Sacred Writing Spaces

I know many writers who are quite content to write in coffee shops and diners, and between their kids’ dental appointments and soccer games. I know a few who can write on the bus, subway, or in between meetings. I am in awe of them. I’ve tried writing outside the home and it doesn’t work for me. The inevitability of major distraction is a fact: I need a sacred writing space.

I recently read two blog posts written by male writers, who said that the idea of a sacred writing space is pure hogwash, ridiciculous. I disagree, and I’m not a diva, thank you very much. The only sounds and images I want to hear and see whilst writing must come from my imagination; directly from my story and characters. How can I hear what my heroine is saying amidst singing baristas, crying babies, and people who can’t seem to speak in low tones in small spaces? And that’s just inside. Add to that, sirens or disgruntled drivers honking car horns. I can’t, but I’ve sure tried because sometimes I need human interaction as much as the next writer.

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Here’s what happened the last time I tried to write at one of my favorite coffee shops on a cool summer morning. I sat at my favorite table, plugged in my laptop and began to work on a chapter of my WIP. I was the only customer for an hour until a man entered the coffee shop wearing a trench coat on a summer day. Yeah, a trenchcoat. Like in the movies. He mumbled something to the owner and I began to panic, looking for the nearest exit, which was behind me. As far as I saw, he didn’t buy a thing, and when he left, I asked the owner what he’d wanted. The man was looking for work, she said. I breathed a sigh of relief, and sat back down, irritated at myself for being afraid. Then, I remembered all the shootings and bombings around the world and gave myself a break. I tried to figure out how I could add the man to a short story I’m working on, and then remembered I was there to work on an important chapter in my work in progress, a novel.

Fifteen minutes later, I became irritated by a young woman who yanked a crying toddler off the floor by his arm. Memories flooded in to when as a young mother I’d dislocating my young daughter’s elbow by pulling her up by the arm as she stepped off the curb, deadset in crossing the street alone. God, I’m so glad my kids are grown! That incident was followed by watching a woman sitting outside feeding her tiny puppy bits of an Everything bagel, and wondering why she’d do that. None of my business, I know, but I am a people watcher. I watch!

When I’m writing, I must live as a cloistered nun, sequestered from the world in a convent atop a Himalayan mountain.

I need the solitude, tranquility offered by nature while still feeling part of the world, without the crowds. It’s fortunate I live alone, so no one is bothered by my late night/early morning writing binges, which is the best time to write as far as I’m concerned. There are few cars on the road, and the only sounds I hear are the click clack of the keyboard, early morning birdsong, and the distant sound of freight trains whizzing past. Heaven.

Alone with stacks of books, notebooks, myriad stray pieces of paper with scribbled notes and quotes, a dictionary, and a thesauraus that litter my oak dining room table turned writing desk, I’m in nirvana. At this moment, there are two empty coffee cups (one from yesterday), one water glass, hand lotion, a small lamp, Chapstick, an ashtray, photos of my kids, assorted pens, pencils, and highlighters, and my cell phone, which is on mute. That’s how I like it. Oh, and a chopstick to put up my hair.

Christmas 2013 012

Last holiday season when gifts, Christmas cards, and rolls of wrapping paper took over the dining room table, I was forced to write upstairs in my bedroom–the coldest room in the house. Most days, I wrote in bed with a cold nose and a toasty body under two down comforters. The following Spring, I moved back to the dining room with a view of the garden, and by summer’s end, I’d finished the draft manuscript of my first book at my river lot on the West Virginia side of the Potomac River. With no Internet, TV, and only one radio station out there, it was perfect tranquility and silence during the week with a river view I adored. Weekends brought the ‘crazies’, the loud party people, who I tried to avoid unless family or friends were visiting. Then, of course, we joined in the merrymaking. By the following autumn, I was writing at the dining room table again.

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I’ve since sold the river property, and my dining table has become my #1 sacred writing spot. Christmas 2017 will find me wrapping presents on the living room floor–I’m not moving all that stuff again. I happily write at the cluttered dining room table/writing desk, situated right smack in the middle of my house where I can easily get to the front door to receive packages from Amazon (books, of course). I have a beautiful view of my garden from two windows, and in ten steps, I’m at the kitchen. When I hit the lottery, I’m having a bathroom installed downstairs because as it it now, the only bathroom is upstairs and that’s a major pain. But…as it turns out, besides gardening, climbing the steep staircase of my old house is a good workout since I write for many, many hours on end.

So, if you come for dinner, my writing gear will be safely tucked into two French wicker market baskets, which I’ll hide in the armoire. You’ll never see my clutter as we wine and dine, and I’m a good cook. But I can’t promise I won’t bore you to tears talking about writing, or the book I just finished, or about my new story, book #2, and my awesome new characters.

ABOUT ELEANOR PARKER SAPIA

ellie

Award winning novelist, Eleanor Parker Sapia, was born in Puerto Rico and raised in the United States, Puerto Rico, and Europe. Eleanor’s career paths as an artist, counselor, alternative health practitioner, Spanish language family support worker and refugee case worker, continue to inspire her stories.

