A Table Of Her Own – The Writing Space of Marybeth Whalen

Marybeth’s Table At Panera

Last month, Kimberly Brock talked about being a traveling writer, an itinerant creative who writes wherever she can find a quiet spot. That would be true of me as well. With six kids and a husband who works from home, the idea of an office is a luxury. I do have a closet, though, if that counts. I’ll never forget when my husband told me he was giving me that closet to do with as I pleased right after we moved in. I don’t think he’s ever given me a nicer gift. I do love that closet.

Recently I did a Q&A at a library and one of the participants asked me where I write. Without batting an eye, I said, “On my bed.” They all laughed like I’d told a joke. But I was serious. I sit on my bed with pillows propping me up and my laptop perched on my lap and type away. It might not be glamorous. I may not have some gorgeous, inspiring view. I may not have framed book covers and news clippings surrounding me and encouraging me to press on. But I have my computer and– by hook or by crook– I’ve  found a place to write.

For this post, I shared a photo of my favorite corner at Panera, a local eatery where I can go write when life gets too noisy and  crazy  at the Whalens. I’ve also used the library, the cafe in Barnes and Noble, and the front seat of my car. The desperate can not be too proud. The point, I’ve found, is not the where. It’s the what. What am I writing? What’s my word count goal for that day? What is my character struggling with?

When I focus on the what, the where doesn’t matter at all. I can write through a child jumping on and off my bed, constant interruptions, and a ringing phone. I can write through loud conversations at nearby tables, the acrid scent of burned bagels, and the endless beeping of cash registers. With a good set of headphones and Pandora, I’m good to go. In all my wandering, I  have found a place to write. It might not be perfect, but somehow, it works.

About Ariel Lawhon

Ariel Lawhon is the author of THE WIFE THE MAID AND THE MISTRESS (2014), FLIGHT OF DREAMS (2016), and I WAS ANASTASIA (2018). Her books have been translated into numerous languages and have been Library Reads, One Book One County, and Book of the Month Club selections. She is the co-founder of SheReads.org and lives in the rolling hills outside Nashville, Tennessee, with her family.

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2 Responses to A Table Of Her Own – The Writing Space of Marybeth Whalen

  1. Tedra July 18, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    I totally agree. I do my best writing when there’s people moving around, the tv running, music going. It works.

  2. Natalie July 18, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    Wow! It’s great to know I’m not the only one writing in my car, in my bathroom, on my bed…

    My family is in the States for the summer and staying with family has given me my share of odd writing places. But, like you, I focus on the word count, the character’s struggles, the story’s story and I write.

    Thanks for encouraging me, as a new writer, that even the best struggle with the simple things like creative writing space. It’s reassuring to know I’m in good company-even if it’s on the toilet, with the door locked and a houseful of kids asking me if I’m done yet!!

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