I love discovering writers and illustrators who have unconventional workspaces (Rosanne Parry, for example), and today is one of those treats. Critically acclaimed author Laura Resau is giving us a peek into her writing space, and it’s not your typical spare room turned office space . . .
Laura Resau’s latest novel, The Queen of Water, co-written with María Virginia Farinango, will be released on March 8 and has already received two starred reviews. Of the book, ALA Booklist said, “A moving, lyrical novel that will particularly resonate with teens caught between cultures.” Kirkus Reviews praised it as a “riveting tale . . . by turns heartbreaking, infuriating and ultimately inspiring.” The good news keeps coming for this book and it has also been named a Junior Library Guild selection.
Her previous novels–Star in the Forest, The Ruby Notebook, The Indigo Notebook, Red Glass, and What the Moon Saw–have garnered many starred reviews and awards, including the IRA YA Fiction Award, the Américas Award, and a spot on Oprah’s Kids’ Book List.
If you are in or can travel to the Fort Collins, CO, area, join Laura for fun and festivities at her book release event for The Queen of Water at Old Firehouse Books on Saturday, March 12, at 6pm. And if you are a fan of her Notebook series, you can look forward to The Jade Notebook being published later this spring.
Describe your workspace.
I write in my “sweet little fifties rig” – a vintage trailer that I impulsively bought on Craigslist three years ago. At that time, I had to give up my writing room to make a bedroom for my new son, who we were in the process of adopting from Guatemala. I panicked at the thought of having no “room of my own,” which prompted me to think outside the box and get a trailer to use as my writing space. I love it! It’s only about ten feet long, but there’s enough room for my “desk”—a Formica fold-out table—and a bed-reading nook, and many of my favorite, inspirational knick-knacks. The trailer sits happily in my driveway, taking me to far-off lands in my imagination . . .
My daily schedule depends on what stage my current books-in-progress are at—rough draft, revision, copyedits, promotion, or a mix of everything. Ideally, I start my workday with reading and writing some poetry, and then moving into writing the story at hand. I often take little breaks to make more tea, do a load of laundry, run the dishwasher, go for a walk, pick up some plastic toys strewn about the house, etc. As I’m doing these tasks, I feel like my unconscious mind is still working with the story (at least that’s what I tell myself!)
I try to use the mornings for my creative time, and afternoons for promotional stuff—emailing with teachers and librarians about author visits, writing website and blog content, emailing with readers, responding to interviews, planning workshops and presentations, etc. It’s hard for me to be that disciplined, though . . . I usually end up going online here and there throughout the day.
Hmm . . . that’s a hard one! Everything in my writing space is special and inspirational to me in some way. I’ll pick three!
1) I love the bells and wind chimes inside and outside my trailer . . . I can hear them ring when the wind blows or when I shift positions and the entire trailer moves a little, like a boat.
2) I also love the old children’s books that my dad gave me—they’re so musty and magical.
3) The pink fairy lights make me happy, too—they’re festive and warm and make my space feel extra-cozy.
If it’s spring or summer, I clip a few flowers from my garden and put them on my table. Sometimes I light a beeswax candle for a little while. I sometimes take a few minutes to meditate and feel gratitude to the source of creativity. These small rituals remind me that writing is a sacred and mysterious act.
What do you listen to while you work?
I like listening to music, often mellow music in Spanish or French (at the moment, Carla Bruni).
Tea with lots of milk and honey. I drink tea all day long!
What keeps you focused while you’re working?
I love when I get completely absorbed in the story I’m writing . . . that’s the best. But when it feels like more of a struggle to focus, I turn to tea, music, and the small rituals.
Do you write longhand, on a computer, or another way?
I brainstorm and sketch out ideas with a pen in a spiral notebook, sometimes curled up in the bed nook of my trailer. I do most of the actual writing and revising on my laptop.
How do you develop your story ideas? Do you use an outline, let the muse lead you, or another technique?
I jot down lots of notes in my notebook, then do some stream-of-consciousness writing–just letting it out without censoring or worrying about details. Once I’ve written at least 20 pages or so (often more), I write a tentative outline. The outline changes a lot throughout the process of writing the book. I’m constantly re-doing the outline—it’s a very loose guide for me, always changing. I really let my unconscious self—the imagery, characters, and story—lead me.
If you were forced to share your workspace but could share it with anyone of your choosing, who would it be?
Rumi, the 13th century mystic. I keep a volume of his poetry on my desk and often read it. (If you’ve read The Indigo Notebook or The Ruby Notebook, you can guess I’m a Rumi fan!)
I really love Elizabeth Gilbert’s (of Eat, Pray, Love fame) take on creativity and writing. I’d love to quote all her advice, but here I’ll just pick out a little piece of it. (I think Jack Gilbert is her father? I don’t know!):
“As the great poet Jack Gilbert said once to young writer, when she asked him for advice about her own poems: ‘Do you have the courage to bring forth this work? The treasures that are hidden inside you are hoping you will say YES.'”