11. Icahn Saelao // mychestisempty
“You never stay in one place for too long, do you?”
I sat there and thought for a minute. It didn’t feel like a thousand years or an eternity, but a full minute; sixty seconds of pure thought.
“No, I don’t.”
She stared at my hands as they pathetically attempted to rub away the imaginary layer of crust that hides the molten red ink underneath. Where others may get that feeling of their heart breaking, I instead resist such an inward pain and I turn it outwards; instead, it is my hands that ache and break. My hands did so again, this time with a magmatic force that caused her ears to crack at the sound of the turmoil her question induced.
It occurred to me that I have never had much of a place to call my own, nor a space that I’m sure a lot of other people could conventionally call a “writing space.” I have moved more times than I would like to admit, and it has gotten to a point where I keep all of my belongings in boxes in anticipation for the next move. At the beginning of autumn, I counted my life in boxes. I never stay in any one space for too long.
I once spent a winter writing in a closet in a friend’s house because it smelled like wet trees after a night of fresh rain; strange how the first time I ever felt “at home” was in someone else’s residence. One day, however, the odor became so thick that it drenched anything that would step foot inside; so just like that, in less than a season, I put my life into a box and moved on. There was a Summer in the last spring, and I wrote on a hidden park bench with her at my side. For a season, I had this feeling that maybe this will last; but Summers always have a way of leaving on their own accord, don’t they?
So what is my writing space?
It isn’t the desk or coffee shop I furiously and frustratingly type at in an attempt to appear vain or profound. My writing space isn’t the room in my childhood home that was taken away from me on Thanksgiving of last year.
I realize I have learned a way to adapt to life and its ephemeral nature, and even though there is no literal space where I can sit, think, and write, I know my writing space will always be with me. I can proudly say that I take my writing space with me wherever I go, and it isn’t even the forty-three dollar pen I bought or any one of my three black spiral-bound notebooks; I do not carry nor sit in my writing space.
I wear it.
This is my writing space.
4:35 pm • 16 October 2012 • 13 notes
10. Kelsey Ipsen // felimnn
When I first saw Writing Spaces I began wondering what my own space was. I didn’t think I had one anymore. I used to have an old school desk, the wooden one where you can open the lid and store things inside. We had them at my country school when I was six, my friends and I used to catch those white cabbage moths between cupped hands and keep them inside. Every time we opened our desk lids, the flutter of wings. I remember, then, a teacher asking us to write down what we thought the Bermuda Triangle was, and I began writing an entire chapter book about a curious blue triangle that children would pick up and disappear into different worlds. I remember being upset because the rest of the class had written a sentence and the teacher had told everyone what the Bermuda Triangle really was and we all had to move on before I had even scribbled down two pages of my epic novel. I wanted to create my own worlds. I had read about so many in books I’d taken in piles underneath the flower bushes below my first bedroom window.
When I got my very own desk in my room I immediately began to gather trinkets, glass cases, old satin flower pictures in golden frames, animal masks, genie lamps, a typewriter. Inside the desk I kept my pages of writing folded up like butterfly wings. I rearranged my treasures all the time, trying to create even a part of my inside world that I could touch and see on the outside. I had stopped beginning my epic novels about Bermuda Triangles, dolphins and cakes, I had stopped scribbling my teenage poetry and fantasy stories and had begun writing secret prose about a boy across the ocean who I couldn’t be with. I’d always been secretive about my writing, a world I felt I couldn’t explain properly yet so I needed to keep it to myself and allow it to grow. When I got my Macbook,it was the perfect match; the hidden paper butterflies could always fly away but with my Macbook they were safe and shut in.
