(The above picture is our family dog Simba)
I think, at some level, I’ve always wanted to be a hyphenate; to become someone who is skillful at many things. I’d like to experience several re-births over the course of my professional life. I’d prefer to not be known for just one thing. Now, I think of myself as a writer-entrepreneur.
One part of this mashup is inherently less social than the other. But it’s nonetheless important to find a place, a home, a method that facilitates my best work in both. From a literary perspective, all of the greats have theirs. Poets and Writers lists a few:
“Conrad Aiken worked at a refectory table in the dining room; Robert Graves wrote in a room furnished only with objects made by hand. Ernest Hemingway wrote standing up; D. H. Lawrence under a tree. William Maxwell preferred “small messy rooms that don’t look out on anything interesting.” Katherine Anne Porter said she got her writing done in the country, where she lived like a hermit. Ben Franklin wrote in the bathtub, Jane Austen amid family life, Marcel Proust in the confines of his bed. Balzac ate an enormous meal at five in the evening, slept till midnight, then got up and wrote at a small desk in his room for sixteen hours straight, fueled by endless cups of coffee. Toni Morrison found refuge in a motel room when her children were small; E. B. White sought it in a cabin on the shore. Due to her problem back, Penelope Lively works in an armchair, with an “ancient electronic typewriter” on her lap, while A. L. Kennedy finds comfort in a “monster black chair” in a room “the color of blood.”
When I’m down South, I’ve found I do my best work in a mostly quiet, spare room, some music (think Nina Simone) and some wine. It helps root me; I feel at ease. I think its necessary to find your “place” your home away from home. Or, if in your home, a place where you feel comfortable and that aids in the creation of your best work. In New York, where I currently live, my preferred work environment varies. In my apartment, I prefer to work in bed with no noise.
I recently finished Susan Cain’s Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. Cain mentions a psychological term called the “sweet spot,” the place where you are optimally stimulated. This place could be a park, a coffee shop, a book store, etc. Your sweet spot may only keep you creatively or professionally fecund at certain points of the day but her larger point is a good one. By finding your sweet spot(s) you are able to “increase satisfaction in every arena of your life.” What’s your place? Your sweet spot?