The writing space is in the corner of a room that will soon become a nursery. At other times, it was in the corner of a master bedroom, and still earlier, in an overstuffed lounge chair overlooking a hoary old cedar tree. It is the place where my mind opens and things are born.

I do most of my writing in an old rocking chair. When I plant my feet firmly on the floor, the chair sits still, letting the rhythm of the words flow from my fingertips. When I relax, the chair develops its own rhythm, rocking back and forth, and the word tide in my mind builds up again.

When I close my eyes, I can feel the earth spinning around and around and around, taking all of us on a celestial rocket ride. What does it mean? I open my eyes, press my pen to paper, and try to figure it all out.

I do most of my writing with music playing softly beside me. It is loud enough so that I can hear the rhythms of the sound and faintly make out the words of the vocals, but quiet enough so that it doesn't pull me from the stronger rhythm of the pen on paper.

I have several hours of "writing music" that I play on shuffle: The Byrds, John Coltrane, early U2, The Blind Boys of Alabama, Sam Cooke, and so forth. Mellow, soulful sounds that let me follow my own journey without forcing me to follow theirs.

I do most of my writing in a Moleskine notebook, scribbling ideas and thoughts onto the white blank seas before me. The words flow as though part of a primordial ooze; often disparate, but occasionally coalescing into the precursor of an intellectual protein, with psychic amino acids linking the conceptual molecules together.

The good ideas come from these seas of white paper. I might finish up an essay or a story on a computer, but the germ of it, the real writing, happens here in my little Moleskine.

I do most of my writing with a Phileas black roller ball pen from Waterman. This is the only pen that has ever felt right in my hand. Over the years, a small groove has developed on the side of the pen, making it feel even more mine than before.

The pen is magical: from its tip comes black to replace white, placing ideas and thoughts where there once was nothing. It comes to conquer, a Saladin approaching Jerusalem.

I do most of my writing next to the crib of my soon-to-be-born son. He is already my inspiration in countless ways: the sound of his rapid heartbeat inside of the womb, the quick thrusting kicks that I can feel when I lay my hand on Sarah's stomach, his twisting and turning as I watched him move about for the first time on the ultrasound.

I dream about this child, and ask myself questions about him. How will I care for him? How will I know what to do?

I do most of my writing just opposite of a large bookshelf, stuffed to the brim with things once read and things yet to be read. The titles and names speak to me when I look at them: Joyce, Gravity's Rainbow, Wallace, A Room With A View, Robinson...

So many stories, so many things to say. I can almost hear them singing out to me, and I am inspired to add my voice to the chorus.

I do most of my writing with a window open near me, so I can look outside at the world. The view affords me a glimpse of several trees upon which at least two families of birds regularly live, as well as an askance view of the neighbor's home.

The view is idyllic; rarely is anything moving other than tree branches rustling in the wind or a mother flying home to tend to her young. The simplicity and elegance of it brings an inner peace.

I do most of my writing first thing in the morning or last thing in the evening.

In the morning, light fills the room, often allowing me the privilege of using sunlight for reading and writing. I can often feel the warmth of the early morning sunbeams upon my skin, particularly in winter when I am shielded from the cold and only the sun's rays can reach me.

In the evening, the sky is dark outside. When the neighborhood falls into slumber, I can often make out an array of stars in the sky. I'll often open the window on summer nights, to feel the cool Iowa summer breeze on my skin, look up at the sky, and wonder what really is possible.

I do most of my writing next to a small table. On that table rests several things: whatever books I'm currently reading, a lamp, my notebook and pen, and a pint of orange juice or Guinness depending on whether it is morning or evening. There's usually an odd magazine or two to be found nearby, as is some sort of creative diversion such as a pocket chess set.

This is my writing space, but it is my spiritual and mental retreat as well. The things I need are always at hand, and I find an oasis of intellectual safety where my ideas are my own, where I can create and discard as I see fit without the eyes of others to judge.

I do most of my writing with my shoes and socks off. The sensory input from my feet brings me to life, as I rub them on each other, on the carpet, on the wood surfaces.

They spend their time cooped up inside of shoes most days, and their release in the evenings is an intense feeling of freedom, which often brings about an intense creative explosion as well.

The writing space is a special place where the ideas flow.


This writeup was almost entirely composed in a comfortable chair with a pen in my hand, and later dictated to electronic form.

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