This week’s writing challenge from WordPress is ‘practice your powers of observation. Take any person, place, or event, and write three paragraphs describing your subject in great detail.’ http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/01/21/writing-challenge-details/
One of the suggestions is to describe your writing space. ‘Describe your writing space. Do you write on the couch? At the kitchen table? At a desk? In a restaurant? Describe your surroundings. What does it smell like? What is the light like in your space? What can you hear, feel, and see? You have three paragraphs to pull us into your space. Go.’
I’m determined to meet my personal deadline of having my novel finished and published online by late March. The downside of such a goal is that my writing space has expanded and now encompasses most of the flat surfaces in the living area of my two room cottage. On the coffee table in front of the couch is a random collection of notes and index cards. Looking over at it now I realise the pile has been there so long it has become part of the decor. A packet of tissues now rests on top it. Beneath the table there is large plastic bin filled with pages rejected from now defunct story drafts. Beside the bin are the sandals I took off last night after I got back from a walk on the beach. A smattering of sand still adheres to the soles. Particles have spread across the zebra patterned rug on the floor.
In a little alcove my breakfast table is illuminated by golden rays of early morning sunlight. Well, it’s really a folding picnic table and has a unpleasant vinyl smell to it. I’m pretending it’s an indoor table as I haven’t been able find a proper table small enough to fit the space. On top of the table sit the pages I wrote this morning and plan to type up later today. These are surrounded by a muddle of pens and an open pencil case. (I like writing in different coloured felt tip pens – it helps me get a flow going). Stuck on the bamboo blind hanging over the nearby window are handwritten notes I’ve pinned up to inspire me. One, written in magenta felt tip pen reads, ‘writing flows when there is an urge to say something’. I can’t remember where I found the quote but I find it useful to remind myself that getting stuck and writing total crap is usually a sign that I need to have rethink and figure out just what it is I’m trying to say. The other two are more detailed and written in smaller, more discrete text. They concern the ‘how to’ of writing. One is about the overall theme of the book and the other is about character development. I haven’t read them in weeks but their presence affirms the goals I have set for myself.
The actual process of writing the text that will published takes place on the laptop on my computer desk. At present it is surrounded by a print out of the manuscript to date. The chapter I’m working on is propped up in this nifty device I found in a second hand store. I think it is actually a metal stand made to hold paper napkins but it works well as a display rack. Elsewhere on the desk are the USB’s sticks I use to back up my files, an MP3 player and headphones, bills I need to pay via internet banking and a coffee cup. There is a pervasive smell of coffee in the room as it is early morning. The smell has nagged at me while I’ve been writing this. It’s time I made another cup, sorted out some of these notes, tidied the larger room and got on with day. The increased traffic noise outside on the highway is telling me the day is well and truly underway. The clatter of trucks pulls me back into the present and I become aware that the noise that has been irritating me for some time is, in fact, the tap in the kitchen area dripping steadily into the sink onto the unwashed breakfast dishes. Yikes – who’d be a writer? It smells of coffee dregs and looks like chaos.