I started publishing things on my Tumblr page. I wanted to be braver. I wanted to be brave enough to share my own world and brave enough to be the girl I was when I wrote. I collected my words and treasures around me to remind myself. I wanted to be Matilda from The Ghost’s Child and sail away across the oceans to find my bird. And I did, in a way. I began to feel suffocated by everything, like maybe I’d keep writing and piling up things until I’d never actually do. So I left all my treasures behind and the desk all empty of papery moths and moved to France. Now I’m with my bird and my books and I guess it’s just these things, the bare yet favorite essentials, that have become my writing space. It’s made me lighter, freer. I can feel it in how and why I write these days. With so much distance between myself and my former real world, I’ve been turning my old haunts into only words and finding ways to be my own world without the tricks and trinkets to surround it. Here I am now, and here I can finally be.
4:28 pm • 7 August 2012 • 25 notes
9. Isobel Frances May // shimmery
When I write, it’s normally dark. I’m talking about the sky rather than the subject matter, though you can perhaps feel the blackness of night in the words; see it amongst them the way you might see a red nose on somebody who’s just been crying. Day lights up reality and defeats fictions, but darkness gives thoughts mobility. I don’t have proper curtains in my bedroom; only lace ones. When I sit up in the early hours, ideas of the night become intrigued by this one electrically lit place. I leave my window open so they may come in. The darkness is an unknown between days. I write as I travel through it in same the way I write on trains. Between places, with no fixed destination, ideas are unrestrained and free. I’m lucky because I don’t get motion sickness.
I can’t have magazine subscriptions because I have no fixed address. The longest time I’ll stay in any place is, for the foreseeable future, ten months. I mustn’t give the wrong impression of myself as a well-travelled writer: I’m limited to two cities, 160 miles apart (though I recently spent a week by the sea). These photographs show my bedroom at my mother’s house. The walls are coloured blossom white, I painted them myself. When I move south in the autumn this room belongs to my sister, and she decorates it by sticking her certificates on the walls beside my favourite poems. It is a shared space; I write from in-betweens once more.
People tell me a lot to write what I know. There are certain things I have written that are not exactly about me, but which I feel define me. Those things are somewhat like theme tunes. If I close my eyes and say the first lines to myself, I am briefly aware of who I am. Last February I compiled these things into a series of letters to make a collection. I recently reread this and had a moment of crisis where I realised I could never write anything more that I knew. Those 1000 words said everything.
Now, I write about things that nobody knows, but I write about them with my reflection. Writing has always been a little egotistical, after all. I find if you write before a mirror and you’re lost for the next word, you can sometimes look up and see it in your face. In this way, you may write something you’ve never experienced whilst remaining true to yourself. I think it gives your writing a definite sense of identity; a disguise of certainty that makes the world you have dreamt up appear built on knowledge.
Sometimes, I write when darkness has just left, in the early morning when white light hangs in the lace of my curtain. At the best of times, ideas of the night are still present, quiet and sure of themselves. It is these ideas, unshy of the light, that I share.
4:20 pm • 3 August 2012 • 4 notes
8. Thea Tracanna // tat714
If I had to break down my favorite place, my writing space, into just one word, it would be a color: maroon. It’s represented everywhere, from the big plush chairs, to the back wall, the counter tops, and even the felt covering all five pool tables. The basic essence of the Basement Brewhaus at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point: a dark purple-red that is visible no matter which direction a patron is sitting, lounging, or standing in line as they wait for their daily dose of caffeine (or three). Even the maroon shirts of the baristas, one of the most coveted work positions on campus, radiate a vibe of warmth and comfort. The bhaus, as it has been affectionately named by its regular crowd, rounds out its laid-back setting with mellow music flowing from Pandora 24/7 – unless one of the baristas is feeling late 90s pop or 80s classic rock. This change occurs most commonly on Thursday nights, when a decent percentage of campus’s over-21 crowd descends to unwind and kick back dollar bottles of popular domestic beers.
“Illigitimis Non Carborundum” gleams down from the room’s entrance way. This UWSP staple commands, “Don’t let the bastards bring you down.” There are no public TVs or computers located in the space, and soliciting in verbal, pamphlet, or poster form is strictly forbidden. However, there are ample amounts of gossip, news, and nature magazines to read from, and taking a board game (guaranteed to be missing at least two pieces) off the shelf to play with friends goes unnoticed. But the second someone starts playing Youtube videos, Skyping, or even talking too loudly on their phone, dark looks and mutters of disapproval will likely be directed their way.
