Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Where Writers Write: Jane McLoughlin

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 Jane McLoughlin

She is an American from Minnesota who has lived in the U.K. for twenty years. She’s written screenplays, radio dramas, and has had several short stories published. She lives in Brighton with her husband and teenage children, and teaches English in a secondary school. At Yellow Lake (Frances Lincoln Children’s Books) is her debut novel.

Where Jane McLoughlin Writes

First, a bit of ancient history: I started writing when my kids were small (they are now VERY big) and so my first writing space was the kitchen table, where I’d bash out short stories on old manual Imperial typewriter. A few of these were published in literary magazines, but it took me longer to finish a story than to grow a baby and, as the stories weren’t all as amazing as my kids turned out to be, my “career” wasn’t particularly lucrative.
Still isn’t, as a matter of fact. But now that I no longer need to use correction fluid, little erasers with brushes, or those weird fiddly tapes, the writing process is at least less cumbersome, less messy (usually; see below) and less time-consuming.

Luckily, I’m still happy writing on a table in the bedroom, or in any room of the house. I don’t need any special equipment other than a fast keyboard and a well-lit screen. I don’t have any pictures around me or favorite mementos. Usually, I’m just surrounded by clutter: a pair of scissors, a coffee cup, part of yesterday’s newspaper, some loose change, a hair dryer, and even a towel and extra keyboard because I usually spill a cup of tea over everything!
So where I write has never been a huge issue for me. How I write is much more important. I need QUIET; no soundtrack, please. I need to be ALONE; no cafes, either. When I started to write neither of those conditions were available to me.

Hey, remember how Mum used to yell at us to leave her alone and be quiet?
Wasn’t that fun?

But there is one writing place that is special to me.

My family has a lake cabin in northern Wisconsin, and this place--the cabin, the surrounding forests, the lake--was the setting for my debut YA novel, At Yellow Lake. I didn’t write the entire book there, but I was looking out at its view while I wrote some of the book’s most difficult scenes.
It’s a beautiful place, as you can see. To use it as a setting where terrible things, as well as good ones, happen to the teenage characters I’d come to know and love should have seemed wrong. I don’t consciously mine my own life when I write. In this case, though, it seemed right to connect scary fictional events to a place where I’ve always felt safe and secure.

Maybe that’s what I need from a writing space: a sturdy anchor, in a calm harbour, so that I can visit dark, dangerous places and still find a safe passage home. 

Check back next week to see where Kathleen Rooney writes. 

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