A couple weekends ago, during the long Memorial Day holiday weekend, Dear Wife, Little B.T., Shasta Dog and I all packed in the family car and took a trip. We went to place we’ve been often, a wondeful hideaway in the nearby Nantahala National Forest in the southeastern edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains. It’s a frequent retreat of ours, and one we love deeply.
I didn’t do any writing while we were away. Circumstances worked out that I wasn’t able to – although I did do plenty of reading. Mostly this little family trip was about relaxing and enjoying our time together. And for me, there is very little more relaxing, little more enjoyable, and little more soul-enriching than time in the mountain forests. Up there, on top of the world, everything feels clean and fresh. The sky is bluer. The sun more friendly. The trees breathe with a vibrant life, and you feel connected to everything. The views and vistas are inspirational – the blue mountains rising all around you, the wildflowers in the forest clearings, the cultivated flowers in the gardens, the trees swaying gently in the breeze.
I always just feel more alive when I’m up in the mountains. I’m lucky that my Dear Wife feels much the same way. Shasta has always loved our excursions to the mountains, and it looks like Little B.T. is developing a similar fondness. In all my fond dreams and hopes for the future, this is what life looks like: a family-supporting writing gig living up in the mountains. I mean, there are a lot of ammenities associated with living near the city, near civilization. So maybe not living up their full-time. But for significant chunks of the year.
So Dear Wife got to talking and thinking about it, as we often do, and dreaming about it. We ask each other a lot about what our ideal this or our ideal that would be. Even though this particular trip didn’t involve writing, it resulted in us talking about what my ideal writing environment would be.
So while I realized that, in practical terms, I couldn’t live cut off from civilization full-time, at least not at this time in my life, the mountain and forest environment inflects my vision of the ideal writing space pretty strongly. In my idealized vision of my writing space, I have a small-to-moderate sized office. There are bookshelves (filled with my own books, of course, as well as my favorites and the best of others in my genre, and the like), and places to store various knick-knacks and bric-a-brac that are evocative of the sort of fantasy and speculative fiction I write. Maybe a sword on the wall, you know, or a shield or a family crest, things like that. I have my desk, and ample storage for my notes and doodles and drawings and art and everything associated with my work. On the desk there’s not just my computer/implement-to-commit-writing, but space to draw, doodle, or commit art as well. I’m not a true artist – art and drawing is more of a hobby, really – but drawing and doodling and such makes up a part of my writing process.
And never more than a head-turn away would be a window with a view out onto that mountain forest world I described above. Because that is my deep connection to the fantastic. And on a moment’s whim I can be out there, strolling the mountain paths, taking a picture of something that piques my inspiration and curiosity, or drawing a sketch of a some vista or scene. In the evenings, after the sun has gone down, I’d take a stroll outside in the early dark to walk among the fireflies. For my money, there are few experiences in life more magical than being surrounded by fireflies in the dark.
And then, just as quickly, I could be back, traveling from one fantasy world to another – whether reading, writing, or experiencing the fantasy of mountain life.
That’s my ideal.
What does your ideal writing space look like – or, if you’re not a writer, what does your ideal personal space (for whatever purpose you’ve reserved it) look like?