It was Virginia Woolf who insisted that, ''A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction." Or if she is to write anything, I think.
Money is nice but most writers probably don't have the luxury of enough cash in the bank to be able to write full time. There are part time jobs to top up the coffers or writing hours squeezed in between full time gigs.
However, most of us will have a room of our own, or a place, where we can write. I have a few places, depending on the season, and pictured here is my outdoor red picnic table with a notepad, a citronella candle in a clay pot, two peaches from the tree in the garden and an empty bottle of beer left by a visiting friend. Our summer weather has been pretty hot as we begin the new year and so sitting outside on the shaded deck is a mighty fine set up.
I can see the garden and snippets of the sea through the trees, hear the birds making their raucous calls, enjoy visits from the neighbour's cats (whom you have met before, Miss Poppy and Mr. Boy), and work on my writing.
The picnic table was here when I bought the house many years ago, a very fine relic of parties past and time enjoyed by the young family who owned the property before me. It was in need of paint and so fire-engine red seemed appropriate and I cannot believe how well the paint has held up over all these years. Wish I could say the same for myself.
Sitting outside to write can be distracting because there are so many things to look at, to listen to, to sense: a gust of cooling breeze that brings the sea-salt smell up from the beach, the frantic tuis as they dart and dash amongst the trees like jet fighter planes, the neighbour's dog upset by the postman's cycle, the thump of bass from the kids down the road and their garage band.
But isn't that what is needed for writing, when one is dreaming on a hot summer afternoon, letting the animal of the imagination off it's leash to wander, explore, delight and learn?
Where is your writing place this summer?
What do you see, hear and smell while you're there?
Is 2022 the year you'll finally tackle that romance novel you've been wanting to write, or get cracking on the family history? Maybe the memoir about the adventure you had traveling in Nepal or living on the island of Corfu in the '60s?
If there is one thing the COVID pandemic has taught us, it could be, 'Get on with it!' We can never know what is around the corner. Time is precious and it's finite.
If you don't have a writing project in mind, how about journaling? 'I have nothing to write about' is a common roadblock for daily journal keeping but even the mundane can be interesting.
If all you're doing right now is sitting in a chair on the deck avoiding the heat, write about the chair. How long have you had it? Where did it come from? Who sat in that chair during previous summers?
I like to sit on a solid old wooden deckchair that belonged to Mom. The arms still bear the ring marks of multiple gin and tonics she used to perch there while she looked out at the sea.
Perhaps you have a favourite pillow that goes with the chair. Was it given to you by someone or did you pick it up at Bed Bath and Beyond? What is special about it? The cushion I use in Mom's old chair is soft and faded blue with an unusual pattern on the material that looks like devils' heads. (Come on, really?).
Deciding to keep a daily journal - or every other day or even once a week - is a mighty fine writing activity to have on your radar this year, and it isn't a huge undertaking like creating a novel which, let's face it, can seem daunting and even downright impossible during the blissful, enervating days of summer when energy and brainpower is not really a priority.
Setting small goals, taking little steps, can produce great things over time.
So what's on my radar this year? My usual journaling, as I've done since the age of 17 (with a few gaps here and there), and working with other writers to help them reach their writing goals.
As for my own personal writing, I'm exploring the horror/suspense genre. I suppose you could say the COVID pandemic has heightened my awareness of how ordinary, daily life, can be turned on its head within days by the most unexpected of events.