Welcome to another installment of TNBBC's Where Writers Write!
Where Writers Write is a weekly series that will feature a different author every Wednesday as they showcase their writing spaces using short form essay, photos, and/or video. As a lover of books and all of the hard work that goes into creating them, I thought it would be fun to see where the authors roll up their sleeves and make the magic happen.
This is Janice Deal.
Her stories have appeared in literary magazines including The Sun, CutBank, the Ontario Review, The Carolina Quarterly, StoryQuarterly, and New Letters, and in the anthology, New Stories from the Midwest. Her short-story collection, The Decline of Pigeons, was a finalist in the Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction, and she is the recipient of an Illinois Arts Council Artists Fellowship Award for prose. She is currently working on a novel.
Where Janice Deal Writes
I was writing not long ago when my daughter came in to where I was parked on the couch with my laptop, and announced that our bathroom ceiling looked “weird.” We’ve had a leak there once before and the paint is blotched, something I’ve meant to fix but haven’t gotten around to yet. I blithely told her not to worry, making vague reference to “that old stain,” then swung my attention back to my characters, Dixie and Val, currently raising hell up in northern Wisconsin.
“It’s not a stain, exactly,” she said carefully, edging a little closer. “More like a . . . bubble?” That caught my attention, so I left Dixie the hell-raiser to join Marion and check out the bathroom, where a giant bubble of water-filled paint had indeed bloomed on the ceiling. Oh. Plumber. Of course.
Did you know that the best way to manage a water-filled paint bubble is to pop it? Or that 11-year-olds are more observant than their myopic parents? No matter. Our bathroom is in good shape now, and when the time is right I will repaint the ceiling, but perhaps in a nutshell this reminds me why I write anywhere but at home. I get distracted, if not by plumbing emergencies, then by our three cats, who demand to be recognized as more important than work:
So it is that most of my short-story collection, The Decline of Pigeons – and now my novel-in-progress - got written, not at home, but in one of two places: Starbucks or Barnes & Noble.
I like the coffee in both locales, I like the warm vibe, and the white noise that comes with working in a public place is so non-specific to me (plumbing emergency? not my problem!) that I can easily tune it out. I tend to meet writer friends for “work dates” at these places; the Barnes & Noble near me has wonderful long wooden tables and outlets for laptops, and there’s a Starbucks not far away where they know me and get my latte going before I even say a word. It’s fun – even comforting - to have company and to work in “companionable silence” with someone else, and then when we’re done we might treat ourselves to lunch and catching up. In a profession often characterized by solitude, I appreciate this way to connect with my friends.
Sometimes at the end of the work day, if I’m at Barnes and Noble I’ll relax for a beat with a book.
And then I look forward to speeding home – wonderful home with its cheerful disarray, the towers of books and aging plumbing, the scuffed wooden floors and my child and my husband and those three crazy cats: so essential to my happiness, which, come to think of it, is that thing most conducive to my writing, after all.