Giselle Marks – The Space I Write In

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Giselle Marks has been writing for 30 years and finally found the courage to get published. Her first two Regency Romances – The Fencing Master’s Daughter and The Marquis’s Mistake were published by Front Porch Romance. They are not currently available but will be re-released later in 2014.
She has also written the Zeninan Saga, a series of Fantasy/ Sci Fi novels with some sexual content. The first of which – Princess of Zenina will be published shortly.

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1. Writing Station

Every morning, after I stumble from my bed, as soon as I’m dressed, I sit down to write at my computer. My writing station is a very orthodox computer desk in a niche in my dining room.

2. Shelves

Above the computer is a shelf filled with my youngest son’s computer games and DVDs. He is away at university doing his finals in Genetics. I am dreaming of their removal as my bookshelves are overflowing. Beside me is a small bookcase filled mostly with fantasy and sci-fi novels.

3. Walls

I have nothing stuck on the walls, no plot-board or writing exhortations, only a framed painting of some chrysanthemums that I painted some years back and a Japanese calendar sent by my sister from Tokyo. 

4. Coffee

Beside my keyboard I normally have a glass of lemon squash, unlike most writers I am caffeine allergic and so drink neither tea nor coffee.

5. Notebook 

Beside the glass is a notebook where I jot down useful information and things I don’t want to forget. 

6. Lighting

On the other side of the keyboard there is a special light that artificially imitates sunlight which my daughter gave me because I get SAD in the winter.

7. Music

Most days I listen to Youtube while I write, because I like a background noise. I admit to a current preference for Enrique Iglesias, preferably singing in Spanish, which I speak few words of.  I get distracted by the poetry of English words, so this way I can listen to the tune, passion and rhythms. However, today I’ve been listening to Leonard Cohen and the late Jake Thackray, who was a British singer-songwriter with a witty and ribald repertoire. He is practically unknown outside of Britain but has a beautiful deep voice and his words are fabulous. 

8. Schedule 

Over the last few months, I have started my writing day by producing a poem. They vary in length, subject and seriousness considerably. Today’s effort is named Cupid’s Joke… Having written a poem today, I read a friend’s comments on my main work in progress, a third Regency romance with the working title A Compromised Rake. I have reached 14K in length and will work on it when I have finished this piece which I started a few days back.

9. Unfinished Business 

I am particularly busy at present because I have several projects unfinished. I have to republish my first two Regency romances which were released late last year by Front Porch Romance. Front Porch Romance has closed so the copyright has reverted to me. I think they were rather over-priced, and hope that despite republishing them, they will make more sales with reasonable pricing.

Then I also intend to release the first of my books in The Zeninan Saga, Princess of Zenina, and I am undertaking a minor revision before publishing. The Saga extends to twelve books so far, all unpublished. It is fantasy/sci-fi with sexual content.  It’s set in the far future mostly in a group of planets administered from Zenina, which is a female dominated planet.

My friend, fellow writer and cover artist Sarah J. Waldock has already created a cover for Princess. We are discussing whether to change the cover for The Fencing Master’s Daughter and how to alter the one for The Marquis’s Mistake.  Together we are writing an anthology of fairy and mythic tales intended for adults, we are about three quarters completed and will then illustrate it together. We may also produce a book of our poetry together.

10. Books

On the other side of the room, there are two larger bookcases, flanked by windows overlooking my small garden. There is a pile of mostly reference books, which have overflowed in one corner. Quotations, thesaurus, atlas, two biographical dictionaries and Wellington’s War number among them. More crammed bookcases can be found in all of my rooms, except the kitchen and bathroom.  Most of my collection of historical books and Regency romances are in the front room.

11. Between the Lines

When I’m not writing, my characters will be sorting out their scenes in the back of my head. They have learned not to be too noisy and distracting because then I might make them wait before writing their tales. But I know I have to work hard because I have so many stories they want me to tell.

@GiselleMarks1

 

 

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Matan Shiram – The Space I Write In

Note: Hyperlinks that end with an asterisk lead to Hebrew web pages.

