When we have interviews here on Mysteristas–or when I talk to other writers–I am always amazed at how many of them say they need absolute quiet to write. No music, no TV, no coffee shops.
My first thought is “Absolute quiet, what is that?”
On Tuesday, Kate Lansing talked about ideal writing atmosphere and how words written under less-than-perfect circumstances were often just as good as those written in the perfect environment.
I can relate.
See, my “perfect” writing spot would be a semi-quiet space. Comfortable chair or cushion in front of a crackling wood fire. I’d have a nice beverage at hand – tea or wine. Maybe a little soft jazz or classical in the background.
My usual writing spot is at a table in the cafe space at my day job, or a corner of my desk. There’s a lot of chatter. Phones. Computer keyboard clacking. Conversations about server requirements, or customer needs, or project deadline problems. It is anything but quiet.
I grew up in a family with four kids. I had to learn to study with three siblings (way younger, 4-8 years younger) running around. I practiced piano and violin in that environment. I learned to do anything in a noisy space.
So when I started writing, silence was not a requirement. I figured if I could learn Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata in chaos, I could write. And so it is: I can write anywhere. Starbucks, Panera, my day-job, an airplane, and yes sometimes I get that idyllic quiet space.
In thinking why that is, I realized it’s atmosphere. Not the atmosphere around me as much as the one I sink into as I write.
As I get into it, the story wraps around me. I am no longer in whatever space I’m physically located. I’m in the Laurel Highlands–in nature, or in one of my characters’ houses, or a courthouse. I am in Pittsburgh’s Strip District in another story or Squirrel Hill. I’m transported to a downtown financial firm (in “Three Rivers Voodoo”), rural West Virginia (“The Far End of Nowhere”) or a 1942 airplane assembly factory (“Home Front Homicide”).
In fact, the noise around me tends to fade away. People talk to me, but I don’t hear them.
At that moment, I’ve created my own atmosphere. And it’s always exactly where I need to be.
Mysteristas, what about you? Can you write anywhere? Readers, what books or activities create an atmosphere around you that wipes out your physical location?