The image at the left has not been overexposed, it’s a photo of my view from my desk. It’s a plain, white wall. And it’s intentional. With all the distractions of media, phones, internet and, during the holidays, happy crowds of family and friends visiting my house, my desk in front of the blank wall has become a necessary sanctuary to be able to formulate ideas and then mold them to the written word.
It’s such a curious thing, really, writing a novel about the world and yet being at times a hermit from that world. The writer is a kind of cipher, experiencing the joys and sorrows of life, its music, its art, its beauty, and then distilling it into words on a page, or computer screen. But often times only after the door is shut, the phone is turned off, the warning sign posted on the door.
I’m always amazed, and a little bit envious, of people who can sit at a coffee shop or crowded book store and write! How do they do it, I wonder; filtering out all that conversation, the commotion, the demands for attention and hear the voice of their characters inside their heads?
It’s comforting to know that I’m in good company wanting to write in a kind of zen-like solitude. Annie Dillard writes in her book, The Writing Life, “I shut the blinds one day for good. I lowered the venetian blinds and flattened the slats. Then, by lamplight, I taped my drawing to the closed blind. There, on the drawing, was the window’s view: cows, parking lot, hilltop, and sky. If I wanted a sense of the world, I could look at the stylized outline drawing. If I had possessed the skill, I would have painted, directly on the slats of the lowered blind, in meticulous colors, a trompe l’oeil mural view of all that the blinds hid. Instead, I wrote it.” Thus does the oracle speak.