Writers' Rooms

These past Writers' Rooms feature a different B.C. author’s writing space and accompanying essay so that you, the reader, can glean something about the authors and the writing processes behind the books you love. Perhaps it goes without saying that if you buy their books you are helping writers to continue to practise their craft. Enjoy!

 

Ivan E. Coyote: I just moved into this little attic in a shared house in Ottawa a month ago, and I will be returning to Vancouver as soon as I finish teaching this semester, so I am loathe to decorate much. The suitcases are my esthetic answer to moving around too much. They are so much more decorative than cardboard boxes, and come with convenient handles for carrying.

 

Lee Henderson: My chair is comfortable but broke, it suddenly pitches forward. My little table is bust, the leg out-of-view has been held together with duct tape for about eight years. But look at that shelf beside my broken table and broken ergonomic chair, isn't it amazing?

 

Jordan Scott: Spit litters Pitt Lake’s syllables. A space of work and wordmongers, of word lore and work ethic. Here, I work the oracle, work word of mouth into passages. Here, I eat my way through lake and bloat the colours left in after devour.

 

Janet Marie Rogers: My space, with the word machine and the art, is very Indian. Our words and visuals are married together. Our cultures are born from the things we value and our words help define what those values are.

 

Linda L. Richards: I don’t need silence. Or special music. Or chattering. Or noise. I need a moment—a heartbeat—to slip into the world where my story lives.

 

Teresa McWhirter: There have been points in my life when I've lived alone, had a desk and my own computer, a printer, shelves of books around me. Other times it's just been me and my journal. It would be lovely to have an entire room for writing. But all you really need is a pencil.

 

C.C. (Chris) Humphreys: It has been nice, after all the wandering, to gather the paraphernalia from a life spent travelling, acting and writing – touchstones to run to when inspiration fails, or words have become too treacherous.

 

Heather Burt: My desks are usually cluttered with unwriterly bits and pieces, and I’d say the amount of clutter that appears in this photo is just about right. Any more and the junk would become too distracting. Much less and my awareness of the contrast between the tidiness of the space and the stubborn scruffiness of my work-in-progress would become paralyzing.

 

Nancy Lee: On most days, my desk is a treacherous intersection: obligation t-bones intention and the unpaid job of generating that day’s words crashes headlong into the reality of my dwindling bank account.

 

Aislinn Hunter: I’ve moved and travelled so much this past three years that my little black notebook has become my desk. I put everything in it—whole drafts of poems, notes on the novel, simple observations—and carry it everywhere.

 

Steven Galloway: I like to make odd outlines and charts, and I also tend to pin up various photographs and maps and scraps of paper, so one whole wall will be cork board and another will be covered in acrylic plexiglass to make a sort of dry erase board system.

 

Timothy Taylor: I rent an office on the edge of Gastown. It’s in an old tower built in 1910. I like the building. It’s a sort of contemporary Vancouver rendition of A.J. Leibling’s Jollity Building. Lots of one-man bands and good causes. Artists, theater troupes, a scamster or two no doubt.

 

Matt Rader: My writing habits have less to do with any particular room, or even any particular arrangement, than the idiosyncrasies of my personality and body. I need to be able to get up and pace, to crouch upon my chair like some kind of weak-backed gargoyle, to let my legs unwittingly tremor.

 

David Chariandy: I need physical distance from both my personal life and day-job, near quiet (or at least rigorously controlled levels of 80s pop music), and anonymity in an otherwise social space. I need a source of electricity for my laptop and a source of coffee for my brain.

 

Brendan McLeod: Trekking out each day to go write in public is kind of like a modern take on being a hunter-gatherer. Your lone goal is to find a place with proper sustenance (coffee, muffins, and water fountains) and shelter (air conditioning, wireless internet access, and good lighting).

 

Anne Giardini: Going to my office feels like penance sometimes, unless the work is going very well. Then it feels as if I have made a leap and the air is holding me suspended above the ground.

 

Mary Novik: I write in a large room overlooking a stream that runs down into MacKay creek. Books and papers are everywhere. I'm blessed with a generous space and the quiet to go with it.

 

Charlotte Gill: I adore working in cubby-like environments, preferably with just enough room for a desk to squeak in between the walls. I think it’s a security thing, the way dogs like to hang out under coffee tables.

 

Gillian Wigmore: I have a nomadic existence in the suburban house I share with my husband and two small kids - I move to the place with the least mess at the end of the day and that's where I set up shop.

 

Andrea MacPherson: My office is an anomaly in our house. It’s more cluttered, more feminine, more sentimental than any other room. I spend long, unbroken hours here, staring out the two big windows.

 

Spider Robsinson:Some of my very best writing has been done in that office. And even those hours spent staring at a blank screen until beads of blood form on my forehead are easier to take, there.

 

Gail Anderson-Dargatz: My desk is covered in the "gifts" my children bring me every couple of minutes: dandelions and forget-me-nots, rocks, leaves, dead beetles (and a few lives ones), scraps of paper that say "I love you" or, from my four year old, scribbles that, alarmingly, closely resemble my own handwriting.

 

Billie Livingston: At home in Vancouver I might be on the couch, or smooshed into a corner on the floor, stuffed with pillows. It is unlikely that I’d be at my dining table/desk but I might hole up in bed.

 

Madeleine Thien: Each morning, I carry my pot of coffee on a silver tray up three flights of stairs. I re-arrange the wicker furniture to my liking, then I pour small puddles of water around the legs of my chair and table to prevent the battalions of ants from attacking.

 

Elizabeth Bachinsky: Some writers I know are very into spontaneity and the lack of artifice spontaneity can bring. Sometimes I’m that writer, sometimes not. I don’t know if I could tell you where or how.

 

Jen Sookfong Lee: When I’m sitting at my desk, all I see out my window are trees and bush, finches and hummingbirds, and this tricks me into believing that I don’t live in a big city and am writing from a cabin on Cortes Island.