Writing Gypsy – The Writing Space(s) of Kimberly Brock

Today’s post by this month’s featured author, Kimberly Brock | @kimberlydbrock

Photo courtesy of stock.xchng

Over the years, the space where I’ve written has changed through moves and travels and motherhood and so when I considered the topic for this blog, I was puzzled. I’ve watched as other authors posted beautiful photographs of serene spots, antique desks in front of windows that overlook rolling hills or sparkling lakes. Neat bookshelves typically stood nearby, steaming cups of coffee or delicate cups of tea perch on pretty, linen napkins, a sharpened pencil or two stands in a piece of glossy pottery, fluttering curtains let in a sweet breeze of inspiration.

I would look at these images and sigh. I would say to my husband, “Look at this. Look, she has a desk. She has a space of her own. Isn’t there some famous quote about that? See, she’s a real writer. I covet my neighbor’s writing space. That must be against some commandment. Something must be wrong with me. ”

“You’re a writing gypsy, ” he’d say and shrug.

“Doomed to wander the earth. ” I’d picture myself with a knapsack thrown over my shoulder, living out of a boxcar with only my laptop, a Tall Starbucks, and three ratty children with no shoes existing solely on fast food because I couldn’t provide a proper home and complete my novel at the same time. “I’ll never finish this book. ”

And I admit the truth is I’m standing at my kitchen counter while writing this. My coffee pot is directly in front of me for easy access. My four-year-old is watching cartoons (loud ones) and my husband is on a business call outside on the patio. (He’s had a shower. I have not.) The new puppy can see him through the kitchen door and is barking madly. My older two children are about the business of making microwave oatmeal, slamming cabinets and arguing about how much water to use. Ah, the writer’s life. You see, the truth is, I don’t have a writing space. In fact, now that I think about, I have never had a room of my own. I shared with my sister growing up. I shared with roommates in college. Now I share with my husband.

But before this starts to sound like I’m grumbling, let me clarify. While I have no writing space, I have a writer’s life to envy. Here’s what I mean.

While I was working on The River Witch, I often woke at three a.m. to find I was writing in my dreams and I watched my husband sleeping and knew my characters would embody love. I wrote one-handed while nursing babies and knew my story would reflect upon life and cycles, fear and innocence and miracles. I wrote on napkins in the preschool carpool line. I wrote by the pool in the summer. I wrote by the fire in winter and lying underneath the glow of the Christmas tree and looking out a window high above Time Square. I knew the book would be full of nostalgia and the unknown. I wrote while watching a north Georgia snowstorm and in the floor of the bathroom while my child was sick. I wrote on the back of a bulletin in church. I wrote in the bathtub and in the bed and in the closet and in the kitchen. I wrote in the parking lot at Target. I wrote in a miniscule hotel room in Paris. I wrote on a plane. I wrote looking over the San Francisco skyline. I wrote while I was in labor. I wrote on a south Florida island while drinking Sangria with a dear friend who gave me music and shells and water and let me drive her boat really fast. I wrote on the ride home from my grandmother’s funeral. I wrote with my fifteen-year-old terrier in my lap the day before he became a sweet memory. I knew the book would be wistful and harsh and full of hope. I wrote in conference centers full of eager, anxious writers. I wrote after long days at Disney World. I wrote while the battery in my car secretly died. I wrote while the sun came up in Hawaii. I wrote while the jarflies sang in the north Georgia twilight.

And one day, without a single space to call my own, I finished it.

And it’s true the book is full of all the things I’d hoped. And feared. It’s all in there. I don’t think I could have ever written it from a little desk, tucked into a neat corner, with complete peace and quiet, or gazing out a wide window at the sea, which would have only distracted me. Because, apparently I’m just not that kind of literary genius. I need chaos and color and flashing views through train windows, not a soft cushion or good light. I need someone pulling on my arm for more juice and dinner burning on the stove and piles of laundry moldering in the washing machine. I need to be jotting things down on old napkins at red lights, with the out-of-gas light blinking at me, living on the edge with a car full of melting groceries.

And now that I really take the time to consider it, I suppose I am a writing gypsy. It works for me.

Recently, a dear friend traveled to Key West where she visited Hemingway’s house and was invited to sit at his writing desk. Reverently, she placed her sweet fingertips on the keys of his typewriter. I can’t imagine the awe she must have felt in that moment. I shared the pictures she sent back on Facebook and was delighted for her. I thought of my own visit to the Margaret Mitchell House and how I’d gazed at her things in those small rooms. It made me think about this blog again and grumble about having to come up with an answer.

“When I die, ” I said to my husband, “will you set up a desk for people to come visit and will you lie for me? Do you love me enough to pretend I was normal? You’ll have to put a pretty tea cup out with sharpened pencils and make it look like I was wise and intellectual. And tell everybody I washed my hair every day before I sat down to write with the light falling beautifully across my furrowed brow? ”

He kissed me and promised. I married the right guy.

