Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Where Writers Write: Rita Dragonette

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

Where Writers Write is a series in which authors 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 Rita Dragonette. 

She is a former award-winning public relations executive turned author. Her debut novel, The Fourteenth of September, is a woman’s story of Vietnam which will be published this fall by She Writes Press. She is currently working on two other novels and a memoir in essays, all of which are based upon her interest in the impact of war on and through women, as well as on her transformative generation. She also regularly hosts literary salons to introduce new works to avid readers.

Where Rita Dragonette Writes

As I move off the cusp of transitioning from a consultant/part-time writer into full-time author status, I’ve been able to indulge a bit and turn my home office (a next-door condo) into a place with everything I always wanted in a writing space: lots of light, art for inspiration, a huge bulletin board for my outlines and notes, a giant desk, and lots of surfaces for all the stuff that surrounds a writer. What I particularly love are the ceiling-high bookshelves that make me feel like one of Max Perkins’s clients from the ’20s or ’30s. Hey, we’re writers . . . we imagine!

Planning this ultimate space was part of a process. I still struggle with establishing an intractable minimum three hours in the early morning as a writing schedule. I’m convinced that’s what is required to produce consistent work, and it’s my goal. So, it was important to make my work space esthetically pleasing, inspirational, comfortable, and a pleasure to spend so much concentrated time in, day in and day out. For example, I’ve filled it with art—mostly from great friends, including the four photographs that face my desk from brilliant photographer Karen Thompson. Looking up to see that genius as I stare off into space helps keep me on task. Once I’m here, I never want to leave and only depart when my neck and back decide they’ve had it for the day.

Practically speaking, after working on my dining room table for so long, I now am able to totally trash my work space (I’m a piler) and just close the door. What a luxury.

But to get started each morning I also needed to make sure my work space was sufficiently alluring not only to work in, but also to get me into. I have a tendency to go through the “concentric circles of procrastination” (my term for, first, I’ll clean out the refrigerator or pay all my bills), and that all-important boost to get me out of my kitchen, away from my newspaper, and down to the work of writing has to be wonderful or, in my case, musical.

Music was important to keep me in the mood while I was working on my novel, The Fourteenth of September. The story is set in the 1969-1970 time frame and those Soundtrack of Our Lives tunes are integral to the story. I can’t play music while I write (since I’d be singing along), but songs play in my head, scene by scene. I have even taken the seminal vinyl albums of the time and preserved their covers on a full wall as if they were art—and some of them genuinely are (Revolver, In Search of the Lost Chord). Knowing they are there, in the morning, after the newspaper, propels me towards my office. I open the door and pass the wall, scan the album covers and invariably a song “jumps out,” and lodges itself in the stereo of my mind to keep me company as I set up for the day…and I’m there.

It’s heaven.

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