Thursday, September 27, 2007


"Give me, kind Heaven, a private station,
A mind serene for contemplation!..."
GAY "Fables" pt II

I like to have a serene work place. It can be in various places so long as there is harmony and a peaceful atmosphere. I've written in coffee shops and jotted notes down while the music played at the Latin Quarter Bistro. I've walked the sea-wall in Stanley Park and sat on a bench over looking the Bay to write. I've even dashed out a few lines while riding home on the bus. But my favorite (and most productive) work places are usually in a special, quiet place with beautiful surroundings and no interferences so I can hear the Muse speak.

When I am in Athens, this is often where I write: In Christina's courtyard. I've planned scenes and plotted stories here in this lovely courtyard. Usually I go out there first thing in the morning with my breakfast: some little toasts, yoghurt and fruit, my journal, my notebook, sometimes the morning paper. I love this courtyard and have many happy memories of sitting here with friends. When Roberto was alive we often sat here together, me writing notes, he reading. Or we'd just talk and discuss my novel's progress, or make plans for the day or reminisce about our past adventures. That last times I saw Roberto it was in this courtyard. So whenever I'm there, sitting alone contemplating, I can feel his spirit near.
I'm often a solo traveller. So when I go out for my evening I choose a particularly appealing place -- usually a taverna by the sea. I take my journal and sometimes my notebook, order my dinner and a carafe of red wine and enjoy the solitude and serenity of the scenery.
This is one of the places where I ate dinner and wrote journal notes last summer in Naxos at Plaka Beach. You never feel entirely 'alone' if you have your journal with you!

It's important, when I'm seriously into my work on the novel (or any other writing project) to have a work space that is reasonably uncluttered with few distractions. In my bedroom, where I work at home, I have many pictures and objects around that remind me of Greece and, in particular, of Alexander's world. I even made this screen saver with his pictures. My bookshelf is nearby, and I also have another wall with a poster-board on which I have written the current events of whichever part of the novel I'm working on. As I finish writing those scenes, I scrub them off the board. That way I can clearly see my progress.

Usually, when I'm in a writing frenzy, it doesn't take long before my work spaces is full of junk, papers, tissues, pens and other paraphanalia. But once I come to the end of the piece I'm working on, before starting anew, I clean everything up so I'm not distracted by the mess. Behind the stand with my current notes is a little reminder to myself with a picture of Alexander. It says:
ALEXANDER IS THE BEACON, THE LIGHT THROUGH WHICH I SHALL ACHIEVE SUCCESS. On the cork board are various notes to myself about the novel: correct spelling of names, bits of research information, words of wisdom, and a postcard from Lesbos of the statue of Sappho. She's one of my Muses. The photo above is one of Georges Meis's lovely photographs of an old Greek house. And the calandar is made by my friend Patrick of photos he took on our visit to Chile.

On the wall behind I have a cast of Alexander's face and above it a wreath. Beside it is the painting of Achilles' triumph at Troy, a plaque of Kallisto playing a pan pipe, a picture of the Muses, and a beautiful icon of Gabrielle the Archangel as well as a couple of watercolors of my village, Lala, a painting by my daughter of a Greek door and a photo of me sitting on the mountainside at the village (Lala Evvia).

"The love of learning, the sequestred nooks,
And all the sweet serenty of books."
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow 1807-1887 "Morturi Salutarnus" (1875) st9
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Debra Young said...

Lovely bits of inspiration, Wynn. I too like a peaceful place to write, and on weekends work in the quiet of home or on a nice day beneath my favorite palm tree on the bluff where the sound of the ocean wipes out other noises. During the week, of course, I must make do with Starbuck's and close my ears to the usual racket. d:

Adrian Swift said...

And to think my "workspace" is defined as the on-screen desktop of my notebook computer!

I tried to go "all-electronic" and so I have many files on the computer for notes, tables, charts, etc., that I use in addition to the documents containing the actual manuscripts. This has worked well for me, allowing me portability and productivity.

I have conditioned myself to think of my on-screen desktop as my writing space. It has worked well enough and I've been very productive when working, but it lacks the ambiance that you have described. I plug in headphones and listen to music sometimes to add a little atmosphere, and I change the wallpaper (on my desktop) to an outdoor scene that matches whatever story I'm currently writing.

Perhaps what we are seeking is a state of mind. I guess I am able to achieve it with minimal physical prompts. It's an austere way to go. Yours is much richer. Mine has a Zen quality: "I am here, in the moment."

Best wishes for your WIP, and I share your love for things Greek and Alexander's world.

Wynn Bexton said...

I think wherever you feel relaxed and comfortable is appropriate. And I guess it depends on what you're writing as to what 'inspiration' you have around you. When I was working on the script for my play "The Street" I found I could write well in my favorite Italian coffee shop or whenever I had jazz playing while I wrote. That wouldn't work for Shadow although I will often jot down random notes when I'm in strange places.
The importance of carrying a note book!

Sam said...

My workspace looks like a tornado hit it minutes ago - and I usually work in the middle of TV shows, kids chatting or playing games, dinner burning, the dogs snuffling...
I don't have a work space in the house - my first work space was in the middle of the living room, and so have been all the rest. I don't mind hustle and bustle all around me, and my kids learned early on not to bother me (any comment they made was met by "Hmm? That's nice. Go play!") LOL
I'm also amazed at how many poeple still admire and use Alexander as inspiration. I have to admit to being one of them!

Wynn Bexton said...

Alexander has been an inspiration to me since I was 16 years old!