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Where I Write
by Martha Brockenbrough
Back when I spent more time daydreaming about being a writer than writing, I used to want two things: a laptop, and a desk by a window. Within 10 years, I finally had that laptop and a desk by a window—of a very cold basement. This is where I wrote my first books. And it worked pretty darned well, although sometimes my fingers were too cold to move quickly.
In the years since, I’ve moved to my dream office in the attic of my house. My office used to be the maid’s quarters, and had once caught on fire, so the walls and ceiling were painted white to cover the charring. The day I moved into the house, a friend wanted to do a sage smudge to clear out all of the bad energy. I figured it couldn’t hurt, so we did—and when we reached that part of the house, the bundle of sage flared, and my friend said, “Whoa. There’s a lot of anger here.”
I could see why that might be the case. The room was small and the bathroom was like something you’d see in a ’60s horror movie set in a mental hospital. During the summer, the room held the heat of the whole house. In winter, it was freezing. We fixed the space up for me, and this is where I have written for the past few years. I also homeschooled my kids up there for awhile. There’s a couch and a woodstove and the walls are lined with bookshelves.
As much as I love working there, I’ve found that one of my favorite things to do is walk to my neighborhood café and write with friends. We spend a lot of time by ourselves as writers, and it’s sometimes nice to be typing in groups. It’s not for everyone. Sherman Alexie comes into the same café from time to time and gently makes fun of us for the Big Love approach to writing. It works for me, though. We can talk through plot problems. Break for lunch. Set goals and keep each other accountable. Celebrate milestones. Having deep friendships with other writers is something I never dreamed might happen, and it’s become one of the most meaningful parts of this work.
Also? The people at the café know just how I like my drink, and they take great care of me and are proud to support the careers of writers.
Check out the photographic evidence here.