A Porcelain Cat and Other People's Words
All cooks create in a kitchen. The kitchen can be small and basic, or Top Chef shiny ready, but all chefs use tools of the trade that make them feel comfortable and inspired within the walls of their space. Maybe it’s Grandma’s old mixing bowl, or a professional knife that no one else is allowed to touch. Maybe it’s a hand towel with Christmas puppies on it. Whatever the tool, I bet they help the cook make food taste better.
I think writers are the same way.
So what are my tools of the trade? The equivalent of a Top Chef’s favorite knife? Right now I’m loving BIC .7mm mechanical pencils – super cheap. My favorite markers are MICRO-LINE .3mm - don’t bleed through like Sharpies, and my favorite journals are Leuchtturm1917. Dotted. 8 by 5 ¾ .
These are the things I can carry with me whenever I write. I take them to Starbucks (the big one across from Pottery Barn if you’re a Palos Verdes local!), or the quiet section of the Peninsula Library, but my favorite tool of the trade is pretty big. Like big as a room big. It’s my writing studio (aka guest bedroom central when friends or family visit).
In my writing studio, I am surrounded by objects that help me write better. Every item holds a story that inspires, or connects me to a person. I’ve got a porcelain cat, purchased at the Pasadena UNICEF Store, when I was on an 8th grade field trip. She reminds me of Great Grandma Azile because she loved cats. And I’m surrounded by other people’s pages. Mentor texts that inspire me, written by authors who show me the path for getting my own words on the page.
All are common objects that make me feel warm and cuddly inside because I think writing is all about connecting with people. (NOTE to my introvert self, posing as an extrovert: The big win here is that I get to write alone for most of the time, and then resurface and connect with humans when I’m good and ready.)
Here's another thing about my sweet room in the back of the house. I think of it as the SETTING for my writing process. Just like when we read, SETTING (the time and place of a story) gives our brains a container for holding the plot and characters in a story. SETTING grounds us so we can make sense of all the complex details we’re about to receive. Writers, I'm going to apply this same idea to the process of generating writing. My studio gives me a container, a safe place with boundaries that holds lots of complex ideas until I can shape them into blog posts, essays, and even entire books.
So, yes, you may see me at Starbucks typing on my laptop, but I always return to my writing studio for the big work. It’s a humble room where the light is good, my dog takes naps, and an open screen door lets me hear the sound of the season’s first rain.