The Pyrenees---Southern France

The Pyrenees---Southern France

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Natalie Goldberg is Un-Decorating My Writing Studio

          Okay, so "studio" is such a stretch of the English language, I haven't seen such elasticity since Silly Putty or the old "Stretch Armstrong" dolls, or the skin under my eyes when I was in my 20's, when I could poke around and the skin would spring back into place.  (Now, the wad of displaced skin just adds to the already-huge bags under my eyes.)

         My proposed "studio" is a room in our unfinished basement.  It's just narrow enough to hold a baby crib (it was our son's room when he was born---was a small room that joined onto our bedroom) and is a bit longer than it is wider.  In other words, it's a small room.

         There is carpeting on the floor (albeit not decent carpeting) and on one wall is a set of whimsical balloon-faces (hand-painted by me, so the whimsy comes from how funny they look due to my lack of artistic ability, not the humorous facial expressions they have).  There is a very utilitarian table, and a couple of floor-to-ceiling bookcases.

           Currently, the room is jam-packed with fabric scraps (from my quilting phase), beads (from my jewelery-making phase), and yarn (from my knitting phase, which I'm still entrenched in).

             I know that clearing out the junk would be liberating, and since our house is extremely small, making it a space that I can write makes sense.  However, Natalie Goldberg said it best in her gem of a book, Writing Down the Bones

                  "If you want a room to write in, just get a room.  Don't make a big production out of it.  If it doesn't leak, has a window, heat in the winter, then put in your desk, bookshelves, a soft chair, and start writing.  Too many people decide they have to paint the walls, then buy wall hangings, a special desk, reupholster a chair, hire a carpenter to build walnut bookshelves, shop for  a superb rug. 'After all, this is my special room.'

                   It becomes another trick to avoid writing..."

              My little room does not leak.  It does not have a window, but that might be a plus in my situation----less distractions for me.  It doesn't have heat, but a space heater would work.  There's no room for a comfy chair, but again, less chance for task avoidance.

            Before I reread Goldberg's book and rethought about what works for me (and remembered how clever I am when it comes to getting off track) I had some questions about this room.  How do I cover up the balloon faces, since this will be a "serious" room with a serious purpose?  How do I arrange and decorate it, so that it beckons me to write?

           I guess the conclusion I came to was this:  I have a couple of paintings from a friend--now dead---which are just done on pieces of old, thin wood.  No fancy mat and frame.   One of them will cover up most of the balloons, and what's sticking out will remind me that just next door in our old bedroom, my son was born...  I have some small things I can put on the already-packed bookcases that will make the space scream "Sioux!"  There is a lovely batik portrait of Barack Obama (which I would love to hang up in our bathroom to tick off  some of my relatives) which has not found a proper spot on a wall yet. Obama could hang out with me as I write and rewrite and cross out.

       I don't need a room that beckons me.  I need a room where I can nail myself in a chair, and write...



  1. You could always get one of those fake window pictures and tack it to a wall. It will give the illusion of a window. Our speech path had one on her wall since her "office" was really a closet.

  2. Hi Sioux! It was so nice to meet you today and have time to talk a little bit. I really like your blog! And I LOVE Natalie Goldberg's books! I especially like this line, "It becomes another trick to avoid writing..." OH, SO TRUE! What is it with us writers?? We WANT to write, yet we think of tons of reasons why we CAN'T! I hope you'll stop by my blog, too!


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