Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Where Writers Write: Margaret Chapman

Welcome to another installment of TNBBC's Where Writers Write!

Where Writers Write is a series that features authors 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 Margaret Patton Chapman. 

Her novella Bell and Bargain is forthcoming from Rose Metal Press in November, 2014 as part of the collection My Very End of the Universe: Five Novellas-in-Flash and a Study of the Form. She is fiction editor of decomP MagazinE and her short fiction has appeared in Wigleaf, The Collagist, Juked, and the anthology The Way We Sleep, among others.  She received her MFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and recently moved from South Bend, Indiana, where she was teaching writing, back to her hometown of Durham, North Carolina.  You can find more of her work at

Where Margaret Chapman Writes

I have always wanted to be one of those writers whose process was routine, who got up at 7:00 or 5:00 or 9:00 everyday, went to my desk or overstuffed chair in my writing shack or my fancy office, wrote a few thousand words, checked things off my list.

I don’t do that, though.  Instead, I find a time and place to write when I can and when I need to.  I write all over the place.  A major revelation to me was when I learned that writing in bed was a viable part of a writer’s process.  I have written quite a lot in bed.  I have also written a lot in hotel beds, in vacation rentals, in guest beds in other people’s houses.

At home, I go through phases. I move through the house, following the sun, writing in one room after another as the seasons change.  I’ve moved around a lot, too, since I started thinking of myself as a writer, and so my arrival at each new home has been accompanied by a sussing out of its best writing spaces, and how they work best.  This usually involves a lot of furniture moving.

For this post, I rummaged through old images of of desks I’ve had, writing places, nooks I hid out in with my laptop.  I miss a few of them, and I began imagining a house of writing spaces, a fantasy “writing shack” in which each room was just for writing: a writing bed, a writing kitchen, half a dozen rooms with desks and chairs and bright windows.

One of my favorite places to write, in any place I have lived, was my writing porch at my old house.  Much of the writing I’m currently publishing was done there.  It was a little upstairs “sleeping porch” with windows all around. There were plenty of trees around for shade, but it faced south and when the trees lost their leaves the sun blazed in, keeping it bright and warm in Indiana winters.

In my new house, I don’t have a writing porch, but I’m trying to turn the small office into a sunny writing place.  Wherever I write there are a few things I prefer to have around me:  college ruled steno pads, note cards, small post-it notes, a bulletin board, and a few cute things (animal figurines, drawings, postcards from friends).  In her essay on this site, Anne Valente called these little guys totems.  I like that. 

At my new place, I’m still sussing out the best space, but I like this room.  There are chickens in the yard next door, and a contraband rooster, who crows throughout the day.  The leaves will stay on the trees longer, so there’s not as much light in the room.  It’s still the sunniest place in the house, and I’m liking camping out here for now.

1 comment:

  1. Love the "sleeping porch" space... Fun, ironically can see how editing from the comfy green chair might turn dormitive. I tend to write whenever/wherever the kids aren't. :) Love this series. Good luck all!