Saturday, March 26, 2005

The Psychology of Space

In an article in The New York Times Style Magazine Spring 2005 issue from last Sunday, Karen Moline wrote, "I have always written in other people's houses: a flat in London, a cattle station in Australia, a ramshackle guesthouse in Izmir, Turkey. ... My rationale is simple: I need the disorientation of someone else's property, furniture, sheets and gewgaws to escape from mundane reality, to make it easier to inhabit my characters' imaginary worlds." Later in the article, she quotes some other authors, including novelist Francine Prose, who said, "'When I'm surrounded by my things, I can ignore them, but when I'm surrounded by other people's things, they take on a maddening presence.'"

I've been thinking about space a lot and how I seem to write better in some than in others. I'm sure some people would argue that it's all about discipline, that a good writer can write anywhere. But as for finding inspiration or being able to feel more motivated than usual, I'm a writer along Moline's lines. I find it almost impossible to concentrate on work at home. Part of it is that I don't have a good work space, only a small, short desk that can accommodate at most my laptop and a single pen. The TV's blank eye always stares at me. I'm also sort of a neat freak, so I'll find any excuse to sweep, mop, and dust before I have to sit down to work. I've also realized that having high-speed Internet access at home is a mixed blessing.

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