Where do you go, to write? Do you have a sacred space, a ritual, a lucky pen? Do you write notes, letters, shopping lists, ad copy, mathematical equations, stories? Are you starting a blog of your own?
Throughout the years, I’ve mostly written alone in the bedroom – on my bed, with a drink of some kind on the bedside table, and the door closed. Sometimes I’ve written in the library. In college, it was on the cement floor of a dorm basement, with a web of colorful pipes overhead guiding the flow of water. During our year in London, I wrote during my daughter’s naps, with her in the stroller alongside me at Starbucks, or in the middle of Hampstead Heath with green stretching in every direction, or once, I scribbled under an umbrella on a bus stop bench while my daughter leaned her head to the side, protected by a plastic rain flap attached with velcro to the roof of her stroller. Lately, I’m trying out coffee shops in my neighborhood.
I don’t need quiet, but I do need focus. I write with friends occasionally, when they are also motivated to write… when we can avoid the spiral into conversation, criticism, witticism, complaints. When we can hold the space for one another, to write.
I require a beverage, pen, paper and purpose – an open mic, a blog post, a letter, a publication – a latte, lemonade, diet coke, Fat Tire (“yuppie beer” according to my partner’s father, who always stocks it for me when we visit.)
This week, still, the words wouldn’t come. They don’t always.
But this week when I came home from the coffee shop, I asked my daughter to write with me. This was a whole new kind of writing. We agreed that each of us would write a page, draw a picture, and hand it back. We have no timeline, no plans, no structure but this – each of us chooses what happens on the page that is ours – and we have a spiral notebook that we share. So far, we’ve written about a young girl with beautiful hair, who likes to wear it in a long braid off to one side. My daughter takes me in directions I’m unlikely to go on my own.
A high school friend has agreed to write with me, too – a sentence, a paragraph, or a page each day. We’ve hardly been in touch for twenty years. She’s brilliantly creative, and she has sons. There’s no telling what will happen.
The point is to write. I know this because of a book lent to me by another friend – Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott – or because of Natalie Goldberg, or because I’ve been alive in this skin and spirit for forty-two years now and writing is like breath.
But I have questions for you today, and I hope you’ll respond: Where do you write (if you write)? And when?
And whether you write shopping lists, science fiction, math or music – I want to thank you for holding this space with me today. I want to thank you for visiting my blog. For writing me back. For writing. Thank you.