Tuesday, March 31, 2015

A sense of space: Thoughts on where I write

In a perfect world, I would have a garden shed reminiscent of George Bernard Shaw or a Key West cottage replete with cats like Ernest Hemingway in which to creatively write and do a little divining. Instead, I have our modest-but-comfortable 1927 California-style bungalow in the hills above the flatlands of Oakland's Dimond District, which has been my home since 1999.

While having a huge chunk of time to focus on writing would be great in that perfect world, finding a good rhythm while writing -- and a sense of space -- is something that challenges me all the time.

A winning combo /
My MacBook and a mug of French roast coffee.
Surrounded by the clamor of everyday life, I do most of my writing sitting at our dining room table. It's me and my MacBook. While there may be nothing special to this space which I reconfigure each day -- after all, it's not a dedicated room but a pop-up work space -- I am surrounded by a variety of photographs, artwork and family mementos. Best of all, when I write -- often during the morning hours -- there's always room at the table for a mug of my favorite French roast coffee. And, I usually have my iPhone and the national edition of The New York Times at arm's reach.

Sometimes, when I write, it's tempting to look out the dining room window that faces the cul-de-sac and do a little curative daydreaming while also observing and absorbing the sights and sounds of the neighborhood. I love hearing the noise of chirping birds that visit the big tree outside. Drawing open the dining room curtains just a little bit allows the sun to freely shine in. It's a bonus if there's a gentle breeze, too.

I like to listen to music and create an ambient soundtrack to fit my creative space. If I'm writing on a weekday between nine and noon, chances are good I'm connected via my iPad to the "Morning Becomes Eclectic" program airing on KCRW.com.

While writing can be a sedentary experience, if I need a change of scenery, sometimes, I merely pick up my laptop and move into the living room and take up space either on the sofa facing the fireplace or plop down in my comfortable Ikea Poang chair.

At the end of the day, I pack up my MacBook and set the dining room table for dinner.

Photograph by Michael Dickens © 2014.

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