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Matan is a journalist, a blogger* and a beginner screenplay writer. He writes about Cinema and Music for Globes Economic Newspaper*. Matan lives and writes in Hod HaSharon, Israel. (Photo taken by Liron Breier)

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1. Art Room

Welcome to my art room. The space I imagine in, let my thoughts wander, scribble warped characters and nonexistent landscapes onto a page, and mainly write. In my art room I do not work. I create. I work in my workroom, where I write my newspaper articles for Globes. This separation is necessary especially because it’s supposedly the same action – thinking that leads to writing, which sometimes includes characteristics similar to those of building a story. Seeing as I’m aware of my tendency to slip away into the realms of my imagination while writing an article, (some say while doing anything and everything else as well), I am prepared for all sorts of stimulations from my inner metaphoric world to interfere, and so I often find myself telling myself: No! You’re in your workroom now. Concentrate!

 

2. Closet of Thoughts

Like my clothes, my thoughts are scattered (thankfully not in the same closet). As you can see, my closet of thoughts is not a metaphoric closet. In it are pages, notebooks, notes that were ripped out of notebooks, a corkboard overflowing with ideas and fragments of stories and also sharpened pencils, black inked pens, rulers in different shapes and sizes and various kinds of stationary. The reason for this is that I have two main weaknesses: a weakness for stationary and a weakness for stationary shops.

Every now and then I’ll open one of the closet doors and pull out a thought I forgot I ever had, or quotes I collected over the years –something to help me when in need of some empowerment. For example, the following quote, I can’t remember who said it: “You’re considered weird until you succeed”, or this wonderful quote by Rainer Maria Rilke: “In the deepest hour of the night, confess to yourself that you would die if you were forbidden to write.” (Letters to a Young Poet).

 

3. Balcony

The front balcony of my house overlooks a small street, but for me it feels like the street overlooks my balcony. This feeling disturbs me, and I admit that because of it, it took me a long time to discover the magic of my balcony. I usually sit there during the remainder of the night, watching a live picture of night turning into day, listening to the world while it sleeps. Countryside quietness that is only disturbed by a passing truck, a newspaper delivery man distributing morning additions, a few insomniac birds, and (4) my dogs, who bark at the newspaper delivery man. On the balcony, during these hours, there are no distractions. They allow me to reflect deeply upon the events of the day that has just ended, the undercurrent of behaviors that have collected in my memory, an experience of some sort, that sitting calmly on my balcony allows me to continue, expanding its initial existence. There, on that balcony, stories find themselves being born.

 

5. Saxophone

Playing the saxophone enables me to express my inner gaps, that some may define as inner conflicts.The sharp transitions from joyfulness and humor to heaviness and sorrow, from earnestness and self-importance to total goofiness, from trying to silence an inner pain to wanting to shout my inside out. From the subtle to the wild. I like subtlety and not refinement, and I believe in harmony that is rooted in disharmony. For this reason people tend to be surprised when they discover that I don’t like jazz (they seem as surprised by my vegetarianism). Jazz bores me. My music is somewhere between the blues and rock, between George Gershwin and Pearl Jam or Nirvana. When I play I close my eyes and wander through all sorts of places in which I will never really get to play – like the Barbie Music Club in Tel Aviv, or the New York City Subway, and I allow myself to create different characters inside me, some of them find their way to the page.

 

 

Talia Sagiv – The Space I Write In

Note: Hyperlinks that end with an asterisk lead to Hebrew web pages.

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Talia zigzags between academic writing (a book based on her research* was published by HaKibbutz HaMeuchad publishing house) and prose (a collection of four novellas she wrote* was published in 2010 by Yediot Books). She’s currently working on a collection of short stories, and makes her living by lecturing and giving workshops on the relationship between the individual and society. She got her PhD from the Hebrew University – Department of Sociology and Anthropology. Talia lives in Beit Zait with her husband and their three children.

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1. Table

I remember how silly, yet determined, I felt going from one furniture store to another and sitting cross-legged next to each and every living room table presented in the showrooms, in search of The One. -The one table I will be able to write on. Recently I discovered that serious workrooms (with a chair, a table, books and office equipment) make me feel stressed and I rarely write in them. This was quite a disturbing discovery, seeing as when it dawned on me we had just moved to an apartment with a small room that was meant to be mine, for writing; furthermore, back then I bought myself a gift to celebrate the publication of my first book – a huge and very expensive office chair.

But the truth is: I prefer sitting cross-legged on the carpet (or a pillow), and writing at the living room table. The table of course has to be high enough for my legs to comfortably fit under it, but not too high, so that my hands and elbows are also comfortable.