At any given time, there can be up to eight people fully stretched out sleeping, plus the ones simply reclined and dozing between reading assignments. The bhaus becomes a haven from the non-stop rush of college life, where a forty-minute lunch break between classes magically stretches into enough time for half a dozen activities, including the aforementioned nap.
I was not always an ordinary customer. For my final (and best) year of college, I was lucky enough to be one of thirteen baristas perfecting my milk-steaming abilities, rattling off beer specials, and knowing certain regulars’ exact drink specifications without ever knowing their names. It has been over fourteen months since the end of my employment, and it took all that time for me to reconcile that I would never again be the only person there at 7am on a Saturday, the comforting motions of brewing coffee and turning on lamps waking me up to tend to the weekend’s early birds. Much more often I was the weekday and night closer (I’m terrible in the morning, really) – instead of being the one starting fresh and new, I was the one shutting down and cleaning up messes. Stocking shelves, wiping down tables, and kicking people out, all the while singing along to Disney songs. Content with my basement fortress and making everything look pristine again.
So what does all of this have to do with writing? I have been graced with the gift of memory. I remember vividly what it feels like to be covered in coffee grounds and sticky beer, sometimes every day for a week. I remember the night there was a concert upstairs given by some blind rapper and Justin (my coworker) and I cleaned out the entire beer cooler, each making forty dollars in tips in less than three hours. I remember frustrated coworkers who left reprimanding notes everywhere, and every time we ran out of sweet chai during that never ending winter. The Brewhaus is more than my writing space; it is my writing inspiration. I go back there now, and everything hits me again. Some of it gets filtered through time, becoming more bittersweet or perfect in my head. Other memories stay just as sharp and clear as ever, bringing a sad smile to my lips as I lose myself for a second and let the moments wash over me. There is no place on earth like it, not for me. And I think what I’ve learned the most looking back over the past three years, but especially during that one year right in the middle – I wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else.
6:30 pm • 25 July 2012 • 5 notes
7. Melissa Dominic // darkmachines
I wish I could say I didn’t concern myself with the place I create in,
but, I’d be lying if I did.
My bedroom is the space I write in and I’ve cultivated the entire area with the patience of a museum curator. It’s daunting and I tell myself I don’t have enough writing to show for all the work I actually get done, but, I’ve always been a person obsessed with setting and world building, so, it makes sense to me. I’m a creature of routine and over-organization and that shows as well (and is often coming unglued from the wall in the form of dry erase boards denting from the tiled floor). It’s a bit cluttered, but I like it though. It’s the tiny cottage of my life and the place I feel most comfortable. I think it’s important.
My favourite place to write is my bed and maybe it is because the ideas float around better when I’m half asleep, mostly covered by bed sheets and I’ve lost my glasses under the pillows around me. But my most productive writing comes from the craft table I’ve set up as a secondary desk because the original desk across the room doesn’t have enough room with the large speakers and candles and lamps and pump bottles of hand lotion taking up all the space. I have an obsession with keeping the things I love close at hand: a photograph of me and my girlfriend, the scarf from my first soccer game, all three hundred plus of my books, my Iron Man headphones, neon sneakers and the Napoli soccer jersey I keep artfully hanging off the closet door to remind me of what I am trying to do (and what I am trying to do involves writing a story about soccer and music and cities that can’t die, not just yet). There are tiny things everywhere, taking up every free inch. But nothing about it feels cluttered to me.
I don’t pretend that I need all this stuff to get anything done though. I know better than that. Really, to write, all I need is either my netbook or my notebook and maybe something playing low in the background. I could be anywhere, outdoors or inside, in transit or killing time while waiting around. Stories come from thoughts and effort, not positions in the world or items around you…
But, I’d really prefer it if I could bring everything else along with me too. You know. Just for good luck. Or good measure.
Something like that.
6:45 pm • 23 July 2012 • 13 notes