Do you have a dedicated area for your writing? Where is it? How connected to your regular living environment is your space? It is important for all of us who write to have a “room of our own.” We can define that room anyway we want if it belongs to us, the writers. No one else should claim it. Even if your space consists of an unfinished door propped up by two sawhorses, it must belong to you. When you “enter” your space you leave the outside world and let your body and mind go wandering into your imagination.
What comprises your space? Pencils, pens, laptop? Here are my essentials:
Sticky pads, various sizes
3 x 5 index cards
Pencils, pens, highlighters, erasers, laptop, printer
Notebooks/journals of all sizes
Stapler and paperclips
Bottle of water
What about books? Do you have favorites close by? I have many poetry books: authors, anthologies, literary texts. Dictionaries, thesaurus, poetry manuals. My go-to poetry manuals are the heart-and-soul of my space. For example, I continuously refer to Frances Mays’ The Discovery of Poetry. One is never so accomplished that prosody resources do not matter. I will always want and need all the help I can get. A big part of my bookshelf belongs to the Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics (4th ed). What a gold mine of information. I also love the essays on the simplicity and complexity of poetry. If I am going to write the best I can possibly write, I want to ensure that my word choices, line composition, and overall language presence represents the best I can offer.
When I write about coal mining or whisky drinking or my hometown, it is necessary for me to speak with intelligence, emotion, and persuasion. If I am clear and convincing in my writing, then I can be assured that my readers will not be left wondering.
Now, all of this goes back to the fundamental point of having the necessary space to do the necessary job of giving good writing. I look around my space and in its organized chaos I see the offerings of so many to help me.
How is your space working for you?
Sara M. Robinson, founder of the Lonesome Mountain Pro(s)e Writers’ Workshop, and former Instructor of a course on Contemporary American Poets at UVA-OLLI, is poetry columnist for Southern Writers Magazine and poetry editor for Virginia Literary Journal. In addition to publication in various anthologies, including We Grew Wings and Flew (2014), Scratching Against the Fabric (2015), and Virginia Writer’s Club Centennial Anthology (2017); journals: Loch Raven Review, The Virginia Literary Journal, vox poetica, Jimson Weed, Whisky Advocate, and Poetica, she is poet and author of Love Always, Hobby and Jessie (2009), Two Little Girls in a Wading Pool (2012), A Cruise in Rare Waters (2013), and Stones for Words (2014). Her latest poetry book, Sometimes the Little Town, released in February 2016, was a finalist for the Poetry Society of Virginia’s 2017 Book Award.