When I enter other people’s houses (or even hotel rooms) I always look around and wonder – would I be comfortable writing here? Where would I position myself? If it’s a great house with a good table, I take the trouble to inquire when the owners plan to travel. I like writing away from home: in libraries, cafés and even other people’s homes – when the legal tenants are kind enough to go abroad and leave their intimate space to me.

 

2. Work Hours

Sadly, I don’t have fixed work hours or days. Once in a while a ‘good day’ comes along, a day in which I can hear a click between every two sentences, in which my finger is light on the delete button and clearly recognizes the superfluous, the rest of my fingers fill in the gaps and my head understands where the text is going. On days like these I’ll even print out a draft to read at night in bed. On a day like this – I can’t explain where it comes from or how to stimulate its return, but when it does appear – I try to write as much as possible, from morning till night. But these days are rare. On most days I’m happy if I manage to sit down for 2-3 hours and write, or mostly edit existing materials.

In addition I make sure to artificially create good days: 3-4 times a year I go to an old and cheap (but clean) hotel by the sea (I won’t disclose the name of the hotel). I put the mattress on the floor, drag the old coffee table to the side of the bed and write almost without any breaks. Then and there I am at my best.

 

3. Domestic Landscape

What you can’t see in the photo is that if you sit down to write on the carpet (as I am doing right now) and raise your eyes from the screen, you will see the kitchen. The light coming in from the window floods the sink, the stove, the transistor and the sheepish broom. All these hints of everyday routine actions remind me that I am not obligated to write. If it doesn’t work out, I can always turn the radio on and cook something or sweep a little. On the other hand, the choice between writing and housework is easy, isn’t it? Although cleaning, as opposed to writing, is so measurable, worthy, gladdening and the achievements are so visible. After all, every writing creature sometimes wonders if maybe it would be better to put the pen down, because there are enough books in the world (and articles, and internet publications) – and to add another one, hmmm…. is it really essential to anyone? Quite a bit of hubris is required in order to assume that all the world needs right now is a few more pages written by me.

 

4. Curtain, Pictures, Mortar and Pestle

These are items that I inherited from my grandmothers. The painting grandmother gave me, her dancing sunflowers and a painting of two gloomy friends; my father’s mother crushed nuts and almonds in this mortar for the pastries she made; and on my right is the curtain my great-grandmother embroidered – every time I look at it I think how boring the craft of embroidery is to me and then return to my writing.

These items are nostalgia – multi-generation feminine nostalgia. And it betters me and my writing in a romantic and slightly sticky way – these women, who created me – this is what they did with their time. And now they are no longer here. Thus the words of Walt Whitman touch me through the legacy they left me –

“That you are here – that life exists and identity,
That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.”

I live, I write, the doubts evaporate. When all of this hits me in the right spot, I run to my computer, shaking off all forms of self-criticism. I must write.

 

Ella rose Levenbach – The Space I Write In

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Ella is a frustrated writer, who published a few stories about a decade ago and has been meaning to get back to it ever since. She used to be (and will be again because she misses it dearly) a teacher of art, creative writing, project learning and social activism. Ella is also a translator & editor and the co-founder of Hubitus – a space to write in. She currently lives and works in Tel-Aviv, Israel.

 

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1. Bed.

It’s not that I don’t have a desk. I have a desk which is fully equipped and ready for use. Except for a chair. I’m missing a chair, but that’s beside the point. I was never a table and chair kind of person. As a child I would do my homework on the floor despite the gentle parental objections and educational explanations. I’d sit on the floor, cross-legged with my notebook in front of me, leaning my elbow beside it and my head on my hand. That was the most comfortable way for me to think and write. I guess it made me feel grounded.

As I grew up I became less flexible physically and more flexible mentally, so now you can find me trying to write on couches, buses, cushions, or even at tables… but mostly on my bed in various positions: upright & leaning on the wall; stretched out sideways; legs spread out straight in front of me, laptop on a heavy book on my knees, back bent forwards towards it; lying on my belly, feet dangling in the air, head held up, notebook on the floor, my hand holding a pen trying to reach it. And there are still many options to explore and discover. In my bed I feel most at home and least aware of myself, which is essential for me to be able to enter a creative mode.

