The right place to write – Yvonne Georgina Puig

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By Yvonne Georgina Puig

One of the hallmarks of being a young, ambitious writer is taking yourself too seriously. Fortunately I’ve recovered, but for a little while in my twenties, I had a bad case. I lived in a studio apartment above a garage, and even though I didn’t have much space, I made sure that I had a dignified, necessary process. Of course, a serious writer needs a serious place to write — right? ♥

I had to have a fresh cup of tea, a journal and pen, two or three pillows behind my back (since the armchair had to double as an office chair for the small folding desk), and two or three of my favorite novels by my side. I needed to be able to see a tree outside the window, and I needed either absolute silence (except for the birds singing), or very particular music, played through headphones. I felt that I had to have these conditions met to get any writing done, and basically ignored the reality that a lot of the time I still hardly wrote anything at all.

CoverAs far as requirements go, mine weren’t unusual, or even very high maintenance. But after several years and many false starts, I began to realize that they were standing in my way.

Believing in them as essential made the writing process into something more precious that it needs to be (or should be, I think) — and actually made me less resilient as a writer. It was too easy to collapse onto my invisible fainting couch and cry — I can’t write! There’s a lawnmower next door! As it will, life also sent me in unpredictable directions, and I didn’t have the same degree of control over my writing space. At first I was terrified, but I came to feel liberated. I don’t even want that control anymore.

I have dreams about a little writing cottage in the woods, and when one day I get there I will be glad to know that I didn’t need it (even though I did think about it all the time). When it comes to getting words down, the good things like silence are great, the bad ones like feet stomping upstairs are not — but it’s worse to focus on them so much that they become requirements to writing or justifications for not writing, or still worse, to think that these things make or break a writer. The only absolute condition to writing is yourself — your as-unsanctimonious-as-possible self. I’d still prefer to see trees and drink tea and have back pillows while I write, and when I can, it’s a privilege. Otherwise — like right now in the library where I’m writing this — I just try my best to write anyway.

Yvonne Georgina Puig’s debut novel, A Wife of Noble Character, is available now from Henry Holt.


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