Sunday, September 04, 2005

Mountain Breezes

We are up at the cabin my wife's parents own in Payson, AZ. A lot of people are surprised that about half of the state of Arizona is rugged mountain country. The low country (such as in Phoenix, where I live) is all desert, but the high country is lush and green. It's actually a bit chilly here to me, though probably someone from the northeast wouldn't find it so!

This is a pleasant place to write. There are a couple of rocking chairs out on the front porch that that overlook the woods across the road. I've got a pen and the bound notebook I'm using to write this novel, and that's really all I need. The computer, in this setting, would just get in the way. I do find that I have to consciously relax my grip when writing longhand -- I don't know where I learned to clutch a pen like it was going to flip out of my hand at any moment. Because we are up here isolated from most of my daily life, it's an easy place to be creative. I need a place that is "visually quiet" in order to work. It's not the noise, it's the movement that distracts (and to a certain extent stresses) me. For example, the library at ASU is auditorially very quiet, but the constant movement makes it seem noisy to me. The hazards of deafness, I guess, since finding a visually quiet space is much harder than finding an auditorially quiet place. I can't block the "noise" with headphones and music the way most people can -- and closing my eyes certainly isn't going to let me get much work done!

But this place is nice. I don't think I'd want to move up here because I do need to interact with people and the real world to keep my writing from becoming stale. But if I ever get to a point where I'm on deadline and have a book to finish, this might just be a good place to escape to!

I should note that this "cabin" is pretty much just a house that happens to be in the woods. They've got television, electricity (of course), a DVD player, several rooms, and a full kitchen. My in-laws' idea of "roughing it" means no cable TV. :) When I was younger my friends and I used to hike through the Smokey Mountains in East Tennessee. We usually brought a tent, but that was about the extent of our luxuries. In that case, though, the point of the trip was to hike, not to camp. The fact that we slept on the trail was simply a means to allow us to hike longer. I certainly don't resent the modern conveniences in this cabin!

I thnk the issue of finding a "creative space" is an important one, and one I haven't completely solved at home. I really do prefer the editing capabilities of my computer, but it so restricts where I can write. I have considered getting a digital voice recorder and trying to get the speech recognition working on my computer, but that's not really how I write. I need to see the words on the page. I need to see the interplay of white space and print. I don't really know why, but I do know that is a big part of how I craft my stories. I use the white space to convey meaning just as much as I use the print itself. I wonder if this is true of other writers? Perhaps at some point I'll join a writers' group just to be able to chat about topics like this!

No comments: