Saturday, January 07, 2017

You are here.





One day, not long after I first arrived in NYC, I was on the subway, and  these two ads by The New School caught my eye.

You are here! The metropolis of "what if"

It was as though all the deities had gathered to remind me I was exactly where I was supposed to be no matter what challenges I was facing (and boy howdy, there were a few!)

I loved these ads so much I called up the New School and asked if they could send me copies. They were glad to.

I had these in my office for a long time. Then, what with a couple office moves, and a lot more books on the shelves, they got packed away.

I found them as I was tidying up at the end of 2016. They still fill me with emotion. I look out my office window on the 22nd floor and think "You ARE here!"

I used to say I loved every single thing about New York City but I loved the rats the least.
[There is now one thing I do NOT love in New York City but it looks like he's moving to DC pretty soon.]

I have the posters back up in my office, just to remind myself of how much I love my city, my job, and every single challenge coming in the new year.

What do you keep on your desk that reminds you of how much you love writing?

52 comments:

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

It's not on my desk, it's on my wall. SILENT ACCOMPLICE was my first op-ed in a daily. I even got paid. Wow.

Published in 1989, when one daughter was a toddler and another an infant, it reminds me daily of why I do what I do.

The gist, to step forward when everyone else steps back, is about how we become silent accomplices to perpetrators, bullies and wrongdoers if we remain silent.
The writing may not have been my best, thirty years ago, but the sentiment and ideas expressed, I wear proudly.

Considering our times, maybe I should resurrect the piece.

Reiders, never forget the power of your words..
Write on friends, write on.

Amy Schaefer said...

I have an old and tattered photocopy from PG Wodehouse's Heavy Weather. The pages I love show the publisher reading the editor's note from a children's magazine, entitled "Uncle Woggly To His Chicks." Being Wodehouse, the regular Uncle Woggly is on holiday, and his replacement's advice to the young flock is hilariously inappropriate in a good-natured way. The publisher's reactions put the seal on the piece.

I keep this piece on the wall because it is spare, has wonderful characterization in few words, and is one of the funniest pieces I know. It always gives me a smile.

Kitty said...

As I look around my desk, I realize there isn't just one thing that says how much I love writing but many things. For starters:
Rodale's thesaurus
Strunk & White's "The Elements of Style"
Elmore Leonard's "10 Rules of Writing" (#8 is my favorite)
the Geek Squad phone number (especially important during a Mercury retrograde)
"The Writer's Digest Character-Naming Sourcebook"

Everywhere I look says I HEART WRITING.

CynthiaMc said...

My writing desk is out in the garden. Out there I keep the cardinals, doves, squirrels, blue jays and butterflies, the hawk (and occasionally the snake). Sadly, we haven't seen or heard the woodpeckers since the hurricane. I still look and listen for them.

On inside days (like today - heck of a storm going on - it's shaking the house), my office is my corner of the couch in the den and my lap desk. There is a book ledge built into the wall where I keep my writing books and sketchbooks. My end table has my works in progress.

On that ledge is a sign that says Explorers Are Never Lost, a tiny bronze-ish mouse with a long tail (meant to be a ring holder), and a small green baby elephant who appears to be having a wonderful time.

The sign reminds me I'm a storyteller and if I keep writing I'll eventually find my way home. The elephant reminds me of my mom saying "You can eat an elephant one bite at a time" (and me saying "Why would you want to?"). The baby elephant is having fun and so should I. The mouse is just cute and it makes me smile. It also reminds me that even mouse-sized steps (as on most workdays) still move the story forward.

Happy Saturday, everyone! Stay safe.

Lisa Bodenheim said...

I have no desk, no office space in my home for writing.

But I have a beautiful dining table. It's next to a window that overlooks my neighbor's red garage, vine-laden tree, and the critters in our backyards. On my table, I have a lamp with a red shade bought at a second hand store, a little porcelain dish--painted with butterflies--to hold pens, pencils, and memory sticks, and a mug rug from my best friend--who, enthusiastically and pointedly reads my writings (my best friend does, not the mug rug, not the dining table).

