Sanctuary: The Right Place to Write

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Pardon the interruption but I’d like to take care of a little bit of house keeping before diving into today’s post.  First of all I am excited about getting two previous posts included in Joel Friedlander’s “Self-publishing Carnival of Indies”  The traffic went through the roof on Jan 29th.  Thank you to all who made a trip over from his site. Secondly I would like to encourage you to take a few seconds to take part in my poll over on the right so that I have a better idea of what types my audience is made up of. Lastly I would like to indulge in a little shameless self-promotion.  I have put both of my eBooks on sale for the month of February.  The price has been reduced to $0.99!  I hope you will consider padding your virtual library with a title or two by yours truly.

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I now return you to your regularly scheduled blog post:

Steve Meitz is a regular reader of my blog (Thanks Steve!). He is one of the few readers that I see face-to-face on a regular basis—on the bus.  He joked that I ought to do a post on the topic of finding the most effective place to write as I sat at the back of the bus stabbing away at the keyboard of my laptop which was literally balanced on top of my lap. Thanks for the idea Steve…

Illustration of man typing on a bus

Before I got my laptop, I was relegated to our (unfinished) basement where we have a CPU and monitor set up on a desk.  There were few distractions down there except for the cold.  It was like writing in a cave with a constant temperature of 58 degrees. No matter the time of day or year, regardless of the weather, it wouldn’t take long for my toes and fingers to get very cold.  With my laptop I have emerged from the basement, but with that comes distraction—TV, interruptions, my son practicing his viola, the lure of the refrigerator, the roar of lawn mowers, etc.

With a laptop I have become untethered. I can write anywhere (for as long as my battery lasts, at which point I guess I could resort to pen and paper), which means my 70-minute commute on bus and subway suddenly became productive time.  Every weekday, I find my usual seat at the rear of the bus and fire up my MacBook Pro.  An endless parade of music (by the Black Keys, OK Go, Spoon, The Shins, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Susan Tedeschi, the Royal Bangs, and many others) delivered via my iPod, helps to insulate me from what is going on and lets me write from within my own little aural cocoon.  The bus is usually not too crowded, but the subway leg of my commute can be a little tight on occasion, especially now with puffy winter coats, but it is still productive time.  I would say that between morning and evening commute I can count on a total average of 90 -100 minutes a week day.

My wife and I have a pipe dream of owning a little getaway tucked into the woods with sweeping mountain views and/or river or lake frontage with a couple acres that would keep neighbors at bay.  Further requirements are it needs to be within a 3-hour drive of our primary residence, have more than one bathroom, and as already mentioned, is on or near water.  Oh yeah, and it has to be affordable.  The affordable part is the real killer.  However we continue to look, and often come across listings with descriptions like “…also has an outbuilding perfect for studio or office.”  My response is always, “Oooh. A place where I can write.”  My fear though is that it would become a place where I would rather relax and therefore not much writing would get done.  The bus however is no retreat, the veiw’s not so great, there’s no internet, and I get plenty accomplished.

So a writer’s sanctuary does not have to be a place of isolation, serenity, and beauty.  In fact, that can be detriment to someone like me who would rather kick back with a gin and tonic or a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon and enjoy the scenery.  We’ve all heard about how J.K. Rowling wrote the first Harry Potter book in a number of Edinburgh cafés after she conceived of the initial idea on a train ride between London and Manchester. For now my sanctuary is a metro bus and subway car twice a day. What’s your sancuary?

“Doors closing. Please stand clear of the doors.”  Rats, I just missed my stop….

illustration by Andy Black

4 comments on “Sanctuary: The Right Place to Write

  1. I’d been writing on the couch. All nice and cozy.

    But, like you said, many distractions. Too many electronics. Kitchen just around the corner.

    So I went to our guest room. We’re so grateful to have it and it’s rarely used… until now.

    It’s become my haven. That is truly a writer’s room.

    Irony: I’m not in it right now.

  2. For me, the right place to write is a place with no internet. I dont need distractions. LOL

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