The Attic

It is a complicated thing where one chooses to write. I have written in store rooms, basements, bedrooms, attics, spaces over garages, cottages, buttonhole apartments and just about every coffee house in America. Maybe criteria would be as simple as a place where one can be lost and no one will notice the man in the corner scribbling or typing or reading or just staring into blank space. There is nothing holy about one space over another but there must be some sort of anonymity of the sort that allows the writer to become whoever he or she wants for that time. I found this attic simply by asking a woman if she had any space in her house. The house turned out also to be where Ernest Hemingway was born.

I’d like to say there was a grand design, but it really was just that having a new baby and a strange windy, March day that drove me out to a coffee house and it was on the way back that I saw the sign, took the tour, then took a shot and asked if there was any space available. It was really that simple. There were some evaluations of my books but I don’t think there was anything particularly Hemingway about my prose that opened the door-I was really at the right place at the right time. And so the strange ritual of ascending stairs to a musty old attic was born.

That was about ten years ago, and while I write other places as well — I do have an office over a garage that I share with the exhaust and the occasional field mouse — the attic is a touchstone, a place where one gets a glimmer of another time, maybe a simpler time, I don’t know. But certainly, once I am there and settled into my stiff-backed chair and I hear the squirrels chattering in the eaves and stare at the church in the distanced over the rooftops — I am very far away, at least for an hour or two.

Read
Papa Are You There? 
from
Publishers Weekly