Tag Archives: Spaces

Writing for the space you’re in

One of the perks of being the church secretary’s husband, and one of the sound technician team, is access to the church as the occasional writing getaway. I usually write in the sanctuary, often sitting behind my usual post in the sound booth or at one of the back tables. We’re just one of your local neighborhood churches, so it’s not like I’m writing under stained glass or amongst wood paneling or anything, but it is still a sacred space.

Writing alone in a church has its advantages. I never have to worry about leaving my laptop alone when I have to go to the bathroom (a problem for the writing session of more than a couple of hours). I can play my music as loud as I want, and people won’t be around to mind if I decide to sing a few bars to take advantage of the acoustics (a perk I don’t get even in my own home). Sure it can get a little creepy at night once I turn all the lights out, but that’s been fading as I get a different kind of familiarity with the place as somewhere more than just where I go Sunday mornings.

Ironically I was working on a section of The Sky Below dealing with my pastor character, who is going through his own crisis of faith during a disaster. As a writer generally you are always a bit concerned that a character’s views might come across as your own. After all, you thought of what was in a character’s head, so on some level you must believe what they’re saying. In practice, this is often true, but as you get better as a writer it should become less and less true. Some of the things my reverend in the story thinks match my own experiences of questioning faith at times, and how to manage feelings and God, and others are invented for the character as he is.

You might think a church is an odd place for someone to write about someone questioning their faith. I’d say that puts a little too much specific reverence into the building, when the church is really the people who fill it, and their brothers and sisters in Christ throughout the world. Also, it’s not like God is the eye of Sauron and he can only see me when I’m holding a glowing orb or when I’m standing in his house. If you have faith, then God knowing what you’re thinking, and writing at all times is kind of part of the deal.

Weirdly, the church is a particularly good place to work, and not just because it’s free of a lot of the distractions that a Starbucks next to Half Price Books has. A good church is a place for introspection and reflection, of prayer and worship and thought. The traits necessary for a good experience of church are the same as those necessary for a good experience of writing (at least in my opinion). You can’t write something thoughtful without reflection, and as someone who believes that using talent can be a form of worship, perfecting your craft can be a way of glorifying God, even if a particular passage isn’t so glorious.

I write pretty much anywhere, usually without much thought to the space I’m in beyond the basic creature comforts. But sometimes it can be restorative to write in a specific place, one conducive to the specific craft of writing.

So what’s the place you write where you fell most in tune with what you’re writing? How about other kinds of art?

Leave a comment

Filed under Faith + Life, Writing

Writing Spaces

Where I like to write has changed a little over the years.

I think part of it is that I spent a little while searching for what I had in college. For a couple of years I worked for the physics lab and the computer science department in various low-level research and programming jobs. The best perk of the job was access to labs and private spaces at night. There were public computer labs of course, but these were private spaces, places where I could go to be alone and work.

That’s been a little hard to find as a working adult. I do have my office at home, though there can be a lot of distractions from media, from pets, and from the urge to see what my wife is doing when I’m home. Truth is, I kinda like the little red haired girl and can find it hard to work when I could be spending time with her (at least some days).

Coffee shops kind of work but they don’t have the same privacy or nesting comfort. My labs were personalized, and had much better chairs, or crappy trash picked couches which were somehow a million times more comfortable. Even trips back to campus making use of spaces like Buckeye Donut or the Union isn’t the same.

Occasionally, when I’ve had to stay late at my work for another reason I get a taste of that feeling, though truthfully if I’m staying late at work it’s because I have something time sensitive and involving that doesn’t leave a whole lot of time for personal endeavors.

I gave some thought to renting office space, or even a storage container but the expense seemed more than a little impractical, especially given that I had plenty of nice spaces to work.

But lately, as a consequence of being part of the sound team / technical support for my church, I’ve found myself working here late nights, installing OS while trying to write blog posts, or even taking time before Sunday morning to write. It’s not quite the same nest as labs were, but I’m able to infuse a little of my own color into the booth, including a fractal background for the worship computer.

And a lot of nights the church is empty and quiet and once I get used to all of the weird creaking sounds it can sometimes make, it can actually be a great distraction free place away from the world. And there’s something that just feels right about writing in the sanctuary.

I’m sure the instinct to change will take hold of me eventually (there’s talk of my moving my office to the basement though our cat would need to be a lot better behaved before I really consider it). But for the moment I am happy to have a little back of that feeling of college, of quiet nights spent mostly in the dark, working on my projects.

Where’s your favorite place to write?

1 Comment

Filed under Writing