The Invisible Writer

Great fiction writers create new worlds.  Going to another world requires a cultural assimilation program, at the very least. To live in another world, even temporarily, requires isolation from the here and the now.

Having a personal creative space is a dream come true for most writers. On days when everyone else is attending a baseball game or what have you, the solitude of being an author sets in. It sometimes entails turning down a few invitations, because creating a new world takes focus, time and energy.

Writers’ needs and preferences run the gamut. Conrad Aiken wrote in his dining room. D.H. Lawrence liked to write outdoors, under the trees. Some authors like to write in hotel rooms, as Toni Morrison did when her children were young. A hotel affords privacy and the opportunity to limit interruptions for days at a time.

Some writers don’t seem to need privacy. They can retreat into the recesses of their own minds and vanish in plain sight. A legendary Parisian café, Les Deux Magots, has hosted great writers such as Jean-Paul Satre and Albert Camus. They generated content right in the restaurant.  French author Nathalie Sarraute once said that a café “is a neutral place, and no one disturbs me – there is no telephone.” A café allows a writer to feel less isolated. They can be alone while in a crowd, blending into the background. They are physically present, but their minds are busily creating all the while.

Writers also may tell you that they can’t disappear into their writing without the use of props. Only a specific pen, type of music and particular shirt will do. Therefore, the idea of a writing place is psychological in nature. That equates to whatever the writer needs to feel comfortable.  In his 1951 essay “Transitional Objects and Transitional Phenomena,” British psychologist D. W. Winnicott wrote, “It is in the space between inner and outer worlds, which is also the space between people—the transitional space—that intimate relationships and creativity occur.” With that in mind, perhaps the best answer about finding a writing haven is from a quote by Ernest Hemingway: “The best place to write is in your head.”

Where do you go when you disappear? Do you have a writing haven or can you write in plain sight?