The Newbie Writer’s Podcast – Episode 38
Where do you write?
What does your environment look like? And does that make a difference?
I think it does. Some writers need complete silence, some need coffee houses, music and the sound of the espresso machine (which for me brings back happy memories of mornings in Italy)
I think those of us who like sound, either music or the TV in the back ground or a café, or a noisy library (college, the library is always noisy) Is that they distract our left brain, so our right brain can roam freely and deliver weird stuff to the page.
What kind of environment is perfect for your creativity to just flow? Do you need to be alone? Do you write at the kitchen table in the middle of interruptions? Have you even considered it?
JK Rowlings purportedly wrote in coffee houses because they were heated and her house was not.
Jane Austen wrote in the parlor and cleverly hid her work whenever anyone walked in, I’m sure to postponed the inevitable question, “oh, are you writing about me?” I would not want Jane Austen to write about me.
Stephen king writes under the stairs.
Edith Wharton wrote in bed, dropping the finished pages to the floor for her assistant to gather up and type them up. (It was good to be Edith).
What kinds of things surround you for inspiration?
After years of modifications, I finally have the perfect writing studio at my home in Sonoma County.
The room has three windows that at first overlooked a marvelous sagging chicken coop, but now overlooks the second floor of seven new homes.
I have a broad wood desk with just enough drawers. A collection of inspiration books gather to the left and an odd metal construction my son made in college sits to the right. On the metal figure I pin current inspirational postcards and the Virginia Woolf finger puppet I received as gift when I earned my MA in creative writing.
At the base of my lovely monster monitor sit rocks and small items gathered from my travels, including a dragon from Vietnam and a Faberge egg from Moscow.
I have my pens in a mug from Paris, the mug doubles as the mic stand for during my pod casts.
I noticed all this because in my new house, my writing space is completely bare, and I realized that empty, clean white space is not inspirational.
So I raided my office in Sonoma County to bring up to Nevada County.
I took a bulletin board, striped it of things that no longer inspired (like those plastic mardi gras beads. precious at the time, not so much a month later).
I have two boxes of postcards and inspirational cards of art and travel that I hunted through to find the perfect pictures for the bulletin board.
I found my Dark Wing Duck figurine in the drawer; I took one of my Xena action figures as well.
The conclusion, for me, is that I need to surround myself with an environment of my own creation. Just the computer and a desk do not inspire. Even Starbucks is decorated.
What works for you?
Look around your desk; are there things you love? Things you can replace?
Write the story of one of the items on your desk. And if they don’t have a story, why are they sitting there gathering dust?
Write about where they were found and where they really belong.
Word of the Week
Unfortunately, this useful and effective insult for a stupid person or a blockhead has rather dropped out of use in these mealy-mouthed times.
One of the last excursions for it that I can find is in the classic W C Fields film The Bank Dick of 1940, in which the word occurs in a variant form in the line: “Surely, don’t be a luddie-duddie, don’t be a moon-calf, don’t be a jabbernow, you’re not those, are you?” Before that, it turns up in one of the novels of Hall Caine in 1890, but even by then it seems to have been rather rare.
Most sightings today are in books of weird or unusual words, but I was pleased to to find it not long ago in Henry Mitchell on Gardening, published in 1999: “When I discovered I could grow it here — I like to say any jobbernowl can — I was as pleased as a dog with two tails.”
It’s from old French jobard, from jobe, silly. That word was then added to noll, the top or crown of the head, the noddle. The first sense was of a blocky or stupid-looking head, but was soon extended to refer to the quality of the mind within.
Jobbernowlism is the condition or state of being a jobbernowl, or an act or remark that is especially stupid. I’ve also found an instance of an even greater rarity, jobbnowlry, which appeared in 1985 in Gods of Riverworld by Philip José Farmer: “‘Sheer jobbernowlry, darkest superstition,’ Burton had said.”
Careful how you use it: the recipient might be a subscriber!
Bring out your dead or uncooked work
I had a day off work and was struck with determination. Whilst farming herbs in Terrokar Forest, I demoted the whole guild, bought in leadership ranks. I then went through and kicked all the people who hadn’t been on for 1 month, 2 months, and also any idiot, dimwit or under the age of 15 I could think of, I kicked people who were online too, telling them to mature up and come back later. Down to well under 200 members, could’ve even been fewer than 150 members I’m not entirely sure.
And so came about the leadership ranks. These people were nominated via means of a guild mail I sent out asking for people they thought were fitting. This seemed like a good idea at the time but in hindsight was a popularity contest whereby the leaders for the lower ranks did absolutely nothing.
After nearly two pages of writing we still come back to the initial question: “why the hell would anyone want to run a guild?” It’s a full time job easily up to 4 or 5 hours each night and then all day on the weekends. I think people/members in general seriously underestimate what goes on for a guild leader. Night in, night out, people will become annoyed with something, be it that due to their own lateness, their own slackness, their own arrogance and yet they still don’t make the effort to change or to absorb what goes on around them.
Rachel Thompson and Justin Bog for unleashing a monster. (www.rachelintheoc.com and www.justinbog.com)
Ciara Ballintyne: hope she gets better. www.ciaraballintyne.com
Beth Barany: As she is starting a magazine.