As a writer, I am often asked if I need a specific place or space to do my writing. That may be true for many writers, but for me the resounding answer is NO.
Since I’ve always had a day job, I’ve always had to carve out a little bit of time or space from my structured day wherever and whenever I could to write. I would write at home on weekends or evenings; at work I would write on breaks or lunch hours. In my early years I often wrote longhand on legal pads so I could take my writing with me anywhere and jot a few lines as the spirit moved me. I worked for the phone company for many years, so I have a lot of notes scribbled on customer service contact memos. I actually wrote my romance satire, The Pits of Passion, purely on breaks in the lunch room of the phone company. I used to go to break expecting to write, only to find that all the pages of my legal pad had been parceled out to everyone else on break so they could all keep up with the latest action. I had to hunt down the last page and take it forcibly so I could continue the story.
So having a quiet little bubble to write in was never an issue. I guess I’m lucky that way, or unlucky. Not having the “right” environment has never stopped me, but then again, I don’t have any excuse (not the right lighting, not the right temperature, not the right ambiance) to not write.
Recently I found myself thinking about that perfect place to write. My husband and I were lucky enough to spend a few days after New Year’s at our favorite place on the planet—the Grand Canyon. We had rented a cabin only steps from the South Rim. In the winter there are much fewer tourists around than during the summer, so it was almost idyllic. However, it was frickin’ freezing! The low in the morning was -2º; the wind chill took it to -10 º, but if we were lucky, it warmed up to maybe 28 º during the day. Now, I’m not a native Arizonan, but after 25 years in Tucson, I’m pretty spoiled by mild winters the rest of the country only dreams about. Trying to hike snow-covered trails in -10 º slashing wind is not exactly my definition of relaxing. We’d hike for a bit, feel our faces and fingers begin to go numb and duck into a restaurant for a cup of hot. Later we’d go out and face the wind again, but it really had to be taken in small doses, and those respites of toasty warm air and hot drinks felt like heaven.
I got to thinking how nice it would be to have my own cabin and at times like this, have a nice warm corner with big windows that looked out over the canyon. Full view of this scenic wonder, a hot cup of tea, maybe a couple of cookies for good measure or my cat sleeping on my desk … I could go for that. I’m not really sure how productive I’d be with that distracting view, but I’d sure like to try it out.
The best thing about the canyon is the solitude. Oh, I’m not talking about the area right behind Bright Angel Lodge where every tourist and their brothers gather to take that iconic picture on their cell phones. I’m talking about the wild spaces just yards down the trail where 99% of the tourists never go. When we were there, the most traveled areas were of course cleared of snow by the gazillions of feet that shuffled about, but we didn’t have to go very far before the trails were smothered in white stuff. Since we’re blessed with abundant sunlight here, the snow melts during the day and then refreezes at night, so there were plenty of places that were glassy with ice. It’s not hard to deduce that losing one’s balance at the edge of the Grand Canyon is not a good idea. Rather than take the slippery scenic rim trail, we opted for the deeper snow back amid the trees. The walking was easier and we didn’t have to be quite so careful. And it turned out we weren’t the only ones who thought that way.
We hadn’t been walking long when I wanted to stop and take a picture of the sparkly snow. Because of the low humidity here (single digits, usually), the snow tends to be powder dry, and the ice crystals sparkle like diamonds. It’s a beautiful phenomenon, but is hard to catch with a camera. Getting the right angle and the right light took some figuring. As I was working on that, my husband said, “Don’t move.”
I looked up and saw the most gorgeous mule deer staring back at me. We’d inadvertently taken the same unofficial trail as a large mulie doe and her year-old son who was just barely sporting nubs on his forehead. Being very used to all the people that mill about the canyon, the deer were not the least bit afraid of us, although they did keep their distance as we moved closer to them. They simply wandered a bit further off, but continued their slow grazing on tufts of green that broke through the snow. We enjoyed their company for many long minutes, taking plenty of pictures, then moved off to leave them in peace. It was time again to get out of the cold and back into the warmth of a cozy room.
Grand scenery, the peace of natural places, the beauty of wild creatures … yes, I could write in a place like that.
Anybody got a cabin they’re not using?