Monday, October 10, 2022

Where Writers Write: Jasmine Sawers

  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 Jasmine Sawers. 

They are a Kundiman fellow and Indiana University MFA alum whose work has appeared in such journals as Foglifter, AAWW’s The Margins, SmokeLong Quarterly, and more. Their fiction has won the Ploughshares Emerging Writers Contest and the NANO Prize, and has been nominated for Best of the Net, Best Small Fictions, and the Pushcart Prize. Sawers is proud to serve as an associate fiction editor for Fairy Tale Review. Originally from Buffalo, Sawers now teaches creative writing and pets dogs outside of St. Louis. To learn more, please visit

Where Jasmine Sawers Writes


When we moved last year, my spouse insisted I get a new desk, because I was still creaking away at the slowly disintegrating pile of lumber I’d bought for $20 at AMVETS in 2009. I resisted because the expense seemed exorbitant, but eventually he, and the bits falling off the old desk that could no longer be contained with tape, convinced me. I was fussy about the style, but ultimately, I picked a desk and got a slab of plexiglass for the top of it, because the wood was soft and I wanted to keep it undamaged as long as possible. I promised myself I would keep it in good shape, and scrupulously clean while I was at it. An organized desk is an organized mind. So obviously it looks like this.


 I remember going to my dad’s big roomy office when I was a kid, precarious stacks of paper and accordion folders stuffed to bursting strewn across the floor, his desk, everywhere. His colleagues’ offices were always much tidier. Pristine, even. Their diplomas on the walls, maybe some tasteful art. Files appointed precisely in place. Not Tim Sawers; why expend all that effort when you know exactly where everything is in your maze? What my mother might call laziness is, for me, the sense that I can’t get up and break the alchemical process of working, even to, say, take my medication, so it needs to be right there and so do any books or notes I will need to consult. I guess whatever forces dictate DNA roulette gave me not only my father’s face and hair but his tolerance for mess.


It gave me, also, his propensity for books. He’d leave his spy novels and old white man canon in little piles around his bed. They’d get shoved in his closet or under the bed or behind the skirt of his bedside table. And then he’d wonder where all his books went. I’ve had to make a concerted effort to keep my books in their proper places, and sometimes I fail nonetheless, stacks growing here and there like unchecked weeds. I’ve also had to move six times in the last ten years and have been ruthless in getting rid of what I didn’t need, love, or plan to read. Still, I am running out of space. I’m going to need another bookcase.



When conditions are perfect—that is, when the weather is cooperating, I have no obligations for the day, and I am experiencing an overabundance of executive function—I will find a park where I can go into the woods and be alone at a picnic table. I will bring a book to read and a notebook to write in. Last time I did this, I wrote Elephants Bury Their Dead.


Recently, I found a good spot on a lake in a state park.


 I can’t do couches or beds or coffee shops. I can’t do anything but sit upright someplace where my only company is myself and noise is limited. I find it uninteresting and rigid, much like my writing process itself, but I can’t say it doesn’t get shit done.

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