Once again The Pen and the Bell: Mindful Writing in a Busy World blows my mind. This week they’ve linked us to writers’ sheds — featuring a picture of Roald Dahl’s.
When my daughters were 18 months old (to continue the thread from a previous post), my office was behind the couch in our living room. I had stacked some boards on bricks to make shelves behind the couch, and put a table top on two file cabinets against the wall. That’s where my computer sat — an IBM clone with an amber display screen and a daisy wheel printer.
When would I write? A friend from graduate school (Anita Johnson) told me that she stayed up late, after her middle-school age children went to bed. She graded papers and she worked on her dissertation until 1 or 2 in the morning.
My babies exhausted me. I taught early in the morning so that my husband could leave for school at 11:00 and teach his afternoon and evening courses. By 7 or 7:30 when (if I was lucky) the babies were ready for bed, I was ready for bed, too.
If I couldn’t stay up late, maybe I could get up early. I tried getting up at 5:00, and when that didn’t work, someone suggested that I try rising on the half-hour, “when the clock hands are on the upswing.” Four-thirty worked.
And so that’s where and when I wrote my doctoral dissertation, behind the living room couch, beginning at 4:30 in the morning. By 6 a.m. I was in the shower. By 7 I was on the Community Transit bus on my way to the University of Washington. True Story. Do I appreciate the Potting Shed — my writing cabin — now? Yes.