Location, Location, Location

by Brenda W. Clough

a mint julep should taste minty, not bourbony

a mint julep should taste minty, not bourbony

Can environment boost creativity? This article zips through several suggestions, including

– Darkness and dim lighting. Umm, it ain’t me, babe. I have vision impairments and can never have enough lumens.

-Messy. Messy desk, cluttered office, noisy surroundings. I look around at my office and realize this one is probably gold. But yarn — the clutter has to be yarn.

-Writing by hand. Yes, this does work! But if you can do without it, you can crank much faster by touch typing. So, only if you must. You have to key in all those scribbles into a word processor anyway.

-High ceilings? Really? Do I have to move, or just undergo a major home renovation?

-Liquor. Hmm, could be. There have been some very famous writers who kept bottles in their file cabinet drawers — E.B. White comes immediately to mind. But be careful on this one, okay? You only have one liver.

The ebook version of my novel How Like a God is now available from Book View Cafe.

How Like a God, by Brenda W. CloughMy newest novel Speak to Our Desires is out from Book View Café.

I also have stories in Book View Café’s two steampunk anthologies, The Shadow Conspiracy and The Shadow Conspiracy II, as well as in BVC’s many other anthologies, including our latest, Beyond Grimm.



About Brenda Clough

Brenda W. Clough spent much of her childhood overseas, courtesy of the U.S. government. Her first fantasy novel, The Crystal Crown, was published by DAW in 1984. She has also written The Dragon of Mishbil (1985), The Realm Beneath (1986), and The Name of the Sun (1988). Her children’s novel, An Impossumble Summer (1992), is set in her own house in Virginia, where she lives in a cottage at the edge of a forest. Her novel How Like a God, available from BVC, was published by Tor Books in 1997, and a sequel, Doors of Death and Life, was published in May 2000. Her latest novels from Book View Cafe include Revise the World (2009) and Speak to Our Desires. Her novel A Most Dangerous Woman is being serialized by Serial Box. Her novel The River Twice is newly available from BVC.


Location, Location, Location — 6 Comments

  1. High ceilings, huh? That’ll be my problem, then. I had high ceilings at home in Newcastle, and crazy-high in the library. Here, not so much. All is clear now…

  2. Change!

    Change in location is the big one. Do an in-house vacation — get up and walk about all the rooms — and it’s astounding the blocks it can burst through. Sometimes. Being creativity and refusing to be consistent and all.

    I note that with the handwriting you get to revise as you type in.

    • Oh yes, keying in is a big moment for rewrite. I have a set of ms that I show writing classes. The original hand-written ms, in pencil on yellow pads, is just about illegible.

      There are two types of writers. There are the racehorses, the ones who thrive upon change and conflict — you can see them reporting from the High Pamir in Afghanistan, or on the front line at climate change marches. For them the cheering crowds, the tight field, the jockey tapping the whip on their flank, is exhilarating. Baby, we were born to run!

      And then there are the other kind, the writers who are honeybees. We need quiet, and sunshine, and flowers. (Or chocolate.) Beating on the hive simply gets you angry bees. You want honey, you need to give the bees peace and a good environment. One of the things a young writer needs to learn is what kind of writer she is.

  3. Writing by hand really helps me out. I usually use it to drabble when I’m stuck on something or debating between different ideas for something. The having to go back later and key in my notes tends to slow me down, but the writing by hand can give me a nice boost when I need it.

    Liquor does little for me. High ceilings don’t help (I live with high ceilings right now). Darkness doesn’t help (though sometimes I find a dark room with a good bright lamp on right next to me is nice and isolating).

    Messy desks are distracting – I want to clean/organize my workspace before starting. Now if it’s messy because of my scattering of notes on the current project, that’s fine.

    When my boyfriend drinks, he can spool out this poetic prose that is just captivating. However he refuses to rely in liquor to do it, so it rarely happens. He figures if he can do it while loosened by libations, he should be able to figure out how to do it while sober.

  4. Mess I can do. I only clean when I’m stuck. High ceilings I half have, but then I’m short, what’s high to me would be brain crushing on Chaz. Liquor makes me sick. Light, I don’t care as long as I can see the keyboard. Arthritic knuckles won’t let me clutch a pen or pencil for more than 1 sentence.

    I create because I don’t know what to do with myself if I’m not writing.

  5. Coffee houses and libraries — anywhere that isn’t my office at home. Ridiculous, because at home I have a big monitor and separate keyboard whereas at coffee houses (I’m at one now) I hunch over the laptop. Also I eat things I shouldn’t. But I get work done, even though the coffee houses have WiFi and distraction is equally available. I don’t know why.

    I haven’t written anything but bits of inspiration by hand since I learned to type back in high school. Typewriters beat writing by hand. Electric typewriters beat the old-fashioned manual kind. The IBM Correcting Selectric was a marvel. And I got my first computer in 1983. I have never looked back, technologically speaking.

    And with that, to work.