Day 34/Ervin, Matching voice for space/ & Faubourg Marigny Bookstore matches my psychic landscape

Do you have a physical space and routine that helps you create? How has your creating schedule (time of day, whether you need to be naked, talismans, etc.) changed over the course of your career? Also: would you rather have the ability to be invisible, or the ability to fly? And, do you have an amulet/talisman?

I know this is actually 4 questions in one. Pick what you want to talk about and see what happens.

That’s an interesting question about physical space. I’m not aware of any needs in terms of where I write, though having a window and a view is nice. From my second-floor spot here in Philly, I can see a lot of big old trees. I’m in a hilly neighborhood called Manayunk, which used to be a Lenape settlement and then a mill town. The method of composition is a bit more of an issue for me, as opposed to location. Most of my first drafts are in first person from the POV of the main character, and I try to write using the technology that matches the characters’ personality or voice. Because the protagonist of my Orwell book spends a lot of time off the grid (spoiler alert: or so he thinks), I wrote by hand on graph paper (which has its own grid pattern, right?). I have an old typewriter, a computer, all kinds of notebooks and strange pencils—the trick for me is matching the tools with the psychic landscape of the fiction.

I do my best thinking late at night and if I don’t get to my fiction first thing in the morning, other things tend to encroach on my writing time: grocery shopping, trail running along the Wissahickon, book reviews, reading every last article I can find about the Phillies.

And I would guess that most artists aspire to invisibility. There’s a strange dynamic that comes with the egotistical conceit that I have something worth saying and people should pay attention to me, because I’m really far more interested in listening to the people and stories around me.

A B: This all makes sense. For a while, I was really into using cheap ballpoint pens and scraggles of composition pages, and then Tyler introduced me to a fancier pen that made every word look and feel way more premeditated and important. Before I started this project, I only wrote on my laptop. I can’t really do that with this project.

Ultimately, I went with the nicer pen because when I use a heavier ink, I have to be more careful about spacing out my writing, and leaving more white space (so as not to make my writing illegible with ink bleeds) and I am ALWAYS writing on top of, in between, to the side of, tiny and in sideways, over, the writing that I’ve just completed. I am a reviser as I write. So the deeper, heavier ink helps spread out my thoughts a bit. Right now I am using a Precise v5, which was my fave back in high school (purple and green) because I used all the ink out of both of Tyler’s pens. (If he’s reading this, his suspicion that somewhere in my large bags I had a contraband pen is confirmed true.)

I like to write in small spaces if it is a personal space–bathroom floor, closet, under a table, a nook–or, if it’s in a coffeeshop, really, the temperament changes with my mood, my level of hydration, whether or not I feel like my outfit is cute, etc., etc.

At the Oakley Plantation restroom in St Francisville. Just a funny sign.

I got very little sleep last night. Like 4 hours. And today I decided that even though it’s like the hottest day in the summer, and I have little energy, I really needed to find a particular space from long ago.

My dad’s best friend John Titsworth, a fine person and a jazz enthusiast you wouldn’t believe, moved to New Orleans decades ago–I remember when we visited him for the first time, and he was jumping out of his skin he was so happy. He’s a happy person, and makes life decisions to choose happiness. On some jaunt around the French Quarter long ago, we perused the dusty gay male erotica of Faubourg Marigny Bookstore, and ever since, I’ve filed it in my Very Special Bookstore memories.

Here is a picture of where I used to live. Because we are talking about physical spaces. Isn’t it a great front?

And, as Ervin says:

the trick for me is matching the tools with the psychic landscape of the fiction.

I think today I really needed to be around stuff published in the 1970’s and 1980’s about lesbian and feminist ideas–the titles like Your Gender Workbook and Lavender Lists and such. Because that’s the psychic landscape of a character I’m working out.

Today, I decided I really wanted to be in that space again. And, lucky me, I’m in New Orleans for the summer, so I have access to that little piece of magic. I have a bad sense of direction but a high tolerance for being lost (one of my traits I’m actually content with), so it didn’t take too long for me to find it again after fifteen some years. In fact, without a map and without my trusty oracle phone. I just sort of drove there. I didn’t even remember it was in the Marigny! Yep, it’s still there. Yep, same bookseller. Wearing DASHING pink trousers, I might add. Thanks, universe. You can see him at the link.

I bought an old book of collected advice columns written by Pat Califia (now Patrick Califia) and a book about how class informed lesbians ’round the country. These are research. I’ve noticed I am way less into reading up on stuff and researching stuff, so maybe this time when I actually need certain info about how a lesbian brought up in the 1950’s would feel about certain things, I’ll just read up and get out, unlike last novel attempt, when I did way too much reading about segregation-era Frankfort Kentucky for no reason but that it was an escape from finding my story.

Stay cool, Studiola Studs and Stud-ettes.

About alison barker