Bob Dylan’s house in Malibu is sure to be gorgeous. Apparently it looks over the sea. But when a reporter asked him where he composes, he replied, ‘In a hotel room.’ Tom Wolfe (The Bonfire of the Vanities) was rumoured to have locked himself in a hotel at his editor’s insistence to finish The Kandy-Kolored-Flake Streamline Baby. He produced the 1965 manuscript in a few weeks flat.
Memoirist, Nick Flynn remembers that his 1992 poetry class at NYU took a trip to the woods to write. There’s something to be said for this going-away-to-write formula.
In my home state of Victoria, no one is going anywhere to write, anytime soon. We are in stage 4 lockdown. I might scribble a few words in the car at my local park before taking a walk. There are no cafes to write in, our borders are closed. A trip out of town is illegal. But when travel restrictions do lift, I’ll be packing my sanitizer and laptop and forging an escape – if only to a seedy hotel room for the night, or even a garden bench somewhere.
Once I was lucky enough to rent a cottage in rural France. Thanks to my schoolgirl French I had not a clue what the villagers were talking about, or they me. However, my thoughts got much clearer as there were so few distractions. I lived in my own language bubble, and I wrote.
Artists’ residencies are popular for a reason. A tired brain – or a writing brain – needs time, space, and a fresh approach.
Whatever our choice of location, in this time of change, documenting our thoughts is more important than ever, and in the environment that suits us best. I wish everyone right now, wherever you are … Happy Writing!