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Where We Write

By Kathryn Pritchett
January 22, 2021

Now that you’ve met our newest Lanterns, we thought you might like to see where they work their magic. We asked them to tell us about the writing spaces where they dream, plot and perfect their prose. Then we dug deeper. “What works in your writing cave and what would you like to change in the coming year?”

Nomad writer Deb lands at her dining room table.

A writing cave. Hmmm … I think of Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own a lot … because I don’t actually have one. I share our home office with my husband but I don’t find my desk very comfortable for writing, especially if he’s working at his desk. He’s lovely, and I’m crazy about him, but just having another person there is distracting. (I’m an only child …) So I’m sort of a nomad in my own home. I sometimes write at the desk, but usually I’m somewhere else. We have a low couch in the living room that’s good for TV watching and I can work there sometimes. It’s the only furniture the dog is allowed on, though, and she usually wiggles her way under my right arm, making it difficult to work the mouse … but she’s so cuddly that I can’t make her go away. Often I write at the dining room table, as you see in the photo. I have to put pillows on the chair to get high enough to use the keyboard comfortably, but I can spread papers and stuff out onto the table, so it’s a pretty good spot — though still not my own. Really, it’s a miracle I get any writing done at all, when you think of it. When the libraries are open again I may just decamp to the local branch … I miss going inside the library …

Deb McCaskey

Gini finds solace in her dedicated writing space.

My writing retreat provides a haven from the outside world. Filled with papers, calendars, reference books, manila folders, it extends a lifeline between me and world in my novels. I sink into the worn, leather chair, its arms cracking in spots, and I survey the organized chaos. After traveling from classroom to classroom as a teacher, never knowing whether a desk was permanent or temporary, I find solace that my desk, my writing room, my laptop, will be here to greet me, rain or shine. On the far table, I see copyediting binders from the classes I have taken, a plot planner I use for my current novel, a stack of French travel books and maps from my last trip to France. My scribbler’s notebooks lie askew on the neighboring chair—inside the pages lurk the contents of what new project? A new poetry collection? Some flash fiction? Thoughts and notations for yet another novel? The answer rests within this day, maybe tomorrow, and even better, next week.

—Gini Grossenbacher, M.Ed.

Mari’s co-worker India welcomes her to the work.

My office is a nook off the kitchen, where I write and work from home at my day job, while my “co-worker,” India, hangs out in his desk box (if not on me).

I love my computer setup, but I’d like to add a standing desk, and my primary goal for my writing cave in 2021 is WRITING IN IT more than I have this year!

Mari Christie

 

I’ve been writing since I was a kid, and always loved the history of California and the West. I used to tape collages of postcards and photos cut from magazines all over my walls, and put funky souvenirs on my desk. These varied visuals spurred my imagination as I wrote, and still do. My home office, where I write today, looks a lot like my childhood bedroom. 

Lynn puts her feet up as she ponders the past.

I have published books and articles about western history for over thirty years, and now also write historical fiction, so my office décor has a cowboy vibe. The curtains are made of vintage fabric covered with cattle roundup scenes. I buy vintage postcards on Ebay which I stick on the walls, and continue to cut pictures out of magazines. I also collect and sometimes use vintage typewriters, and always have one within reach.

I occasionally go a little overboard. My office can look like something from an episode of Law & Order, when the cops break into a crazed stalker’s apartment and find the walls covered with photos and notes. But it works for me.

Nothing about my writing space changed in the pandemic year of 2020. If anything, I dug deeper into my childhood need to be surrounded by reminders of the West. Although there is hope on the horizon in 2021, I’ll always need to look up from my keyboard to see smiling cowgirls and vast desert landscapes. 

Lynn Downey

In 2020 my writing spot slowly migrated out of our family room, where I wrote my entire first novel at a table facing the television (turned off). I decided to finally reclaim my grown son’s room, because it has a lovely view of our back yard and some hills beyond. Tall bookcases hold about a thousand of his books, so I have now re-christened the room “the library.” My husband is slowly buying into that. 

Thoughtful desk accessories evoke memories and inspire Rebecca.

Over the course of the year, I bought myself a small desk, a comfortable chair, and a new lamp. On one wall hang illustrations of Romeo and Juliet and Twelfth Night. My files, which are in folders with art photos, go into a maple magazine holder that belonged to my parents. I’m doing research for my next novel, so there are books about the seventeenth-century Dutch Republic, as well as works on the history of cartography. To connect me to Holland, I have my paperclips in an egg cup I bought in Delft, as well as a magnet that has pictures of Delft tiles. For 2021 my daughter bought me a calendar of old maps, which hangs on the wall. Really, the only thing that isn’t optimal is that the sun shines into the room much of the morning, so I have to close the blinds for a couple of hours. It’s a small price to pay.

Rebecca Dharlingue

Kathryn Pritchett
Written by Kathryn Pritchett

Kathryn Pritchett writes about strong women forged in the American West. To interact with her and the other Paper Lantern Writers, join us in our Facebook group SHINE, on Instagram, and Twitter.

View Kathryn’s PLW Profile

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