A Room With a View

I am looking out of the window from our hotel room at the Westin Bonaventure in Los Angeles, California. Thankfully, for this professional conference my husband is attending, we were given a room that faces the Los Angeles Public Library, an historic and beautiful building. The hotel itself is the location for several films: In the Line of Fire, True Lies, and Nick of Time, to name a few.IMG_2800Film crews have been setting up all day to film at 5th Street and Flower just beside the library, and I have enjoyed watching them unload huge lights, gigantic cord spirals, and other items I do not recognize. Amplifiers and generators? Storage containers? Electric tools? They have built a structure that looks like a portion of the street after an explosion, and now they are spreading around a black powder that will likely produce some special effects. We were told by the hotel staff that there will be shooting sounds and a car explosion at 10 p.m. tonight. With such a lively and interesting view, I am writing, contentedly settled at the desk in our room, where I will be for several more hours.IMG_2813I know many writers, poets, painters, and musicians, and as you would expect, they all have individual methods for their work, settings they like, environmental preferences. As Alexandra Enders noted in her article called “The Importance of Place: Where Writers Write and Why”:

Conrad Aiken worked at a refectory table in the dining room; Robert Graves
wrote in a room furnished only with objects made by hand. Ernest Hemingway
wrote standing up; D. H. Lawrence under a tree. . . Ben Franklin wrote in the
bathtub, Jane Austen amid family life, Marcel Proust in the confines of his bed.

She also notes that many writers “choose libraries, intermediate spaces that aren’t totally isolated but are quiet, protected, and controlled.” When I toured the Los Angeles Public Library earlier today, I felt myself being drawn to the quiet spaces scattered here and there, especially spaces that displayed tables.IMG_2815I am ultra-sensitive to the environment wherever I am. My long-suffering husband is the exact opposite. He can thrive and work almost anywhere, especially if he has a cup of coffee. My friends know that the ambiance in any given restaurant is supremely important, and it may take me a few minutes to select the right spot (away from bright light, chairs not too hard, tables not wobbly, tasteful décor, no brash TV noises, no traffic behind my chair). Thankfully, they usually allow me to select the space. My senses are so acute that loud noises can seem traumatic, bright light can feel like an assault, and the wrong person seated in the next booth or at the next table can ruin the day’s experience.  At home, I can create the right environment, and when we are traveling or venturing out, I love it when an opportune setting is available. This desk at the Bonaventure is now a sacred spot, and as the sun and clouds shift and create new moods on the landscape, I am having a productive writing day.

Earlier, I sat in the lobby, and I occasionally venture out to hotel lobbies to think and write. The Bonaventure lobby is splendid for many reasons, not the least of which is the beautiful fountain. People watching, the sound of water splashing, a sound table and a chair that doesn’t wobble — these are gifts.IMG_2771 (1)What is the setting in which you write? Are you particular or easygoing about your setting? Do you require certain accouterments? Whatever the case, we all seem to find our way through whatever impediments present themselves. Vive la différence!

Enders, Alexandra. “The Importance of Place: Where Writers Write and Why.” Poets and Writers: The Literary Life. March/April 2008. Web 30 Jan 2016.

24 thoughts on “A Room With a View

  1. What subject matter works best for a subway car? I can easily understand that, since I felt inspired when I rode the Seattle ferries. If I lived there, I would ride the ferry every morning and write a poem!

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  2. As I start writing, I prefer quiet, absolutely no distractions. Once I’m deep into my writing, I can usually tune out distractions, like my cats begging for attention or my husband’s comings and goings. But if I don’t have quiet to start with … it won’t matter how comfortable the chair or the desk. And if there’s a window with a lovely view, well, that’s a distraction. Many times I’ve been thrown off the rails by the activity of birds 😉

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  3. I have a desk in my living room. It’s by the window at the back of the house and it gives me a view of the backyards of the surrounding houses on the estate. It’s not the greatest of views, mainly small town Scotland.

    I have the radio nearby but I can’t usually write to music because the lyrics effect what I’m doing. I can however listen to any kind of spoken word so phone ins, interviews or documentaries are fine.

    I do often wish for a dedicated writing room however, perhaps slightly further away from my PlayStation 4 to reduce temptation.

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    1. Small town Scotland sounds quite wonderful! Yes, temptations abound. I find that listening to recordings of waves helps me to concentrate. Interesting that you can listen to documentaries and interviews without them affecting your work. Would love a photo of your view?

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      1. Oh and as requested and taken earlier today when the sun was actually shining over South West Scotland….

        Yes, LA has a view of film sets and libraries whilst I get my shed.

        I also washed my windows. They were pitted with dirt after the storm.

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  4. The photos are wonderful, Carla. That first one is so intriguing as I scanned down the post because it is stunning and brilliant and then moves into the mundane. Bright lights are a complete assault on me. They are the #1 trigger for severe complicated migraines and I live my life hiding from bright lights, especially fluorescents and those new lights they use in place that I think are even worse although they appear less bright. In that respect I am very sensitive to my environment. It wears on me to have people around me, but it’s very hard for me to find time when I am alone. I prefer to be alone with my computer and in my own house with my cats. No external germs, no external people, and I can grab a snack, a sweater, whatever I need. I tend to heat up and cool down as I write and have to take off a sweater, then put it on. I am always craving the day I can have hours in my coral, black, and ivory office with the windows of Marshal’s pretty landscaping, but it never happens.

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  5. I find that I write my freelance articles better at my home office desk, but my creative writing is so much better on my laptop in my living room, surrounded by comfy-cozy things that make me feel comfortable and safe and creative.

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    1. That is interesting, Robin. Different settings for different types of work! I like that blend: “comfortable and safe and creative.” Yes to all that! Thanks for reading and commenting. 🙂

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  6. Yes, Luanne, I feel somewhat the same about bright lights, though the bright sun can feel even worse if I am in a dark restaurant. I am always pulling down the blinds at Starbucks or asking a waitress to pull them down at a restaurant. Would love to see a photo of the office! I will wish you into the office for several hours this week. 🙂

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  7. That sounds like an exciting place to write – though possibly too many distractions out of the hotel window! I tend not to write so much in public places as I feel more comfortable at home, but if I’m in the middle of a flow and using my notebook and pen, I can write pretty much anywhere.

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  8. Andrea – Writing in public spaces can be challenging for many writers, and I know what you mean about the distractions. On the other hand, public spaces can provide inspiration. I also enjoy writing at home, although I find plenty of distractions there also (cleaning, laundry, phone calls). When I am in the zone (mentioned in the first post), the distractions are no longer tempting or threatening. Being able to write anywhere is certainly the prime goal! Thanks for your comment!

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