My preferred cubicle at the Writers Workspace

“So what do you do now that you don’t have the Hemingway House?” I get that question a lot since my writer-in-residence gig wrapped up, usually from someone I run into at my local supermarket or my kids’ school.

“Don’t worry,” I want to say, “I’m not a homeless writer. I can sit on my couch and write.”

In fact, my sister recently asked me, “Is there a place where you feel you write best?”

“Honestly,” I replied, “there isn’t.”

“That shows a certain degree of professionalism or security in what you do, doesn’t it?” she countered.

I guess it does. I’ve plugged my laptop into my car’s outlet and finished an essay while my son was at basketball practice. I’ve borrowed a pen from a fellow airplane passenger to scribble in my notebook (embarrassing to have no pen on me as a writer!) I guess I’ve grown in my development as a writer to where I can do write anywhere, provided I have pen and paper or a computer. I don’t need a specific spot; I don’t even need peace and quiet or a particular atmosphere.

But still, it is nice to have a place to write, an office so to speak. So when that neighbor at the supermarket asks me, “So what do you do now?” I say, “I go to the Writers WorkSpace.”

The Writers WorkSpace, a communal workspace for writers on Chicago’s northside, is my new digs for writing, my new “office.” It’s also within short driving distance of my son’s school, so I can drop him off and then come to the WWS to work.

Last night I was looking forward to today because I knew I’d have a whole day to write. To hole myself up here at WWS and put the finishing touches on my book manuscript and send it off on its merry way. I spent six weeks here this summer, coming every morning while my son was at summer school, working on rewriting the manuscript. It was really the ideal writing schedule (more on that in another post).

Having a place to go and write is something I don’t need, but something I have come to appreciate, thanks to my time as writer-in-residence at the Hemingway Birthplace Home. Oh, I do miss that bohemian attic!

But my new digs at the Writers Workspace are good, too. In fact, WWS offers something my solitary studio in the Hemingway attic didn’t: The presence and sometimes camaraderie of other writers. At the WWS, I am the company of others quietly clicking and tapping away at their laptops (in fact, Aleksandar Hemon purportedly likes working here although I haven’t met him yet). In this sense, WWS is more like a residency–I’m surrounded by others pursuing their craft; I’m not the only one in the dogged pursuit of some writerly success! This buoys me on, and so I look forward to my next day here, to showing up for work.