Eleanor’s debut novel, ‘A Decent Woman, set in turn of the nineteenth century Puerto Rico, is published by Sixth Street River Press. The book is a finalist for Best Historical Fiction, English, in the 2016 International Latino Book Awards with Latino Literacy Now, and was selected as Book of the Month by Las Comadres and Friends National Latino Book Club. Eleanor is featured in the award-winning anthology, ‘Latina Authors and Their Muses’, edited by Mayra Calvani.

When not writing, Eleanor loves facilitating creativity groups, reading, gardening, and tells herself she is making plans to walk El Camino de Santiago de Compostela a second time. She adores her two adult children and currently lives in West Virginia, where she is at work on her second novel, ‘The Laments of Sister Maria Inmaculada’ and thinking about the sequel to ‘A Decent Woman’ titled, ‘Mistress of Coffee’.

http://amzn.to/1X0qFvK

 

 

 

 

 

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Eleanor Parker Sapia

Puerto Rican-born, Eleanor Parker Sapia is the author of the award-winning, historical novel, A DECENT WOMAN, published by Sixth Street River Press. The book is a Finalist in the 2016 International Latino Book Award with Latino Literacy Now, and was Book of the Month with Las Comadres and Friends National Latino Book Club. She is featured in the award-winning anthology, Latino Authors and Their Muses, edited by Mayra Calvani. Eleanor is a writer, artist, photographer, and blogger, who is never without a pen, notebook, and her camera. Her wonderful adult children are doing wonderful things in the world, which allows Eleanor the blessing of writing full time. http://amzn.to/1X0qFvK Please visit Eleanor at her website: http://www.eleanorparkersapia.com

14 thoughts on “Sacred Writing Spaces”

  1. I also have a hard time with unchosen noise, Eleanor. Music and droning TV voices are fine with me. One day I won’t be working and can check off subways- both train and platform, work office at lunch time for drafts, and any where and anyplace as a sacred writing space. Until then- oh well! Soothing post!

    1. Hi Theresa! Thanks for your visit and generous comments. “Unchosen noise”, love that and so true! When the mood strikes, I enjoy listening to soft instrumental music of the era I’m writing about, which often help get me in the mood. I applaud your concentration and grit toward writing wherever you can. Here’s hoping for an early retirement. I highly recommend it. 🙂 x

    1. Hi Jan! Thanks for your visit and the smile! British murder mysteries, huh? That’s awesome 🙂 I haven’t had cable or local television for six years, definitely couldn’t edit or write while watching anything on Netflix. I wasn’t blessed with those concentration skills! Happy writing. x

  2. Reblogged this on mira prabhu and commented:
    I started serious writing out of sheer desperation! I was freelancing in Manhattan at the time, and my boss was involved in negotiating a multi-million dollar merger. He was never around and I was bored to tears. So I began to write…and write…and write….HR knew what I was up to and one manager used to ask me – have you finished a chapter I can read? They gave me a long rope because they knew I did not compromise on the quality of my regular work…and perhaps because they admired someone who could actually dive into serious creative production in the midst of a busy investment firm…oh, and by the way, this was in the World Trade Center! I think of Dostoevsky, for instance, who wrote desperately in his jail cell, hoping to make enough to pay off his creditors…so some of us can write anywhere. That said, other writers need to be ensconced in their nest before they can write…different strokes for different folks is what it is – thank you Eleanor Parker Sapia and Sally Cronin, for pointing me to this interesting post…

    1. Hi Mira! Thanks for your visit and kind words. What a great story of sheer determination, balance, and creativity. Kudos to you and to HR! So I must ask 🙂 Did you finish the book?

      Now…if I were in jail, I’d write against all the odds; on the walls, on napkins, the sheets, anywhere I could! For now, my nest is where you’ll find me. I’ll be by for a visit to your blog soon. Happy writing to you, Mira. Thanks for sharing. x

  3. Ohhh, I enjoyed this. Because we are writers, we are people watchers. AND we have huge imaginations, so when ‘strange’ men come into a coffee shop and leave with nothing, we create a thriller, or a mystery, or even a horror story. And when a woman pulls the arm of her child, we reminisce, and think of our parenting, and we begin to write a memoir. 🙂 I’m with you, well, NOT with you. I’m writing in my own quiet little writing space in my own quiet little home.

  4. Today flew into Toronto from London and thought I might try writing using my brand-new MacbookPro laptop. It’s a sort of experiment because I prefer the quiet and controlled environment of my home office. Opened computer on the little table they give you for meal times. Try working in the space available in Economy in most airlines. Then come to see me in my role as massage therapist, and I’ll treat you for the resulting, almost instantaneous, repetitive strain injuries you’ll experience. Now, traveling in First-Class in one of those pods that they give you is a great option. One can always dream.

    1. I hear you, Tim! I’ve tried writing on my laptop on Economy flights and no. Just no. It doesn’t work with restricted elbow room, and I usually get the person who reads over my shoulder as I write 🙂 Yes, to first class one day; there is always hope. Thanks for your kind visit and comments. Nice to meet you and happy writing to you.

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