And now, I’m off to tie my handkerchief round my head and don my enormous, gold hoop earrings and thousands of bangle bracelets. Oh, and fix up a pitcher of Kool-Aid.

But if it makes you feel better, here’s a shot of my fake writing space.

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About Ariel Lawhon

Ariel Lawhon is co-founder of the popular online book club, She Reads, a novelist, blogger, and life-long reader. She lives in the rolling hills outside Nashville, Tennessee with her husband and four young sons (aka The Wild Rumpus). Her novel, THE WIFE THE MAID AND THE MISTRESS, will be published in January 2014 by Doubleday. Ariel believes that Story is the shortest distance to the human heart.

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12 Responses to Writing Gypsy – The Writing Space(s) of Kimberly Brock

  1. Alma Katsu June 27, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    Kimberly, That was a wonderful post. It had me thinking ‘why can’t I write a post like that?’

    I used to be able to write anywhere, anytime. I especially like airports & time on the plane. Now I have to be completely alone and even then it’s a struggle.

    Love your fake writing space! (I’m at the dining room table as I type…)
    best, Alma

  2. Robin O'Bryant June 27, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    Love this post so much!

  3. Ariel June 27, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    Brilliant! Loved it. And so very apt for this wandering writer. You had me wanting to sing “Gypsies, Tramps, and Thieves” as I read!

    I always love to see where our featured authors write but this is by far my favorite post in this series.

    Thanks for sharing!

  4. Cynthia Robertson June 27, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    OMG, I love this post. You’ve got me grinning ear to ear, Kimberly. The paragraph where you describe all the places you’ve written was so beautiful; like a tour through your years of writing The River Witch. And what a triumph for you, to have finally succeeded, through all that movement. Like a reporter of old, you write on the fly.

    You make me feel so much better about where and how I write. I never had a 'writing space’ until this last year, when my husband gave up his half of our home office to allow me that space. But even now, it hardly looks like the dream space you so hilariously describe, since it still has more of function and utility about it, than harmonious and poetic beauty. The one concession is a really gorgeous view of our backyard out the window: blue pool, blue Arizona sky, cascading bougainvillea and alien cacti. But after reading this I will never again dream of a beautiful writing room. (Okay, that’s a lie, I still will…but I won’t feel bad if I never obtain the ideal, haha!)

    Lovely writing, Kimberly. And now, more than ever, I look forward to reading your work.

  5. Satin Sheet Diva June 27, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    We writing gypsies definitely know how to make the most of the spaces we find ourselves in, lol. This is a wonderful post and a great perspective.

  6. Sally Kilpatrick June 27, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    Beautifully written. I need to take a moment.

    I finally have a spot of my own, but I’ll still write in a car, on a plane, at random kitchen tables, and in restaurants where I have set tables and will give the evil eye to anyone who has the audacity to sit there.

  7. Michelle Newcome June 27, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    I have a writing space – an entire studio all my own with candles and pens and . . . stuff.

    I can’t write there. It’s too crowded with talismans and projects and the weight of my own expectations.

    I think you have the magic of it locked down.

  8. bermudaonion (Kathy) June 27, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    I love this post! It just proves that you have that writing spark in you!

  9. Linda A. June 27, 2012 at 10:17 pm #

    What a wonderful post Kimberly! I was smiling all the way thru it. I have to admit I like seeing the space where authors write, but I can see how that space might be a myth to some writers. I am a reader and not a writer, so I like to imagine where the books are written. Thank you so much for sharing with us! I’m enjoying your book!

  10. ShellySCantrell June 28, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    That fake writing space ain’t got nothin’ on your wide open places… beautiful spaces… and your gypsy-kind-of-writing lifestyle.

    I LOVE this post! So authentic and organic… just like The River Witch.

    And, Kimberly, you’ve helped me to find words to describe my own writing space.

    Before I read your post, I always envisioned that I was weird because I did not have a specific space in which to craft poetic prose and reader-friendly, riveting tales. So, I usually avoided the question.

    Thank you for helping me to break out and adopt a new mindset. I right like the gypsy-kind-of-writing life I have; and you have helped me to understand that I’m not weird at all… and if I really am… there is at least one more like me. ; )

  11. Heidi Blankenship June 28, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    Beautiful post, Kimberly!
    Maybe I need to embrace my inner gypsy and stop waiting for my own space to appear. I need to write with life going on around me instead of hoping for big blocks of uninterrupted time. Thanks for the inspiration! Looking forward to reading your book.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. A Place To Call My Own » It's Only A Novel - September 13, 2012

    [...] eventually became what is now my current space.   Kim Brock wrote a lovely post about how she’s a writing gypsy — not tied to any one place, but writing anywhere and everywhere she [...]

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