 

2. Notebook\Sketchbook.

When I was younger I wanted to be an artist. I had the whole romantic dream going of being fully and totally embraced by the powers of creativity. It was wonderful, powerful and rich but gradually the intensity of this experience subsided, due to the equally strong (if not stronger) powers of self-criticism and self-doubt. I left art and writing for many years. It felt a bit like an angry divorce with many issues left unaddressed and exposed.

Lately I’ve been trying to return to the inner zones of creativity. The notebook is the arena I search in. It’s where I try to find the door to ‘the zone’, let out all the self-inflicted venom, clear my mind. I prefer sketchbooks with thick paper and no lines so I can doodle and write and just hangout on the page in different colors and textures. The notebook can’t be too fancy so that I won’t feel obligated to create something good. I like to have fun pens and pencils. They keep me curious and playful.

 

3. A Laptop Named Samantha.

My laptop and I are kind of close… I love Sam’s rhythm, the gentle clicking sounds her keyboard buttons make. Sometimes the potential sounds are enough to get me writing even when I feel I have nothing to say.

 

4. iPhone.

I use my phone to jot down thoughts on the go. Later these thoughts are used as anchors for writing session. Evernote & Notes are my preferred apps. Evernote because of the option to combine mediums, I find it easier to write when I can start with a picture; and Notes because that’s all they are, notes. There is no order in them. I often forget about them and then later return to find words I can’t imagine were written by me. It’s a puzzling and sometimes inspiring experience.

 

5. Café.

When the writing just doesn’t happen and the home brewed coffee isn’t a strong enough incentive there’s no choice but to get out of bed, get dressed and go to a café. That’s the only place where I work like a normal person, sitting on a chair with Samantha on the table in front of me and a quality macchiato beside her. It can’t be any café. It has to be comfortable, but the parameters of comfort aren’t quite clear to me. It’s more of an intuitive and spontaneous decision even though it often tends to be the same one. Some of the questions that buzz through my mind before I sit down: Are the other customers busy enough not to notice me? Does the staff seem judgmental? Will they mind if I stay long? How’s the lighting? Is there an open corner? Where can I plug Samantha in? Is it too warm in here? How many laptops can I see? Where’s the bathroom? Yes. I tend to linger.

When I finally sit down in a café and write I am very aware of myself, but I feel like a writer. I stop being me for a while and become this cool character from a story about a writer who sits in cafés and writes captivating and important stuff. Suddenly it becomes easier for the words to appear in my brain and find their way to the page without becoming too heavy and serious on the way.

 

6. Friends.

Another way to free the words in me when they really want to stay clustered inside and chained to themselves is to write beside friends. It can be one friend who is working on something too or a group of friends doing anything. As long as I’m not expected to interact it’s helpful. It takes the severity of writing out of the equation and puts me in a more nonchalant writing mode.

 

7. Books.

Oh how I love my books. Their smell, their feel, their prestige, all the words they hold inside. I have many books. Among them quite a few about creativity and writing. Their presence soothes me. The thought that they may carry a solution, even one small tip that will enable me to write. One of the books I have opened and read many times is Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg. Every now and again when I feel motivated yet completely stuck, I randomly open it and find my way into writing.

 

8. Bedside Lamp.

My yellow lamp follows me from every apartment I leave, to every apartment I move to. I have had it with me since I was a little girl.  I like reading and writing beside it even when I don’t need its light. It symbolizes the feeling of home for me, reminds me who I am in a way. It shines a light on the things I want to do for myself.

 

9. Red Reading Glasses.

They aren’t really necessary. Their number is very small and the difference in vision very slight. But they make me see more clearly on a metaphoric level. So when I find it difficult to concentrate on my writing I put them on. They help me focus.

 

10. The Walls.

In the days when I was creating more intensely, every surface was a potential page. I saw letters not only as symbols which create verbal meaning but also as visual patterns. Painting and writing belonged to the same world. They belonged to me and I belonged with them. My walls were full of secretive phrases and intimate graffiti that were actually a conversation between me and my room.

Now ‘La Linea’ is on my wall. He was situated there by Michal, my flat mate a year before I settled in. I like to have him there. I know he’s probably criticizing me and complaining about life, but he has a sense of humor and so reminds me I have one too.  I’m looking forward to a future moment in which I will feel comfortable enough with my pen or pencil to give him a visual-verbal companion. The moment is close. I can feel it in the tips of my fingers.