Writing spaces are as varied as the individuals who occupy them. The range of “space” we enter for our writing practice is a wide, wild field from tidy to random, from Maya Angelou in a sparse hotel room to Marcel Proust in bed, from Jane Austen at the kitchen table to you: what does your writing space look like? Get comfy and lost in existential thoughts with second year MFA in Nonfiction student Tidenek Haileselassie.
Where do you write?
I’ve been meaning to get a desk for months now, but I just never got around to it, so I write/read in bed.
Stand, sit or other?
I write sitting up in bed, with a comfy pillow or two behind my back. If I can’t bring myself to write it helps to get up and take a walk. I often come back from a long walk feeling more motivated and energized, feeling like I can do anything. Mind you, this feeling doesn’t necessarily translate to actually sitting down and writing, but it puts me in the space to write and be more productive.
What is your writing practice?
Currently I don’t have a disciplined writing practice. I write when there’s a deadline and when I have the presence of mind to do so.
What are your favorite procrastinations?
I like browsing Reddit and YouTube. My favorite thing to do on Reddit is browse questions that people post on groups like r/TooAfraidToAsk and r/NoDumbQuestions, and seeing the (mostly) surprisingly wholesome responses. I also love discovering and exploring new artists on YouTube through their songs, music videos and interviews. A few artists that I recently discovered this way are Tems, Amaarae, L.A.X. and Ayra Starr—all Afrobeat/alternative R&B artists that I would 100% recommend. Apart from that, I enjoy listening to podcasts and audiobooks, being outside, eating and cooking/experimenting with food, and getting lost in random existential thoughts like, “What if I hadn’t been born human or myself, but something/someone else?”
We live in interesting times, which book/author keeps you sane/grounded?
Lately I’ve been gravitating to books on faith, spirituality and mindfulness—books like “The Sin of Certainty” by Pete Enns, on the role of doubt in faith, and “Wherever You Go There You Are” by Jon Kabat-Zinn, on mindfulness and meditation.
What is your new skill learned during the shutdowns of the Pandemic
I don’t know if you could call this a skill, but I think the uncertainty of the pandemic has led to me being less rigid and more at peace with ambiguity and uncertainty—or if not at peace, at least I’ve come to accept these things more. I’ve also learned to make really good fuul (a traditionally middle eastern/North African dish that we also have in Ethiopia), and have discovered that marinara sauce was *made* to be paired with eggs—especially sunny side up with a soft, jammy yolk. Seriously. Try it and let me know.
What is your dream writing space?
I actually like writing on my bed and don’t think I’ll get a desk after all. I think the only way it could be better is if I had a comfy outdoor writing space (with shelter from the rain and sun)—something like what you see here.
Tidenek is a second-year fiction and creative nonfiction student and WriteOn fellow. She lives between New York and Denver, enjoys exploring the places she calls home, and accidentally discovering things when lost.