Willie Lin, whose chapbook Lesser Birds of Paradise is just out, writes about where—and the atmospheric quality of where—she writes.
When thinking about where I write, I come to the notion that, for me, the particularity of where is not truly separate from the when or the how. I prefer to work where or when it is dim. At twilight, during my commute. In the overflow annex of a coffeehouse that gets little natural light. Bleary-eyed at my desk in the small hours. Anywhere on a stormy day. I like solitude without silence. The ambient darkness seems to lend a privacy to the act and an appealing moodiness to the proceedings, as if I’m approaching some secret attic of longing. Time dilates. My handwriting suffers. I like the accidents that lurk there. I write on the backs of receipts, on bookmarks, and lately, more and more, in the Notes app on my phone. (On my phone, I mistype broken as borker, and instantly my mood lifts.) I transcribe and mis-transcribe what I have to my laptop.
In the past decade, I’ve lived in nine places in six cities. In the current place, I’ve made an attempt at creating an office I’d want to work in. I’ve built an oversized desk that I share with my partner, who is also a writer. The walls have been painted and chalked and papered with a pages from magazines and writing exercises that we’d clattered on typewriters. I bought a rug to soften the room and hung curtains over the lone window that faces a brick wall and lets in almost no light during the day. All these tasks I approached with a stupid faith because the truth is that writing has never been about convenience. I’ll find it wherever it is.