A quiet place to write

I’m on a deadline. Truth be told, I’m way past said deadline. So past it that the next one is looming on the horizon. The blogging schedule is prepared well in advance so it’s not as though I don’t know ahead of time that I have these due dates. Yet every month, I find myself scrambling at the last minute to put words on the page in a coherent manner, to find something to say that is interesting enough to persuade a total stranger to take a few minutes out of their busy day to read it.

I envy those bloggers out there who manage to do this day in and day out.  It’s far from easy.  There are days when the 750 or so words come flowing out quickly and other times it… is… painfully…slow, waiting for random words to coalesce and form sentences.

If only I had a place to write.  A dedicated place to sit quietly and gather my thoughts.  I tell myself that would make writing easier.  When I was in college, I had a bedroom with a desk built into a dormer window, where in the quiet of the evening, I taped my various note cards to the surrounding walls, “cutting and pasting” the words and paragraphs until I had a decent essay, handwritten and then typed on an old fashioned manual typewriter, calmly and thoughtfully, uninterrupted by the outside world.

Life certainly isn’t like that now. The usual scenario these days is me typing furiously on my laptop, precariously balanced on top of the piles of my kitchen counter debris while chopping vegetables and stirring pots. The phone rings, people text.  The dog needs to go out. Or I find myself scribbling sentences on the backs of receipts, while I am out and about, or I send snippets to myself as an email. I’ve even been known to record what I think is the world’s greatest sentence in a barely awake moment at 4am only to discover how illegible and therefore useless it is in the light of day. If only I had a place to write.

I found the perfect spot last fall, a space I fell completely in love with. After a long morning of walking around Paris with my daughter in the sweltering heat, we popped into the dark and crowded Shakespeare & Company. Princeton Public Library is bordered by Sylvia Beach Way, named after the founder of the bookstore so it seemed only fitting that I pay a visit. What a find! An old building, chock full of nooks and crannies, uneven floors, wooden beams, and books galore – heaven for a booklover – and for this librarian!  At the back of the store was s a steep narrow staircase, leading up to the second floor which had the look of a living room.  Just at the top of the stairs, enclosed, snug, notes pinned on the walls, and a beautiful old fashioned typewriter on the desk, was a place dedicated to writing. I just wanted to plop myself down and at least write a postcard. But we had things to do so we couldn’t stay for nearly long enough.

And so here I am tonight.  The furnace died over the weekend so it’s 51 degrees in the house. The fireplace is roaring and my chair is pulled up within a foot of the hearth and I’m making progress. I just might make that deadline after all.

Photo courtesy of the author.

Blog post by Gayle Stratton.

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