I light my wood burning candle in the dark of winter and I have two throws, one from my parents, one from my daughter, to wrap up in to keep warm. And I sit next to the heat vent!

Here's thinking of all you Reiders in the southern states that have been promised winter weather. Stay safe. And warm.

William Plante said...

Since 2005 my writing desk has been against a basement wall, a washer and dryer on one side, furnace on the other - no windows. Facing me is a bulletin board with a few words of wisdom. The longest standing note is from 2007?

Who is the main character? What happens to her? What choices does she need to make and what are the consequences? That's the basis for the query letter. Always start with what the book is about. Janet Reid.

Not once has she offered advice on how to do laundry.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

When I started writing, I was a baby kid going to First Communion classes with my mother. We were given pencils and a notebook. I was probably supposed to take notes about church stuff but I figured my mom had my back so I wrote stories about lost wild cats. I think I was 7.

After that, for every Christmas and birthday, I asked for journals, not stupid kissing secret diaries, but journals. I especially loved ones with yellowed parchment pages bound in soft leather. With every penny I could earn raking leaves, stacking hay, washing dogs, whatever I could do, I bought more journals. I have hundreds of them now, neatly boxed and there always at least a half dozen at my writing station wherever that happens to be. And I always keep a journal with me in case I need to write something down.

My friends and I built a tree house in the woods that ran between our neighborhood and the lake back when all this began. I miss the days I could steal away, climb into that tree house and write. When I really get into my head space, I am still out there in the trees. My old Springer Spaniel keeping guard on the ground.

My brother, as little brothers were inclined to do, was determined to steal and reveal my diary when he was about 10 and I was 12. I received a journal from my well-meaning maternal grandmother. It pink with a lock and key. She meant it to be a diary.

I tore off the lock, left it under my pillow as bait. On this first page I wrote "There are no kissing secrets here." My brother read a confession to murder in the pages. He was certain that I had killed someone for about a month or two until he finally told my dad.

It was a splendid 2 months- all the kids of the neighborhood were terrified of me. How my father laughed when my brother finally admitted to stealing my diary, although my dad did try to curtail the number of murder mysteries I was reading at the time.

Anyhow, I always have a journal with me and several old ones at my proverbial tree house with more story ideas than I could ever write in a hundred life times as well as the world of the fantasy I write. Some of them are written in first person. All are fiction but they are all true as well.

Theresa said...

At work, I have my published books displayed on my desk. In my home study, I have the wedding gift from my husband--an old-style ink and pen holder--and a framed pencil drawing of a woman sitting at a table, thinking and dreaming.

Megan V said...

A book signed by Tamora Pierce, with her note of "Be legendary" and the print on a wall that quotes Jodi Hill. It reads:"She wasn't where she had been she wasn't where she was going, but she was on her way."

Susan said...

Hell, this is gorgeous. And it's making me want to cry because sometimes there are words you need to hear--words that speak to the deepest part of your soul--that come from the most unexpected of places.

"You are here."

My God, I needed this today. The weight of my illness, though I'm recovering again, keeps reminding me of all my limitations: I'll never accomplish all I want to accomplish; I'll never reach everyone I want to reach with my words. That's hard to accept, nevermind forgive.

Sometimes I feel like I don't belong here, where the world feels like too much and not enough all in the same breath. Sometimes I wonder how the work is worth it, and if I didn't love it so much--if I didn't believe in it--I might be willing to give it up. I'm talking about writing. I'm talking about so much more.

But these words. These words...

You are here, not just in this physical space.
You are here, not just by accident.
You are here to be a part of the world.
You are here for a purpose.
You are here in this moment.
You are here with this gift.
You are here.
You are here.
You are here.

Stay.

Thank you, Janet. Thank you.

