Here’s some Friday fun for you: A guest post from author Jennifer Ziegler! Jennifer is the author of Alpha Dog, How Not to Be Popular, and her latest is Sass and Serendipity, out in stores now. Sass and Serendipity is a tribute to both Jennifer’s sister and Jane Austen’s novel Sense and Sensibility, which celebrates its 200th anniversary this year.
And to kick the fun meter up a notch, we’re giving away a copy of Sass and Serendipity! Comment on this post to enter yourself to win. Tweet, Facebook, or blog this post link for additional entries. (Let me know in the comments which you do.) You have until next Tuesday to enter, and I’ll announce the randomly drawn winner on Wednesday.
In keeping with my Creative Spaces theme, Jennifer Ziegler shares some thoughts on writing in the wild (away from home).
I write in many places. I have to. With the demands of motherhood, jobs, home ownership and assorted life stresses, my schedule changes as much as a Central Texas weather forecast. Throw in a major house reorganization, and writing time becomes as hard to come by as, well, rain in Central Texas.
Whether the problem is noise, interruptions, or being constantly on the go, I’ve had to get creative with my creative spaces. Here is a quick tour of my home offices away from home office:
My favorite coffeehouses or branch libraries. Both are good options for when I want to escape the distractions of my desk phone, needy family members, or dirty dishes and other ignored tasks. The upside to libraries is that they contain research material and librarians. However, sometimes I find them too quiet. The upside to coffeehouses is that they contain caffeinated products and snacks. However sometimes I find them too noisy. Being out in public can also inhibit me. I often pantomime scenes to make sure I get the movements just right, but I’m never sure how a roomful of people would react to seeing me make out with an invisible guy.
Outdoors. Sometimes the best way for me to break out of writer’s block is to break out of the four walls of my home. Occasionally I will spread out a quilt beneath our pecan tree and write with a notebook balanced on top of my knees – just like I used to do when I was eleven years old. Perhaps replicating my youth helps the creativity flow. Perhaps substituting the chirps and buzzes of electronics with those of birds and cicadas is what does it. The advantages: sunshine, fresh air, no internet. Disadvantages: mosquitoes, extreme temperatures, no internet.
My Toyota. I discovered this option when my children would fall asleep in the car and I didn’t want to risk moving them to their beds. My kids don’t nap anymore, but I still sometimes use the “auto office” while waiting outside their school or theater camp. This is what I do: I raise the seat and push it back as far as it can go. Then I stack books and/or magazines on my lap to create a desk. (I do know that there are such things as lap desks, but I’ve never bought one. I always have things handy that work just as well – which will tell you just how messy my car is.) After that, I open the windows for a cross breeze, set the radio to a classical station, and I’m ready to work! It’s amazing how productive I can be. There’s something about being in a confined space that allows me to really focus.
Other people’s houses. I should start a non-profit. I should create flyers that read “Will house sit for free!” Instead of money, people could just give me a key and the code to their modem. I’ll even water their plants and feed their pets. I wrote sections of each of my three books in the homes of vacationing pals, and I have to say this could be the best alternate workspace of all. Privacy and the comforts of home without the distractions. Plus, I don’t feel too much at ease – not to the point where I convince myself that instead of revising Chapter Six, I should open a bag of Sun Chips and watch Ellen.