Monday, 4 February 2013

On Finding Spaces to Write - Monica Suswin

A myriad of spaces is what immediately comes to mind, ranging from the space inside my head to the actual space of my surroundings.   All of importance to me in different ways for my writing.                         

Time & Space
Time and not having enough of it, or any of it, is never an argument I find convincing.   It only takes me ten minutes to get some initial thoughts down onto paper.   Later on I might take another ten minutes to do a free-write, to string some words together, any words that want to flow from the end of my fingers.   I will then fit in any amount of ten minute slots to work on one piece; if I can I’ll double that into twenty minute slots.   Sometimes there is the luxury of three quarters of an hour.

I gather together a jigsaw of draft material when I work like this.   Of course there are days when I might bury myself in a timeless place for endless scribbling, redrafting or editing.   But I find these short spurts of time, given enough care and focus, will eventually give me a form to my writing which pleases me. 

Any project can be broken down into constituent sections to be worked on piece by piece until the whole comes into shape.   This is a permission I give myself whatever other demands life makes on me, and there are always pressing demands.   Mine is a 24/7 attitude to writing.   With this approach to my time, I find the spaces I need to write.                                      

place & Space

This was a satisfying moment: the day I finished Draft Three of my book.  A clear surface, all of the files in one basket.  Wonderfully satisfying. 

I am lucky I have a spacious workroom, and two desks: this one is for my papers; I have another for the computer and phone.
This desk is not for writing proper.   I use it to plan my day’s work.   I try to keep my desk clear, if not at the end of the day, then at the end of a section of my work.   A clear desk helps the clarity of my mind to focus on the piece of writing to be done.  I would be entirely lost if I didn’t have this generous surface, inviting me to settle down, spread out my papers, and provide me with a special place and space to focus on the piece I want to write.  
My best thoughts, however, often come in the shower so all I need is to perch on the edge of my bed wrapped in a huge fluffy towel and reach down for my A4 pad and pencil (always on the carpet by my bed) and scribble them down.  There are times I need the whole house to myself, all the rooms, so I can pace around reading aloud.   Then I listen to how a piece sounds to my ears; a completely different experience from either reading off the screen or from my print-outs. 
Space Away From Home

Here’s a room in Morocco, I worked on the bed - protected from the heat outside with a pleasant breeze coming in through the door.

Wherever I am, I transfer my working methods from home to any room I stay in.   Because my work is portable I carry it inside my head, along with the lap-top, papers and note-books in my brief case.

Cabin 451 on board ship
My cabin on a large working and leisure ship going north up the Norwegian coast.   I drafted many short pieces for my book during the week, as well as read more than 300 pages of Hilary Mantel’s Woolf Hall; the essential point to become immersed in the world of the Tudors. 


Cabin on the Hill  Providing A Writing Space for others: 
I want and am able to provide the kind of space writers need away from home in my cosy wood cabin at the top of our garden.   It won’t suit everyone because it is without en-suite facilities.   But writers can be self-contained and self-sufficient, only coming down to the house for the bathroom.   Really more like a house guest.

 A Guest Writing 

Monica Suswin is working on a book exploring her own creative process of therapeutic writing.   Using extracts from personal journals, prose, poems and dramatic dialogues, Monica shows how she has gained deeper insights into her inner life through her personal writing, and how in turn this has helped her understanding of relationships with others.   Within all her work, she has found an indomitable spirit of a life-force which lies at the heart of her life and her writing.

Contact Details for Monica Suswin:

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