Aline said...

Please hang in there! If you reach one person with your words, which you have, it matters.

Elanor Lawrence said...

I'm writing a novel retelling Shakespeare's play Richard II, so I've got a poster on my wall of when David Tennant played Richard for the Royal Shakespeare Company in 2013. Nothing like Doctor Who glaring down at you for writing motivation...

Julie Weathers said...

Wonder Son #3 is taking me grocery shopping this morning, so I have to bathe and get ready. I will be back to play later, but I had to read a bit while I gulp down some coffee.

I love this sentiment.

Wonder Son #2, he is wonder son for a different reason, is in NYC. Champion Mike Lee drew Dirty Vegas in the first round of bull riding competition last night. Mike and Dirty Vegas scored 86.5 to win earn second in the round. So, rawr Lee and Vegas.

Melanie Sue Bowles said...

My desk is an old farm table. It sits in front of a wall of windows overlooking the pastures here at the sanctuary. And it's huge...over seven feet long. There's room for an array dog beds underneath and three cats up top.

There's also room for one of those V-shaped slanted desktop bookshelf thingys. The one I have is made of wood and very sturdy. I found it in a junque shop years ago. It holds my reference books (Strunk and White and all that) as well as my mother's journals. It also holds a worn and tattered children's book from the early '60's.

Caroline and Her Kettle Named Maud. My older brother read this to me when I was in the hospital with rheumatic fever. I was five years old, and I was thoroughly and completely captivated by this story. It sparked my imagination and ignited my love of books and reading. And it inspired me to write. My brother went off to college shortly thereafter. I began writing him lengthy, somewhat embellished, stories from home. He told our mother I was going to be a writer.

While I earned my living as a firefighter/medic, I am always writing.

Janet: Thank you for sharing your "You are here!" story. And thank you to everyone else who is sharing their own stories. What a joy this community is...

Joseph Snoe said...

I don't have anything on my desks in particular. Mainly stacks of research materials and early drafts.

I love my mechanical pencils, and turning them in my hand makes me happy.

Every so often I'll read something I wrote. It could be part of a published law book, or a published law article, or a recommendation letter, or a response to an email. And realize what I wrote reads a lot better than I thought it did.

And of course good feedback or seeing my writings quoted elsewhere is always good for a giggle and ego boost. And the realization people like my writing and are either entertained or informed by it is a major impetus to continue.

Kregger said...

My reminder is in my backyard where I gaze at it every day.

Crows with their literal and figurative embodiments figure prominently in many of my stories.

The birds themselves are as easy to herd as cats and I rarely get to enjoy their presence around my house.

I inherited a tombstone (long story) from my family when potential buyers of my parent's home objected to the stone and its potential DB beneath it.

I removed the tombstone from my childhood home--leaving whatever may lie beneath--and moved it to my backyard.

Much to the chagrin of family-in-law and friends.

I have since attached a crow weathervane to the top of the sandstone marker.

They are my muse.

And inspire me daily.

Steve Stubbs said...

You are there.

And we’re glad you’re there.

As for The Donald, there is still such a thing as impeachment.

The Right won’t like it, but he may be moving back to NYC sooner than you thnk.

Enjoy your job.

CynthiaMc said...

I love all of your stories and picturing each of you as you write (or agent). Inspiration on a gray Florida day (almost considered illegal here in the Sunshine State).

Janet, you inspired me. What a gorgeous post.

My blog post today has a picture of Inspiration Ledge if anyone wants to see it (also on Twitter).

Carolynn - I just found a copy of a long-ago magazine article I was paid for. Never thought about framing it. I think I will. Thank you. (At least it will keep me from misplacing it.)

MB Owen said...

Taped to my vintage iMac is the comment from an editorial board for my first-ever writing contest. It reads: "Real talent is lurking here."
This is beside the photo of a young Jewish girl with her mouth taped shut.

