My readings–A Year with Aslan–and my writing prompts–The Daily Poet and A Year of Writing Dangerously–led me to consider the importance of space and place when writing. I am not referring to setting within a story or poem, although that is certainly a key element of good writing. I am referring to the space and place of actually writing.
Before going forward, I should define my terms. Space, in this case, is the time set aside for writing. Place is the destination where the writing begins. Although as a poet I am apt to use rhyme, these words appeared appropriately in my readings and prompts. A Year of Writing Dangerously prompted me to consider the “sacred space” of where and when writing happens. Place appeared as Edmund and Lucy entered “their own secret country.”
I admit, I have not protected my space and place for writing well these last few years. My initial intentions are zealous and confident at the reset of each year. They immediately wane if I fail in keeping the routine. Such is the case if I sleep in too late or make household duties a priority or surrender to the invasion of obligations. Recently, I laughed sardonically when my husband said I have been “hiding” more often. As if I could! Once I explained I was writing and not hiding, he understood. Even so, I realized my space and place need to make allowances for my husband and children, for maintaining our home, for getting enough sleep.
How to accomplish this balance? I moved my desk–my grandmother’s secretary where she wrote her own poems–from my dreary, cluttered basement to the front room of our home, lovingly dubbed the living room/library/office/schoolroom. I positioned the furniture so I can turn the chair around to face my desk or the school table depending on the moment’s given task. My children’s favorite chairs–my grandfather’s blue recliner and my glider-rocker once used for lullabies–provide company when all of us need to do our own thing in the same room. I sacrificed one bookcase to house their schoolbooks and personal supplies, giving them each a shelf of their own. My husband retains the basement for his office where he can conduct conference calls and play his music without constant interruption. I have added a weekly dusting and vacuuming of his space to my cleaning schedule for all our sakes.
Once the concrete rearranging was complete, I moved to the more abstract arranging. I created a schedule, dedicating specific hours to reading and writing. My writing becomes portable for coffeehouse escapes with laptop and book-tote in tow. I add my writing prompts to my lesson plans to engage my kids in the process and keep myself on track. I allow myself to deviate if I oversleep or overschedule my day. At that point, the goal is to “make time.”
But, the ultimate desire is to maintain the space and place. Here, I enter with wandering musings and amused wondering of my “own secret country” while keeping the wardrobe door opened.