Writerly spaces – guest blog by Katherine Gibson

This week I will begin a new book. But, before I write the first sentence, I embark on a ritual that readies me for the journey ahead. I need to get my website up-to-date, a task that seems to stall when a book is in progress. Then, with my cyber-world in order, I will tackle my writing room with an aim to transform the jumble of notes, books, and files on my desk and around the room into clear, uncluttered space.

Katherine's desk prior to begining her next book.

The visual appearance of where I write affects my clarity and productivity as much as the state of my interior landscape. To be present and focused, distractions must go. That includes the materials and reminders of my last book, an illustrated biography of the great Canadian writer and artist Ted Harrison.

The residue from that four-year project still fills nooks and crannies of my study. It is time to sift and sort. I will archive some materials and store them under the stairs. But most of what was once essential is not longer important and can go. Now I have space on bookshelves, a clear bulletin board and empty file drawers for my current project. Later, I’ll sweep from my desk the minutiae of everyday life that represented in bank statements to be filed, magazines to recycle and orphaned bits of this and that.

Some papers and material are boxed up for long-term storage; the rest gets tossed.

But I know this newly cleared space will be temporary. As I build the next book, my study will transform into a visual record of that writing process. Reference books, photos, notes, tapes, letters and random thoughts scribbled on scraps of paper will find homes in the space around me.

The personalities of my characters will speak to me through these static facsimiles. Together we will inhabit an environment that will be utterly our own. It will change as we go deeper into knowing each other. And so it will be until we reach THE END, when they too, will be sorted and either discarded or packed into storage boxes.

When I reflect upon my student days, I see that even then, I needed a composed external space to put my internal world at ease.  Because I am a visual person—someone who instinctively piles rather than files—this is a constant challenge.

In the past, I’d convinced myself I knew where things were, even if my working space was a confusion of chaos. I’ve since learned that I am more productive, clear and focused when it is calm and orderly.

With space for my new book to grow, and with plant or two, a few pretty pictures and a little light jazz to keep my company, the scene is set for my next writerly adventure.

Katherine's desk and office ready for book #4.

Katherine Gibson is the author of Unclutter Your Life: Transforming Your Physcial, Mental and Emotional Space; Pause: Putting the Brakes on a Runaway Life and Ted Harrison Painting Paradise. 

 

Workshop student lands book contract

As soon as I heard the voice on the answering machine I knew something big had happened. Then Yvonne’s words came singing down the line, “I got a publisher! I’m going to be published!”

The equation can be this simple: a good story + good writing + dedication = published book. The reality is: many people have a great idea for a book, some have the writing skills but few have the dedication to see the project through. But right from the start I thought Yvonne Maximchuk might have all three.

I met Yvonne last May when she took one of my writing workshops. She’d been working on a memoir for five years. But she wasn’t sure if her story was good enough and she was having a hard time finishing the manuscript.

After reading the first pages of Drawn to Sea I knew Yvonne had the makings of a story that would engage and intrigue readers. The plot revolves around her decision to remain in an isolated community after a break up with her partner. The challenges were huge. She had two children to support and wondered if she could sell her paintings and pottery from her Simoom Sound location.

Then there were the day-to-day considerations such as getting firewood and travelling back and forth to a larger community to get groceries, medical care and other necessities of life. If she was going to make it, Yvonne knew she had to do three things. Get a chainsaw, get a boat and learn how to operate them.

Drawn to Sea is funny and heart-warming; totally candid and very evocative of place. Vici Johnstone, publisher of Caitlin Press, told Yvonne her writing was lyrical, the story well-paced and that it was a pleasure to read a book where the writer crafted her story like a work of art.

Yvonne, at right, made excellent use of her time at the writing retreat.

 

And that’s a key part of Yvonne’s success. As a self-employed painter and potter, she knows what it means to be disciplined. If you don’t sit down and do the work, it doesn’t get done. And that can mean the difference between earning a living or starving, completing a book or not.

I’m very proud of Yvonne. And I was touched when she said, “You got me over the last hurdle. Your advice on how to finish a book was brilliant.”

I can’t wait to see the published version of Drawn to Sea, perhaps featuring one of Yvonne’s paintings on the cover. To find out more about one of BC’s newest authors visit www.searosestudio.net.

 

 

Workshop student lands book contract

As soon as I heard the voice on the answering machine I knew something big had happened. Then Yvonne’s words came singing down the line, “I got a publisher! I’m going to be published!”

The equation can be this simple: a good story + good writing + dedication = published book. The reality is: many people have a great idea for a book, some have the writing skills but few have the dedication to see the project through. But right from the start I thought Yvonne Maximchuk might have all three.

I met Yvonne last May when she took one of my writing workshops. She’d been working on a memoir for five years. But she wasn’t sure if her story was good enough and she was having a hard time finishing the manuscript.

After reading the first pages of Drawn to Sea I knew Yvonne had the makings of a story that would engage and intrigue readers. The plot revolves around her decision to remain in an isolated community after a break up with her partner. The challenges were huge. She had two children to support and wondered if she could sell her paintings and pottery from her Simoom Sound location.

Then there were the day-to-day considerations such as getting firewood and travelling back and forth to a larger community to get groceries, medical care and other necessities of life. If she was going to make it, Yvonne knew she had to do three things. Get a chainsaw, get a boat and learn how to operate them.

Drawn to Sea is funny and heart-warming; totally candid and very evocative of place. Vici Johnstone, publisher of Caitlin Press, told Yvonne her writing was lyrical, the story well-paced and that it was a pleasure to read a book where the writer crafted her story like a work of art.

Yvonne, at right, made excellent use of her time at the writing retreat.

 

And that’s a key part of Yvonne’s success. As a self-employed painter and potter, she knows what it means to be disciplined. If you don’t sit down and do the work, it doesn’t get done. And that can mean the difference between earning a living or starving, completing a book or not.

I’m very proud of Yvonne. And I was touched when she said, “You got me over the last hurdle. Your advice on how to finish a book was brilliant.”

I can’t wait to see the published version of Drawn to Sea, perhaps featuring one of Yvonne’s paintings on the cover. To find out more about one of BC’s newest authors visit www.searosestudio.net.