Also on my desk are stacks of books that have inspired me over the years; from The Elements of Style to The Book Thief to The Turn of the Screw and so many more. Quirky things purchased at country auctions that have special place; trinkets that hold value only to me. Things that inspire and instruct. A box of words. A special pen. Things to help coax that lurking talent into the light of day.

Andrea said...

I have a quote from Ursula Le Guin printed on a background of a barren fantasy landscape and stuck above my computer screen:

"The great and mighty go their way unchecked. All the hope left in the world is in the people of no account." (Tales from Earthsea)

It inspired the working title of my current WIP, a YA fantasy novel: Those of No Account, and it reminds me why I write: to make a peaceful stand against the ever-loud voices of the high and mighty, the powerful and the violent, the greedy, the bullies.

Sharyn Ekbergh said...

This post really made me think all morning. Sorry for the long comment!

My cheap and ugly bought from Staples desk sits in the kitchen. Above it I have three framed pieces. On the left an original painting by my sister of an owl, I loved it so she gave it to me. In the center a carved and painted clock that represents my most beautiful children’s musical. It has two black crows, and an orange owl in a Henri Rousseau inspired landscape. On the right is a pastel drawing I did of The Cat Who Broke My Heart. Further to my right is a chaos of benches littered with jewelry tools and supplies under a large framed Arthur Rackham poster of Alice at the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party. I bought it at a flea market in London when I was very young, in the company of a six foot tall red haired Irish boy who went on to become a minor rock star. I suppose I’m Alice.

Do our writing areas indicate what our writing challenges are? I can’t at this time shut myself off from all The Things That Must Be Done by Sharyn and my desk shows that. We’re shutting down one business (cnc manufacturing) for which I did all the receiving, packing, shipping worldwide and bookkeeping. We are the care givers for two very old people in an apartment we built in our second building next door and I am the only one who can take raw materials and turn them into food. I’m thinking about gearing up my jewelry design business again to help Make Ends Meet. We’ve just turned our video studio into a spectacular airbnb apartment while saving an office for editing for us so we can continue to work part time.

Taking care of elderly relatives makes me think of the frog in hot water story. At some point someone is going to shut the stove off. It’s a continual underlayment of anxiety as the Bigger Person says, “we could be dealing with a whole load of crap very quickly.”

I can’t at this time shut myself off to write. I guess this is why it makes me so happy when I’ve come up with a scene or a good line in the five minutes or so I get to do it.

But I am not complaining. There are so many stories happening all around me.

One of my oldest friends just sent photos from Cuba. He is 72 and has been taken in by a stunning Cuban woman (picture Bo Derek rising from the sea). He has bought a scooter and says he is going to buy an apartment with an ocean view. He says she wants him to help raise her ten year old son. (of course she does says I! ) But hey, he’s happy and he was desperately lonely and now posting grinning photos from a tropical beach. Carl Hiassen, I pass him on to you.

My five minutes are up. Have to vacuum the airbnb, and the house. Bring in firewood and put away the laundry. The cat will not be pleased.

Sharyn Ekbergh said...

To Kregger,
Crows and a tombstone!
love it.

BJ Muntain said...

Honestly? Facebook reminds me I love to write. Every day. I belong to a few writer's groups, and every once in awhile I see a real gem.

Yesterday, I came across this meme, and it made me very happy.

Karen McCoy said...

I have a "writing quotes to live by" page. My favorite is, "Don't try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It's the only thing you have to offer." ~ Barbara Kingsolver

Your quotes also reminded me of the Alicia Keys song that inspired me when I went to my first NYC writer's conference (Backspace 2013). Here is the song.

Elissa M said...

I don't love writing. There are times I even hate it. But I love stories. I love reading them, and I can't help making up my own. So I write.

I write on an old computer desk I've converted to a standing desk. I use a drafting stool when I need to sit. There are piles of things everywhere. Paper. Art supplies. Cartoons about writing. Quotes about creating. CD player. A music stand, clarinet, and saxophone. Bookshelves crammed with tomes about drawing, painting, writing, and horses. (The novels are in every other room of the house.)

