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 Anne Valente.
Her first short story collection, By Light We Knew Our Names, releases from Dzanc Books in October 2014. She is also the author of the fiction chapbook, An Elegy for Mathematics (Origami Zoo Press, 2013).
Her fiction appears in Hayden’s Ferry Review, Ninth Letter, The Journal, and Redivider, among others, and won Copper Nickel’s 2012 Fiction Prize. Her work was also selected as a notable story in Best American Non-Required Reading 2011, and her essays appear in The Believer and The Washington Post.
Where Anne Valente Writes
I’ve moved around a lot in the past few years, with lots of different writing spaces, but this is where I currently write: in a small corner of my current apartment, painted lime-green by the previous tenants. Though my writing space seems to constantly be changing, a few things remain constant: tea, the small totems I keep on my desk, and a view of the outdoors. When I first moved into this apartment, I pushed the desk up to the window immediately. It helps my writing process to be able to stare out the window at constant change – the sun rising each morning though sometimes through clouds, sometimes the moon still visible, sometimes rain or snow or the trees bending in the wind. Out this particular window, a family of finches lands on the brick ledge most mornings. They shake their feathers and peep and sometimes they peer into the window at me.
Since I write in the morning, I always have tea. My sister gave me this small teapot a few years ago that is perfect for the writing zone. I’ve never been much of a coffee drinker, but I could spend hours in a teashop. Right now, the piles anchoring both sides of my desk consist of my notes/schematics for the novel I’m currently working on, notes for the production of my short story collection due out in October, and notes for a craft essay on time in the novel. Behind the piles and the teapot, I keep a bamboo plant that my parents gave me after my very first reading in 2009. They drove from St. Louis to Ohio just to be there, and they brought this little bamboo plant for good luck. I’ve never had much of a green thumb, but I’ve kept this plant’s watering schedule on my calendar for the past five years and counting.
I also keep a collection of writing totems on my desk for inspiration, a collection that seems to keep growing. Here, I have a snow globe and a cat figurine and a small ceramic bird, all gifts from close friends. They remind me to keep imagining. I also have a small collection of antique pill boxes that belonged to my grandmother, a jellyfish paperweight from the Seattle Aquarium (it glows in the dark!), a plastic dinosaur that was part of my Halloween costume in 2009 and reminds me of my MFA cohort at Bowling Green, and the little plastic ring my husband gave me when we got engaged. I like to keep the people I love around me in totems, like they’re all there with me in the room when I write.