The Artist’s Studio: Day 1: A view of the office

The postmistress has observed that no matter where they are in the world writers need a sanctuary in which to write.  Artists have needed ‘A Room of one’s Own’  long before the days of Virginia Woolf.  Some are lucky enough to have studios annexed to their homes or in places not too far from home.   The postmistress has been told how  many of today’s writers work in converted attics, sheds, goatsheds  and summerhouses.

Thanks to the kindness of sponsors, supporters and friends artists are sometimes offered a space in which they can work. Clare Morrall wrote ‘Astonishing Splashes of Colour’ in the upstairs room of a house in Edgbaston – a place offered to her by a friend –  a place of retreat to; a place to write.

After Christmas, Julie mentioned to a friend in an internet conversation that in the dog days after Christmas she was finding it difficult to cut herself off from the many distractions of home. Each New Year she resolves to find a space to write – a place close to home but far enough  from where she lives to be a world away.

When Lucy emailed back to say there was a space available in her building at the moment and that Julie would be welcome there  –  all excuses went out of the window.  2010, it seems, is  the year for Julie to follow through on her resolutions.

Individuals work differently and the posmistress has observed that different writers need different kinds of spaces to write particular styles of work at different times.  The postmistress, Ness and Jo have

observed that when Julie writes  she goes through different stages:

the wandering -wondering- hunting and gathering stage done kinaesthetically, paripatetically and sometimes, but more seldom, in front of a computer in a strange search engine wonderland.

The reclining on a bed stage  – making notes in a moleskin notebook… digging deeper and deeper..

The dreaming or meditative stage –  ideas arrive beneath the quilt of dreaming and half dreaming.

Then, the curling on a sofa stage where connections are made and work is honed, refined, accepted and rejected and then, when the poem is almost there, she takes it to the bath… relaxing in the water as the final stage of the birthing process begins.

The next stage marks a return to the computer – this time not for research  but in order to edit the work carefully.

The mulling and reflection stage comes next… staring out of the window perhaps or doing other things in order to build distance from the work.

Finally, often after some time, she  reads her work again and tries to see the  good and bad points, to look upon her work as a stranger would.

Can there be  more stages? Well, yes it seems the next stage is saying lines out loud… sensing words as they make their way out into the world. This often highlights small changes that need to be made to the finished piece.  ‘The voice is an instrument of truth’ – if the piece isn’t correct, if it doesn’t feel authentic then the throat constricts as you speak. The final test is to see if the words resonate.

Finally the piece is performed by Julie and escorted into the world before growing like a child into an independent being who goes out on their own and forgets to phone home.  The words in the books or on CDs have to make it on their own.

As you can see from the photographs there is a world to watch from the window, a quite space to research, to sit and think and – in the library room attached to Julie’s office – a sofa for those days when the body needs to be relaxed in order for thoughts to flow and dreams to weave in and out…

Research studies prove that many people’s reading and writing skills are enhanced when they can relax with their feet up – and yet how many schools and work places provide this?

Do you have favourite places where you like to write? Where do you get your best ideas? Have you analysed the stages of your own creative process?

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