No, I don't love writing any more than a sparrow loves flying. I just can't not do it.

Theresa said...

"Where John imagined."

That subway ad is priceless.

Panda in Chief said...

My writing desk is in the loft in my painting studio. It looks out through the high windows at the front of the studio. My desk is a long door set up on slanted supports and is long enough that until recently, held a pillow at one end, for the sweet Mehitabel to sleep and supervise me. About a year ago she could no longer jump up there, and I reluctantly reclaimed the space for working supplies.

Under a large sheet of plexiglass are many pictures of pandas that people have sent me, along with some panda cartoons torn from the New Yorker. On the half wall in front of the desk, I have ideas on post it notes, as well as inspiring visuals by various friends and acquaintences.

I am here.

Amy Johnson said...

What a beautiful post and beautiful comments. E.M., pleeeeeease co-write something with me.

I write at a table against the wall. In the family room. But when I'm writing at three- and four-something in the morning (my best time for writing--oh, baby, I am such a morning person), the room is mine. I admire y'all who have sentimental and encouraging things in your writing space. This post reminded me that for several months last year I had a Bible verse by my keyboard. I'd written it in my best penmanship on a strip of paper. I hope I internalized its message, because I don't know where it got to and can't remember the verse--something about doing what we're supposed to do and not letting anything or anyone get in the way of doing it.

Amongst other things on my table are the current issue of Writer's Digest, an older issue of Writer's Digest. A blue plastic Solo cup with pens and pencils in it. (I recycled the cup.) And a clear container of dog treats my darling daughter left here. It's being clear is important here--the treats appear to be fish skins, and they've been creeping me out for several days. I really should move it. But that would mean touching it. Did I mention it's creeping me out?

Claire Bobrow said...

I don't have a desk. I write at the kitchen table, with a view of the hawthorne tree, the cherry, and the palm.
Tacked on the bulletin board behind me is a quote from John McPhee:

"How do I become a better writer?"
"Just write."
"And then what?"
"Keep writing."
"And then eventually...?"
"You write."
"Until?"
"Until you have written something."
"Then what?"
"You get up out of bed the next morning and write some more."

I am here.

BlancheDuBois said...

I love this post, and those posters. It would be hard to top them, so I won't try.
The "you are here" made me think that, wherever I'm writing, the writing renders it a fine place to be.

But I love the question, too, of what we keep close to keep up inspired, and I've enjoyed reading about the Reiders' writing spaces (Lisa Bodenheim, I could see and feel your space as I read about it, feel those throws around the shoulders. It feels and sounds lovely).

By my writing desk, and on my bathroom mirror, is a quote from Richard Bach:
"A professional writer is an amateur who didn't quit."

In addition to the quote, I have an object that embodies two of the things I love most about writing:
1) research (no, really. I do. The privilege of writing, for me, is about the freedom to explore the wonders of this world, past and present and to keep learning every day).
2) the forging of connections between people; the ways that stories bind us to one another.

The object is about three or four inches long, and made of fabric ribbon. At top, the ribbon forms a rosette, then short colored ribbons hang down from the rosette. It's meant to be pinned to a lapel or shirt. The object was given to me in Italy by a delightful older couple who helped me with the on-site research for my first novel--indeed, without them the novel would have languished. The ribbon is in the colors of their district in Siena. When they gave it to me to pin onto my shirt, I felt like they were saying "you're one of us now."
I'm moved by the privilege writing has granted me, to enter other people's worlds and lives, and learn and share with them.

Even on the worst day of writing, there's nothing else I'd rather be doing.

Janet, thanks for the reminder that daily reminders are important.

Cheryl said...

As soon as I post this the other three tries will show up, I know it.

I have a version of this, beautifully framed, hanging in my office facing the door where I can see it when I leave my bedroom every morning.

