules as they came into and out of the house in their last years of high school. This is also where I wrote my packets for grad school and my critical thesis. It was a little difficult to spread out my research materials on the couch, but I made it work. And there is no truth to the rumor that I leaned sideways on top of the papers and took a nap. Not more than twice, I’m sure. Sometimes the couch would eat a book (I found eleven pens down there once!) but it was mostly supportive.
Mandatory Cat Breaks kept me sane—Lola and Isabelle made sure I took time off while I worked, sometimes both at once. Isabelle’s jumping ability has diminished in the last few years, so now at her command I lift her to my lap and down again. Lola makes her own rules and boxes my ears (really! truth here!) if I’m not giving her her due. Bear helps by adding a soundtrack—he takes his sacred duty to chew the ears off any chew toy very seriously.
Speaking of a soundtrack, I don’t have one. No music playing while I work. If one of the girls is home, I might use protective earbuds to keep me from listening to whatever they are watching in the other room when I’m supposed to be writing (If any of my novels sound like Criminal Minds or Bob’s Burgers, this is the reason why). That’s when I play the Somewhere in Time soundtrack or Albert Hurwit’s Symphony Number 1 (I saw a documentary on Spiritual Cinema–he wrote a symphony at age 70 after a lifetime as a physician. Just ‘cause. It’s lovely for writing to), but otherwise it’s pretty silent.
For my second and third novels, I worked almost exclusively at my dining room table. This may be because my computer was already there, since my friend & writing partner Brita often came over to work. Brita sat across from me, eating waffles and creating the most amazing sentences right there at my table while I “worked.”
Currently, I do most of my writing late at night. My writing friend Kate and I text each other—“Are you working? How long? How many words?” while we write in solitude at our own houses as the clock creeps toward midnight and beyond. I actually prefer morning writing (yes! me! even though I am NOT a morning person), and I get a lot done when I can get up and get right to work before the world and social media intervene, but that is rarely possible these days (Okay, it’s possible, but I can’t drag myself out of bed at 5am like some, more dedicated, people). Coffee with cream & Equal fuels my daytime writing, but if I want to sleep any time before 3am I don’t drink any of my heart-thumping rocket fuel after 5pm. I do have a bowl of Hershey’s kisses (holiday colors, of course) on the table in case of emergency.
After I graduated and the packet deadlines disappeared, I knew I needed something more to motivate me. So now we have FRIDAY WRITES, and some of my other classmates join me for writing once a week. Sometimes Jessica is the one writing beautiful words while sitting across from me at my dining room table, sometimes Brita is there too (not in the same chair, obviously, but still writing incredible things), and both Anna and Kate have stopped by as well to write pretty words. We’ve taken our show on the road to Panera a couple times, but I don’t really get anything written there, just as I never got any work done at mandatory “study tables” for my sorority in the “library” during college. Too many distractions.
So that’s where and how I write! You probably didn’t know you needed this information to make you feel better about life, but you do, don’t you?
Just think how good you’ll feel when you go back and read these blogs from THE FRONT ROW:
Monday, Sarah Ahiers
Tuesday, Josh Hammond
Wednesday, Zack Wilson (no relation)
Thursday, Jessica Mattson
Friday, Brita Sandstrom
Saturday (today), ME!
and forward in time:
Sunday, Anna Palmquist Dielschneider