Monday, March 25, 2013

The Writer's House





We have heard Charlie Rose interview many writers over the years. He often asks the author to describe his, or her environment. Many readers imagine that the place is somehow part of the inspiration, as if the house gives up the words, and the author just has to keep pace with the ideas. Given to magical thinking, as far back as I can remember, starting with trying to mimic Mary Martin in Peter Pan, and believing I could fly, I am not so sure that the home of any artist does not play a huge part in the creation. In any house in which I have lived, I first walked around trying to imagine where I would put my desk. In my current home, the former owner had set up a sewing counter, complete with drawers underneath, situated by a window facing the lake. In what had been a sun room when our home was built in the twenties, I was immediately drawn in.  I papered my study in blue and white stripes and then ordered a favorite pansy print from Laura Ashley. With my study all set up and ready to go, we put the computer in and soon found that everyone liked it. The kids played games and did their homework there and so it wasn't long before I moved the whole operation to a cozy nook in our bedroom. Over the years, I would come in and find someone sitting there too, but eventually, I reclaimed my initial idea.

My study has a comfortable chair and a sofa, as I sometimes lie down to think. It is a welcoming spot and cheery, as it gets the morning light. Windows on three sides and an alcove in the wall holding books, make it cozy. A corner cabinet has shelves with framed needlework pieces I have done over the years, tea cups and saucers, and  a picture of my beloved sister, Victoria Rose Smythe,  in her hacking jacket, atop her favorite horse called Sir Stafford. Pictures of my grandparents, my children and my mother and father, group shots from weddings, oh, its all here. My great aunt's tea wagon holds my mother's china birds; its as fine a nest as any writer would ever want.

We have reached a time in life when it is time to scale down and move on. It will all have to be recreated. Just as a novel begins with a blank page, a home starts with other peoples paint choices, counter tops and old carpets. The creative process begins anew. I have no doubt that my next writing space will be as charming as this one and that wherever I put it, the ideas will flow. Some writer's like to be closed into a small nook with the drapes drawn and the distractions down to the limit. As for me, I can recall writing with a sleeping baby in a carrier on top of my kitchen table. Virginia Woolf's oft quoted statement of women needing "A Room of One's Own,” hit a cord, because it is almost impossible to achieve! The days when I took to my bed with a cold, often had my husband stretched out reading, a cat and two children up there on the bed with us and the dog curled up on the floor at the side. I would have my computer on a breakfast tray, still trying to get my thoughts down while asking everyone if there was any other place they would rather be. When they would all chime in with, “No,” I considered myself lucky.

Campers like to linger at the their favorite campsite with the last cup of their morning beverage in hand. Striking the tent and dousing the fire, brings it all to a close. The canoes are then loaded, the journey beckons and the point is rounded; we set off into the great unknown.

From Listen to the Salutation to the Dawn, I am reminded of these words: “For yesterday is but a dream and tomorrow is only a vision, but today, well spent, makes every yesterday a dream of happiness and every tomorrow a vision of hope. Look well therefore to this day.”

Pictured above is the view from my study.  My home where I raised my children and wrote two books, will enter a new era, just as we set off on another adventure. This place will always remain with me in my mind, and I will always love it and think of it as my house of dreams. As the future beckons and as we begin another chapter in our lives, the one constant is my cherished Idaho and my beloved Lake Coeur d' Alene. I look forward to knowing it more deeply and more fully.

7 comments:

Jenni Gate said...

What a great way to approach a coming move. Your house must hold so many memories. In those moments of transition before you get fully settled, hold onto the thought that your new home will come to hold just as many.

Elizabeth S. Brinton said...

Thank you Jenni. We are about to transform our lives into something quite different, but home is where the heart is, as they say.

Kathy Cooney Dobbs said...

What a good writer you are, no matter what house you're in!

Kathy Cooney Dobbs said...

What a good writer you are, no matter what house you're in!

Elizabeth S. Brinton said...

Thank you!

Jennifer Lamont Leo said...

This is lovely. How brilliant to document what you've loved about the old, while looking forward to the new. I wish I'd taken some photos of my writing room back in Illinois. I should at least write down my memories of it before they fade.

Elizabeth S. Brinton said...

Thank you. It took many years to make this place feel like a reflection of me, and by extension, us. I am going to have to roll up my sleeves and make the new place feel like home.