It reminds to not just pass by, that I have important things to do in there. I never forget that I love to do it, but sometimes I forget that I don't have a brain-to-Scrivener interface.

Lennon Faris said...

I love hearing about all these Reider places.

I like to think of mine as a dynamic space, aka the dining table between meals. It is the warmest place in the house and, bonus, right next to the food and coffee maker. Once kids get a little older (is there any 'my' in parenthood? I haven't discovered yet) I might get my office back :)

Beth said...

To Susan, Janet, and everyone, you are here, and I'm glad. You make me smile and make me think. When everything around me shouts that I'm a launderer, a cook, a dog door operator, a bookkeeper, an audience, and a poor excuse for a housekeeper, you remind me I'm a writer.

Phyllis E said...

I have a photocopy (very tattered) of a line drawing with the caption "Gone Writing." I liked it so much that I stole the line to use it as the name of my website.

Colin Smith said...

My desk is more theologian than writer, save perhaps for the copies of THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE and ON WRITING that have permanent occupancy in my line of sight. One day, I will have an agent contract, a publisher's acceptance letter, or some other big milestone on display to remind me that I might actually be good enough at this writing thing to produce work people might want to read. For now I have a sticker. It's a small sticker. A cheap sticker. Probably a freebie with a bunch of other stickers with silly or pithy quotes. I kept this one because the message is simple, and yet life-changingly profound. It says:

The only way to do great work
is to love what you do


I believe that with all my heart.

You are there, Janet, and, Lord willing, FirstBorn and I will be there too at the end of the month. Looking forward to it! ;)

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Cynthia, do frame the piece. They are like the first dollar bill stores frame from their first sale. Does'nt matter if it's the first for us or not, they remind us of how we opened the door and made a sale.

mythical one-eyed peace officer said...

In my little "office" at home with a desk against the window that overlooks the street I have a zillion "artifacts" on the walls such that it is referred to as "the museum". It did not begin that way, there was no intention to make it so, but, as they say, things happen.

I only write nonfiction. Memoir stuff. I love to write it, to record, to gently explore, to recall thoughts and things forgotten that are returned to memory by the act of the writing. I've sold some to print publications but most remain unpublished. That does not matter much, I record the stories of childhood, of family and of friends for myself and for my kids.

french sojourn said...


What a wonderful post, and the comments are as usual the stones that give the soup such flavor.

I don't really have a writing table, I usually write lounging on my club chair, or reclined in bed. But for me my most creative area is working the rows of my vines. Each task requires at the minimum, walking 6 rows 900 feet long. Whether it is pruning, attaching this years newly trimmed shoots to the trellis system, and even cutting the grass between the vines a top my old Renault tractor.

It's where I dream up dialog and twists and turns of the story. Outloud, and in different tones trying to get the voice just right. And yes neighboring vignerons have caught me quite often talking to myself with my earbuds playing whatever accompanying music feeds my imagination.

I really enjoyed reading each of your posts today fellow Reiders. Cheers Hank.

Janice Grinyer said...

Since I work and sleep in the woods during USFS contracts, my laptop is my desk- I have three double batteries for my HP envy because "wilderness = no electricity".

Anyhow, I tape all sorts of things to it- coordinates of where I am (emergency stuff), phone numbers, a sweet note from my spouse, and then that one little thing which reminds me why I write-

A well-noted Literary Agent once said "not quite a story, but just lovely writing" about a 100 word or less story I entered into a contest. I printed out that small, signicant-to-me sentence and its now taped to where my fingers rest.

Yeah, JR, that.

:)

Jen said...

As a long-time resident of DC, believe me when I say we'll be MORE than happy to send him back to NYC... ;)

Craig F said...

The office is a Hodge-podge of many things. Blown up photos of various types of flora and fauna, works of watercolors and acrylics, lofting plans old and new. Favorite stare is the old Barque plan.

