Brown-Wolf: New places to write (column)
On mother’s Day, my husband helped me transform an old shed into a writing space. It has heat and electricity but no running water. It’s also musty, dusty and not insulated well.
Until a fellow writer sent me a link to she-sheds, sheds that women had transformed into personal spaces, I never considered renovating our dilapidated place. However, with three teenagers and their friends coming in and out of the house all summer, I needed a place — a place of my own that was quiet, if not inspirational.
I’m not the kind of writer who demands a breathtaking vista or an ocean view from my window, although I certainly wouldn’t complain if I did. I write on my bed. I write at the table, the kitchen counter and at a small desk in my loft. I write on the couch with my dog. I can tune out people at Starbucks and work well at both cafes and hotel lobbies.
But having a space of my own, where I can go anytime, has shifted my writing process. Because I’m not renting a space, I don’t feel compelled to chain myself to the chair and write, making the best economic use of my time. With a space of my own, I can move and stretch and not look like a cafe freak doing down-dog poses. Here, in my little nook, I can raise my head and not worry about seeing someone I know and getting absorbed into a lengthy conversation. I don’t do laundry or cook or talk on the phone.
I write. Period.
After designing the room with recycled materials, old sheets, tapestries and a rickety dresser, I covered the space with scarves and table clothes that hadn’t been used in a year. I didn’t want a lot of knick-knacks cluttering my 8×10 room, but I wanted a few things.
What I chose was significant to me: a photo of my family, including one of my parents; a pencil holder made of duct-tape by my oldest; a photo and frame made by my youngest; a sculpture of something (I’m not sure what) made by my son; and a photo of old friends. I brought candles and a few crystals, twinkle lights (because everything’s better with twinkle lights) and a framed worksheet that I’d filled out in second grade, reminding me of childhood goals. They can happen. I brought a handful of favorite books about craft and others about writing structure. I wanted a few young adult books to refer to, and of course, I needed my own: “Soul Sunday — A Family’s Guide to Exploring Faith and Teaching Tolerance” to help remind me that completion and publication are possible.
Once everything was set up and in place, I was ready to write. At first, it felt strange, and I had no idea where to begin. For writers, beginnings are difficult, daunting and often avoided. I opened my computer, and then, I sat. I played with a few colorful pens, moved papers to the floor, wrote a few notes, and then, I sat. I changed the music, checked my emails, glanced at my notes, pulled up a few files, and then again, I sat.
My frustration grew. I tried again. Finally, after three and a half hours, I revised a chapter — one lonely chapter. Not a good first day at the she-shed office. However, I tried the next day, reminding myself it takes time to adjust to anything new. New is exciting, challenging and terrifying but hopefully filled with enough positive energy to help a person thrive. Now, a good couple of months into the new space, I’m writing wildly. I look forward to the quiet and let my mind fly with words — not every day, but enough.
It’s summer. Give something new a whirl and see what magic happens.
Carrie Brown-Wolf lives in Silverthorne.
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