Will Travel For Words: Upstairs, Downstairs, and All Around Town by Karen A. Chase
Every Sunday I read a column in the New York Times called By The Book where an author is interviewed about their habits. They always ask where they read. Unfortunately, only occasionally do they ask where they write. Personally, I love to see where wordsmithing and creativity mingle. I have a couple spaces of my own. Two or three… Maybe four. Okay, there are several, but I basically divide them into three categories.
I have a room dedicated as “my office,” or my “writing room.” I use the room primarily to write my American Revolutionary novel, so for inspiration the walls are covered with portraits of the presidents, a $4 framed copy of the Declaration of Independence, and plenty of books about 1776. There’s a desk for writing, and a rocking chair for reading that the cats use when I’m not. This was the room that began my love of writing spaces. But it can be cold in the winter, and too hot after three o’clock in the summer, so that is when I move…
The second desk to come into the house is an old roll top that my partner, Ted, used as a kid for making model ships. It has a swivel table attached for a typewriter, and I found and refurbished a 1935 Underwood. I do indeed use that $20 typewriter, for it slows down my thinking when sentences need to be perfected. A second downstairs nest has a French knock-off desk I found at an estate sale for $45. It became the third (and hopefully the last) writing desk in the house. It overlooks the street, and is lit by a knock-off tiffany lamp that warms up a sheepskin bed for whichever of my two cats gets to it first. These spots, like the upstairs, afford me quiet. But a writer in constant solitude will eventually run out of characters, and that’s when I begin to roam…
All Around Town
Thank heavens I live in an age with a plethora of coffee shops, libraries and pubs, and all of them with Wi-Fi. I’m certain I have written in every available space within a 20-minute drive of my house. Recently, my favorite places include the library at the Virginia Historical Society. It surrounds me with reference material and other dedicated researchers who make me feel less lonely. It also has a fantastic view of magnolia trees. The WPA Bakery on my block is one of the sweetest, warmest places on earth, with tiny café tables and friendly staff who help me keep writing with caffeine and gluten-free muffins that I purchase as “office rent”.
Is all that moving around good for a writer? I remember reading Stephen King’s book, On Writing. He said that the spot where you write doesn’t matter–he writes at a desk in the hallway–but what matters is that you write. Agreed. One hundred percent. Regardless of where I sit down, the words must be put down. But I think it’s important to move. Shifting places can shift thinking, and being outside my little world fills the inkwell with new content and ideas so necessary for writers. I also have this little fantasy that one day, there will be little signs all over town that read, “Karen A. Chase wrote her Great American Novel here.” Then, perhaps, another writer will be inspired to travel for words like I do.
For more writing spaces, the Huffington Post published a great article with images.
Where do you write? Tell us about your writing or reading space in the comments.
Karen A. Chase is a regular contributor to Shelf Pleasure, sharing journeys near and far in the pursuit of stories and novels in her monthly feature, Will Travel for Words. She is the author of Bonjour 40: A Paris Travel Log, winner of three Independent Book Publishing Awards for travel and design. She is currently working on an historical novel set during the American Revolution. Follow her on twitter: @KarenAChase.
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