The writing is something from deep inside though. It is the howling of the wolves Loss and Anguish as they search ways to cross the rivers of Memory.

They are dreams of foreign moons and technologies beyond phones. They are inhumanities I have seen and could not fix.

They are want and wanton.

Bonnie Shaljean said...

In my craft or sullen art
Exercised in the still night
When only the moon rages
And the lovers lie abed
With all their griefs in their arms
I labour by singing light
Not for ambition or bread
Or the strut and trade of charms
On the ivory stages
But for the common wages
Of their most secret heart

Not for the proud man apart
From the raging moon I write
On these spindrift pages
Nor for the towering dead
With their nightingales and psalms
But for the lovers, their arms
Round the griefs of the ages
Who pay no praise or wages
Nor heed my craft or art

- Dylan Thomas

Claire AB. said...

I'm not sure if the things around my desk remind me how much I love writing, but I think they keep my butt in the chair. Maybe that's the same thing, and I haven't given these life tokens enough credit. There are the old family photos (husband and kids, nieces, more nieces, siblings, cousins, parents), my kids' ancient preschool projects (the tissue paper kite, the hand-print flower wishing me Happy Mother's Day, the ceramic tree frog), campaign pins from President Obama's 2008 election, a snow globe with a St Bernard inside of it, and the feather reminding me of an old work colleague who lost her son to cancer. The once-used Pepcid bottle sits under my computer for a reason. So does the half-empty bottle of Aleve. And the pile of manuscripts keeps me my chair, too -- it's spill-over from the stack in the drawer. I'll be adding to it soon, hopefully.

Thanks so much for this post, Janet. And to all of you Reiders for the added inspiration. I've only openly joined this community recently, and I'm so grateful to be a part of it.

MA Hudson said...

I write my dirty drafts in notebooks which are kept on the shelf beside my bed, alongside a small painting by a friend who lives the dream of being an artist, musician, and gardener on the lush north coast. (She makes banana bread from home grown banana's and has resident koala's on her property!) She's one of the only people I know who hasn't upgraded to a 'smart' phone, saying everyone she knows who has one wastes a crazy amount of time on it.
I use the family computer when editing my WIP and I've covered its camera with a ribbon printed with the words; 'I wish to remain curious.'

kdjames.com said...

The stories in these comments are beautiful. Thank you all for sharing, and Janet for asking.

I don't have physical things as reminders of why I love to write. But sometimes, when I forget or when I wonder why I bother, I go back and read the words others have written in response to some piece of writing I've put out in the world. Remembering that I made someone laugh or think or sit on the edge of their seat wanting more, even a simple email from my daughter saying, "You're good at this. Write more." That feedback, the rush of knowing I evoked a response, is like a potent hit from the most addictive drug you could ever imagine.

It's not the reason I write, it's not something I think about while I'm writing. But it is why, once I'm finished, I love having done it.


Julie Weathers said...

When I was in Montana, I got quite a bit of writing done even with it being hectic at times. At the mines, which were in western Montana in the Missoula and Helena area, I could write in a notebook in the morning at the table in the trailer. The men were out working, so it was generally quiet and so remarkably soul renewing. I'd divide my time between writing, poking around old cabin sites, and panning for gold.

I had planned on keeping the property just for a place to retreat to.

These days, my view is a bookcase and mini blinds, but that's all right. I have a very large, heavy old desk I bought from a furniture liquidator who had gotten it from a bank. It's made many a move over the years, but my son said he will not be moving it again. It isn't pretty, but it's solid and wood and it's mine.

Sitting on the back of the desk is a four shelf wooden bookcase. The bottom shelf is for reference and writing books. Dictionaries, thesauri, style books, Make Your Words Work by Provost, etc. The upper three are for research books I'm currently using. There are eight books about old time cowgirls and the rest are for the war between the states.

