Do you need your “space” to create? A sacred area of peace and tranquility where you can tap into that wealth of creativity you can feel lurking in dark crevices in your mind.
Is it a place no one dares enter when you are in residency for fear of serious bodily harm or a tirade of verbal abuse that will need years of counselling to reverse? I too, once enjoyed my own fortress of solitude, perched loftily behind a kitchen wall and accessed through a narrow passage way.
Those days have long passed, the fortress now abandoned to a hoard of hobbit sized little trolls who exercised squatting rights the moment I left.
For those of you who are shaking your heads in horror at the thought of fellow writer divested of his creative castle, take heed of these words..
FREEDOM, freedom, freedom. Okay so just one word, but repeat three times for emphasis. I am free. I have been liberated. Lost you have I? Allow me to explain .
I traded in my fortress for a life on the road. I exchanged solitude for the cacophony of life and isolation for the maddening crowd. Instead of sitting alone in my Ivory tower seeking that elusive spark of creativity I ventured out and it found me.
It finds me every day, in a remote village in the Philippines, surrounded by rice fields or on the bustling streets of Bangkok. An old pre war restaurant abandoned on a street corner in China Town screams write my story as I pass by.
When it comes, the creative spark, I grab it firmly by the ears and pin it down, no matter where I find myself, and I have found myself in some pretty strange places.
Try writing in a crowded bus that’s sweltering inside. Your neighbour on the narrow bench that passes for a seat is not tiny ( proof God exists and has a sense of humour) and the box on her lap and half of yours contains three very lively chickens.
Every twenty metres or so you receive a complimentary slap of the very wet little towel she is using to try and stem the flow of body fluids that are hemorrhaging from every pore on her skin. You breathe a sigh of relief when she climbs off and sneak a quick look out the window to make sure a bloke and a goat aren’t waiting at the stop.
Try writing in a flooded little village, swinging in a hammock to try and keep out of the water, which looks suspiciously as though it might contain a little more than just dysentry and the overflow of every cesspit in the neighborhood.
Factor in the flies, mosquitos and weird looking dragon flies which seem hell bent on mating with the hammock and you soon realize that you are going to need an extra pair of arms. Even the ducks floating below you cannot keep the insects at bay, despite helpful pecks at your butt through the bottom of the hammock.
Try to capture an elusive, fleeting, teasing thought that presents itself in the middle of a wet market in Manila. Once again, the heat levels are high enough to suggest Lucifer might vacation here in the summer.
The smell of fresh and not so fresh fish permeates the air, interspersed with the cloying fragrance or raw chicken. The spot you picked to sit in for a few minutes turns out to be the main access point for trolleys bringing in the catch of the day. Your toes prove to be a very effective mechanism to slow and in some cases completely stop the irrate trolley pushers.
Given the ideal writing environment I now find myself in, I have discovered a new best friend. It’s small, compact and lives in my pocket. Of course, I refer to my cell phone or mobile, depending on your geographic location.
It’s always on, often courtesy of a spare battery (never leave home without one) and is capable of capturing entire scenes with a clever little built in device called a camera. These images prove indespensible when later describing an event or place.
It’s best feature though has been from a writing perspective. Great little tools and apps now mean you can work on and offline, wherever and whenever.
Could this spell the death of the trusty notepad? Why bother carrying one when a potential Pulitzer is a few keystrokes away. Assuming of course you remembered the spare battery, haven’t dropped the phone in the flood water or had a chicken swallow it.
Have you found yourself forced to write in weird and wonderful places? Share your stories below.