Can your writing environment be a factor in your writing? The answer’s obvious, if say, you were trying to write romantic sonnets, while two feet from your hair-raised head a teeth-bared pit bull strained against a cracking leash. That’s a bit extreme of course. But might you write halfway better if half of the pit bull’s teeth were removed? How would a purring kitten in the room affect your writing?
I broach the topic because I write in somewhat of an unusual environment: attacked by plaid. That’s the interior of my 1966 Airstream Globetrotter in the photo above. It’s got a good broadband connection (though it’s only sends Internet packets from the 60s, so there’s a lot of The Man from Uncle coming through) and it’s downright cozy. I live in a semi-rural environment, so out of its many windows I see mostly fields, right now filled with high grasses—and the skunk I missed stepping on by two feet the other day.
The Airstream’s classic silvery-egg shapeliness has been refined, modified and expanded over time, but that bullet-bodied essence has retained its original appeal. There are certain shapes that beguile the eye, winning our affections in a swift, unconscious bond that escapes any internal editor. Perhaps more intimately, there’s something a little womb-like about the trailers; they curl around you when you’re relaxing inside. That singular shape still rewards the eye with a tingle of approval; every glance reinforces the sense of timeless design.
I do feel that congenial coccooning in the old trailer, and I think it’s a fine environment for writing: there’s the sound of the mockingbirds (and sometimes those damn roosters), the wind swaying the shifting grasses, and that settled sense of an old vehicle that’s still solid and sound. I think well in the old Stream, and it feels like an atmosphere conducive to good keyboarding.
But some writers do well with an entirely different ambience. I know writers who love to go to active coffee shops for their scribblings, needing the murmurs of people and the spoosh of the espresso machine to percolate their thoughts. Other people make sure there ARE no windows in their writing room, so distraction can’t seep in. I’m one of those people who never writes with music playing, or at least music with lyrics, because I’m lured by the words, and my writing thought train derails.
I love to write travel pieces, but don’t like to write the actual sentence-by-sentence of an article on the road. So I’ll write notes and a few sentences in the hotel room, but I always wait to get back home to put together the full composition. Of course, I do some of my writing in the house too, because that’s where the bourbon is. I return to my Airstream when I want a room of my own.
Where do you hang your writing hat?