Saturday, April 12, 2008

Writing Space

Hemingway writing in Africa

A lot of people at public places not only surf the internet, but also write everything from screenplays to novels. With coffee by their side, the general buzz of the atmosphere around them, often with earbuds helping to create the right mood, they hack out their day's work.

For awhile, I used to take my laptop over to a jazz bar, and get work done over there. I'd have breakfast, knock out some prose, and also fall into a conversation with a varied lot that included a masseuse, a waitress, a police officer, a pianist, and even friends who'd stop by. It was my way of getting out of the house, of walking 2 miles and exercising, then setting up shop. I really loved working there --it was fun. And surprisingly, I got work done.

Last year, my laptop died. Having limited funds, I purchased a desktop, thus guaranteeing my wandering days were over. However, I didn't mind because I'd found that I prefer my little study. I like the resources I have around me. The books I can grab to look up a fact, or find a bit of inspiration from. And like many writers, I also do laundry while I'm hacking away. But often it does feel like I'm chained to my desk, or at the mercy of my cat and dog, which is why I have my little Moleskine book with me everywhere. I write in it, take notes or sometimes jot down entire scenes. Lacking a laptop, my Moleskine has become my own variation of one.

My favorite writer's room is that of Al Martinez, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist from the L.A. Times. It's shaded by large oak trees, and has a view of lush greenery. There are stickers with funny sayings, books upon books, a rolltop desk with pencils, mugs, and at last... his computer. I believe had I looked I even would have found a typewriter. This was a room that was built by a 65+ years of writing. I didn't take any photos. It would have been like me photographing the Pope's boudoir, and somehow, I just couldn't bring myself to do such a thing.

Back in the day of Hemingway and Faulkner, they weren't dependent on either cables, wi-fi, or even electricity. Imagine the little case with the typewriter --no worries about whether or not there'll be an electrical jack nearby, or what would happen if the entire system crashed. Really, if you think of it, not having these worries is a luxury. Anyway, Hemingway wrote everywhere. Here's his place in KeyWest, or in a hotel room with a desk shoved up in front of a door and a mirror. But wherever he was, in whatever space whether small, large, having resources or not, he held to the maxim as evidenced in a letter to F. Scott Fitzgerald: "There is only one thing to do with a novel and that is to go straight on through to the end of the damned thing."

And the same holds true today.

The Guardian ran photos of Writer's rooms. Go ahead, have fun looking at them!