I write everywhere. I’m sure there’s a cliché about the world and oysters or somesuch that would serve here. But it’s a little more Ecclesiastes and Lennon: to each its time and place. I began this post in longhand, in the pages of a college ruled, $2 composition book covered in homemade collage, in a coffee shop I rarely frequent, a pit stop on a day of errands. I’m typing it in another spot, normally a quick step from my front door; today, a fording of streetwater. I like that extra layer for the writing of it.
I keep this workbook for capturing the stray lines, and it’s a good practice; as a younger woman, I wrote up the skin of my arm when all I had was a pen, and the lines were threatening to leave me. A good notebook is that bit of grooming that makes a writer more palatable to the general public: if you wear your hair in disarray, add mascara and a good pair of earrings. I use it to accompany me as I play again in _The Practice of Poetry_, hopping from exercise to activity and allowing for nonchalance. It has word lists and observations and scratches. In its short life, this notebook has availed itself in front of a lakeside fire; in a commuter train from Los Angeles to San Diego; on several wooden tables; by living room and bedroom floor; and beachside in Monterey. It’s a dreamcatcher of sorts. A place for mixing clay. A home of first drafts, inciting incidents and scraps. It likes new and novel places.
But paper is never enough. Poems like to occupy the room. When it’s really time to write them, I need to be alone. Dim the lights and cue the music. A love scene from heartbreak film. That’s what poems like. To be read aloud in full body, over and over. Essays are easier. I still need a known environment, but prose doesn’t so much mind the company.
Either, way, the real writing, the craft of it, necessitates a keyboard and screen. Electricity. I type at a speed closer to thought and quick commands allow me to experiment with organization (ctrl+x, ctrl+v, ctrl+z+z+z). I fixate on a word or line break. A bit of punctuation. Even these short essays – the rhythm of the words as they run together – it could consume me. I cup my hands around my mouth and read aloud in a low voice, hoping only I can hear it, or at least, that the other artsy folk recognize the compulsion. At a certain point, I have to let go, change focus, if I can. Because the whole space of my life is used for writing, there’s no real walking away.
TL;DR – I plant in color and noise and contrast, a vast mess of words. Cultivate in a still, silent place and along the familiar and the margins of my life. And harvest? That’s up to the reader.