Tuesday, May 24, 2011

My Desk and Four Other Unique Places Where I've Written

[Note: I am writing this post as the storms continue to strike our neighborhood.  Earlier the sirens wailed and apparently strong winds and hail were in the area. It's Spring Time in Texas.]

Today, participants in the Blogathon 2011 have been asked to blog on their five favorite places to write. As with previous themes, I am tweaking this a bit. I have chosen to write about unusual and not so unusual places I have written some of my most significant work.

The SAT Testing Site
I can't remember the exact high school, but I believe it was Skyline High School. While I was waiting for the administrative instructions for the SAT I got an idea for a short story. This is the first and only time an entire story just popped into my head. I rushed through the SAT so I could get home and write out my thoughts. That story, The Silent Master, was published in a small anthology of short stories written by high school students.  Edie Brickell was also included in the anthology.

The Foxhole
In January of 1991, I was serving on active duty at Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri to complete my officer basic course training. I was training as an engineer officer in the United States Army. Engineers spend a significant amount of time in the field. During one long training stretch, I was sitting in a foxhole, bored out of my gourd. Often we said in the Army, we hurry up so we can wait.  I was doing some serious waiting. In addition to picking up the bad habit of dipping snuff, I decided I could do some writing. I had a small Army note pad in my BDU's and I began writing letters to my girl back in Georgia. Somewhere along the way, I began incorporating a zombie story, Letters from the Dead.  Unfortunately, I lost all of those letters over the years, but the story has stayed with me. 

The Deck
When Stacey and I moved into the home we live in now, one of the things we liked about it was the deck and hot tub in the back yard. A few summers back I was completing my thesis paper for my Masters in Education. I set up a chair and used one of the benches as my desk. I began a morning ritual (it gets hot very early) of getting in some writing, while also smoking a Hemingway Short Story with my morning coffee. By the end of the summer, I had completed my work on Evaluating Magnet School Application Process for Racial and Gender Bias and smoked a box of my favorite cigars.

The Desk
Within the past year or so, I moved my writing to a desk in our bedroom. I wish I could say there was a profound reason for doing this. The truth is it was dictated by our new dogs, Calvin and Hobbes. We decided when we got them as puppies that they would not sleep with us in bed like our previous dog, Homer had done his entire life. Since the dogs go to bed at 9PM every night, I had to find a place to work that wasn't going to wake them.  So I cleared off the desk in the bedroom. This move has also permitted me to write when Stacey goes to bed. My participation in the Blogathon has taken place almost entirely at this desk. This experience has motivated me to jump start other writing projects. I suspect the majority of them will be at this desk.
Eucharistic Adoration Chapel for CRHP retreat.
The Chapel
I am a catechist at St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church. In addition to teaching a number of adult formation sessions, I have written several articles and posts on Catholic topics. Often when I am preparing to teach, I will spend some time in our Chapel, praying and studying. There is nothing unusual about either of those, however, one week I was in a jam and I needed to catch up on some of the writing for one of the sessions. I was worried people would think I was surfing the web or being disrespectful if I sat down with my laptop. It just so happened I was reading George Weigel's biography on Pope John Paul II, Witness to Hope.  In it, Weigel describes Pope John Paul II writing on a typewriter while in his chapel. I figured that was my sign that it would be ok to sit in the chapel and work on my laptop too. I now use my iPad regularly to pray, read and write in preparation for my teaching and writing for my church. I don't have to worry about lugging a bag into the chapel and I don't think it's as distracting to others.

Where do you like to write?

1 comment:

Michelle Rafter said...

Don: I love your chapel story; as a fellow Catholic, I don't think it's disrespectful at all to write when you're there, if you're writing something related to your church work. It must be very inspiring. I also think you win the prize for the most unusual setting for writing!

Michelle Rafter