Where We Sit
I will be reading at University of New Orleans on November 3, and I will be at the Texas Book Festival on Saturday, November 5.
Thanks to everyone who came out to say hi to me this year.
If you would like to order a personalized copy of any of my books as a holiday gift, I’m happy to take a ride up to Blue Cypress Books and sign them for you.
During this past summer’s session of #1000wordsofsummer, Christy Lorio, a longtime member of our community (and coincidentally a fellow New Orleanian), wrote a series of flash nonfiction pieces about living with cancer. She has collected them along with photos in a chapbook called Cold Comfort to be published on November 15. You can read more about it here and pre-order it here.
A portion of the proceeds will go directly to support Christy and her family.
I was really honored to learn that the book started as part of our annual project. And so, this week, I wrote a chapter of the 1000 WORDS book in her honor. It was on the topic of, “What are you waiting for?” I am appreciative that Christy and I could be in conversation at this moment. I look forward to reading this book.
If I have not said this enough, I’ll say it just one more time: I am really grateful for this community.
This morning I was thinking about where I sit in my house, and how that impacts my writing.
I live in a small house – a little less than a thousand square feet – on a busy street. There are two front rooms, a long hallway with three rooms off to the side, and one back room. It is a classic shotgun house, designed that way to help promote air circulation in the summer.
If I sit in the front of the house, I can hear traffic going by starting in the morning through the early evening. I can also hear people talking on the street as they pass my house, music coming from cars, and the squeaking sound of the bus stopping every half hour or so on the corner. None of it is particularly distracting, but, for the daylight hours, it is constant.
If I sit in the rear of the house, in my office, facing onto the backyard, I can still hear the traffic, but it’s muted, more like waves crashing. When the weather is nice, I sit with the back door open and I can hear birds chirping and sometimes a neighboring dog barks or a generator or an air conditioning unit starts rumbling. But mostly it’s pretty quiet.
The rear of the house is cooler: it doesn’t get direct sun through the window but for an hour or two a day. This is pleasant in the summer, during the overwhelming New Orleans heat, but not so in the winter, when it gets cooler and damp here. Reverse that for the front of the house, which is sunny all day long, and where I tend to spend more time during the winter months.
In the back of the house, I have a desk which was built for me, high enough so that I can look through the window at my garden and the dog.
In the front of the house, I sit at a long table made of cypress, and it faces a curtained window.
In the back of the house, I feel alone, and I can think, but every so often I catch myself feeling a little isolated.
In the front of the house, I am aware that I am not alone in the world, which is a comfort, a balm, but also I am perhaps too aware of the world to be fully immersed in my work.
My house provides me with everything I need to write, but at no point do I have all of it once. But that’s OK because my needs are always changing anyway. Every day what I need to be a creative and productive person shifts a little bit, either by my own making or because of external forces, but my desire to write remains the same. My focus, my end goal of making my art, remains true and steady. No matter where I sit.
Are you comfortable with where you physically sit when you work? Have you figured out a way to shut out any distracting noises or at least make them work in your favor? How do you situate yourself in your mind? How do you get comfortable enough to be your most creative self?
Have a good week.
You are reading Craft Talk, the home of #1000wordsofsummer and also a weekly newsletter about writing from Jami Attenberg. I’m also on twitter and instagram. I try to answer comments as best I can, which are open to paid subscribers. You can subscribe here or give a gift subscription here. (If you are a teacher let me know, and I will give you a free subscription.) Fifty percent of the proceeds will go to various cultural, educational, and social justice organizations in New Orleans (and sometimes elsewhere). This week’s donation went to Families and Friends of Louisiana’s Incarcerated Children (FFLIC).