Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Where Writers Write: Lydia Millet

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 some of TNBBC's favorite authors roll up their sleeves and make the magic happen. 

This is Lydia Millet. She's the author of The Shimmers in the Night, a brand-new novel for middle readers that is the second in the Dissenters series that began last year with The Fires Beneath the Sea. She’s also written fiction for adult readers, including the short-story collection Love in Infant Monkeys, a Pulitzer Prize finalist.

Today, Lydia shows us where she finds her inspiration to write:

Where Lydia Millet Writes

I drive 35 minutes across a mountain range to take my two young children to school in the morning, and I stay in the city till school ends, since I don’t want to traverse the mountain pass four times a day and I like to stay close to the kids. I edit press releases for six hours daily and intersperse that with writing my books, whenever I have half an hour free; it’s a hybrid life. I like to write in public, with a low hum of noise but nothing too intrusive, so I float from venue to venue seeking subdued company and avoiding crowds.

Coffee. First there’s a bagel emporium. I’d prefer a local, hipster coffee shop to a franchise, but this is a chain-store part of town. Most of the regulars are retired, plus there’s a huge group of mentally challenged adults from an assisted living facility. Finally, most every day there’s a table of gun-wielding cops from the corner sheriff’s station, and sometimes a fireman from across the street. Emergency services abound. Advantage: Manager attractive; on bathroom runs, laptop completely safe from crime. Disadvantage: When retirees, cops and challenged enter at once, horrible din.

Food. Then there’s a diner across the sun-baked parking lot where I can get a salad, if I have time for lunch, and work as I eat. Here again I’d prefer a more idiosyncratic décor, but beggars can’t be, etc. My weekday life is a mini-mall. This place has sports on TV, but not too loud. Advantage: Booths, ranch dressing. Disadvantage: Insides freeze from giant cups of ice water + Arctic A/C. Waitress won’t hold the ice. Violent shivering.

“Fitness.” Next I work in a small lounge that’s actually part of the women’s change room at my gym, a character-void national chain where TVs surround me once again, tuned to things like FOX, and pop music plays incessantly, most of it repugnant. When I’m not typing I emerge from the change room, much like an ogre clumping out of its cave, to drape myself slowly and sadly over an exercise machine. The lounge is a conversational danger zone; one personal trainer comes in with a headset and talks loudly to a boyfriend in prison. Another health enthusiast, seemingly insane, has a beauty routine that lasts two full hours. Advantage: Puffy armchair; fitness potential, chiefly latent. Disadvantage: Half-naked, hard-bodied individuals saying bad things; many have pink acrylic talons.

The Library. Finally it’s over to the public library to finish out the workday. Here the lights are far too bright, like every other place I work, and there are a number of homeless patrons, mumbling/smelling. If I were homeless, I’d be here too. Advantage: I love libraries and librarians categorically. Disadvantage: Rage at cell-phone talkers. Festering.

Check back next week to see where Dinty Moore encourages his writing mojo.

1 comment:

  1. I'm amazed how many writers can pull this off, moving from one outlet to another. I've read Lydia's books for years and can't wait to finish the trilogy. It makes sense that she isn't holed up in some precious work space.