On the second shelf is also a sparkly, black raven, but I pretend it's a crow and he's telling me to get to work on the Crow. The shelf above has a bronze buffalo separating my western history books from the war books, subtly reminding me a western is calling my name. My bucking horse bronze was too large to fit in the case.

The large bookcase next to the desk is all historical books I'm using except one shelf that has cookbooks and one that is fiction. The other books have been banished to a back bedroom.

On the wall is a large No Parking sign to remind me not to park my butt and do nothing.

Also on the desk aside from the Dune computer and monitor, keyboard, etc are cups with pens and pencils, three cups with brushes, two cups with artists colored pencils and drawing pencils.

I had a picture that admonished me to trust the Lord, and I need to get it back up where it belongs. Now I have a three foot long painting of running horses above the window. I also have a picture of a knight with the words: Fate whispers to the warrior, "You cannot withstand this storm." The warrior whispers back, "I am the storm."

I love that Janet found the place where her soul belongs. I felt like that when I moved to Texas. I'm kind of like a leaf in the wind now missing where I belong and yet loving being around Will and the boys. I need to learn to trust that God has me where he wants me.

Claire Bobrow said...

Beth: I printed out your comment and put it on my bulletin board, right next to John McPhee's.
Exactly how I feel. Thank you :-)

roadkills-r-us said...

E. M., that was amazing. And so beautifully put. You're lucky I'm married or one day you would answer your door to find an old guy standing there with some flowers, asking if you wanted a date.

I want next door neighbors like Kregger. Heck, any of you. You are my tribe.

I write many places. My desk has some photos (people I love are one reason I write), rubbers, a bizarre mix of rubber duckies (I write because the weird wants out), speakers (music makes me want to create), a poster of Spiderman (I always wanted to be a superhero, and writing is a place I become one), and two framed pictures of dragons that friends did (I love dragons and think the world needs more about them- hence my YA fantasy series).

Sometimes I write on my laptop: in a recliner we bought from dear friends who moved away. in which sat numerous spiritual giants in my life; at the table, looking through the window across our large back yard and into the huge lot behind us, as books are one of the ways I explore the world; in coffee shops, surrounded by interesting people, art, and coffee, all of which fuel my writing.

John Davis Frain said...

Such a fantastic post. I imagined myself riding the L from Brooklyn and looking up to read these ads. Such affirmation.

I don't have that in my office. To my left, a bulletin board holds index cards of my current WIP. To my right a mirror bulleting board displays my previous piece that I'm (still!) editing. And on my standup desk is an hourglass. Waiting to be flipped.

I've never been good at keeping things as reminders. Except people. I try to keep them. And while people don't haunt my office, I think they might be the reason I write.

b-Nye said...

Words of encouragement emailrd to me, referring to me as a great writer and a 2009 Christmas card from same source.

Cyn Hayes said...

I wish I had seen this post last weekend—could have used some encouragement. Loved the post, JR! (got kind of emotional).

I'm visualizing each writer in their respective writing spaces where their ideas germinate and flow out into the world. Made me feel as if I'm not alone.

I've been making visual art for many years, and when I moved 3 1/2 years ago, I had to downsize drastically. I let go of a lot, and had planned to sell or donate an L-shaped blue vintage metal office desk.

I visualized sitting in my new space—at a NEW desk—making art. But as it turned out, the big blue desk went with me, then a story idea came out of the "blue" after I moved in, and my first MS was seemingly channeled from that corner of my bungalow. I also always carry a notebook with me for notes in transit.

I recently purchased The Chicago Manual of Style and the Flip Dictionary, which now sits on my desk. Reading all the comments has inspired me to make my writing corner even more special. I wish I had inherited a tombstone!

Thank you all for sharing. My mood has lifted!

Heather Wardell said...

My screen saver is pictures from when I met readers (over twenty times so far) - seeing the people who love my books standing with me makes their support and encouragement so real I can't possibly not love writing.

And I also have a stuffed minion. Because I could use minions. :)