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, Alexander Chee on a train, Ben Franklin in a bathtub, Marcel Proust in bed, Jane Austen at the kitchen table to you: what does your writing space look like? What role does “place” take with your writing practice? Riggio Honors Writing student and Editor in Chief for 12th Street Literary Journal Chloe Colvard invites us into her kitchen.
Where do you write?
I used to write in busy areas that are full of things to look at. It sounds counterproductive doesn’t it? Surprisingly, it helps me focus to know that I am a part of an atmosphere that has all sorts of different things going on, and that I am simply one of many people working on something. It feels motivating. It can also be very useful for writer’s block. Since the pandemic of course, this is not an option anymore. I have recently had to re-train my brain to focus while sitting at my kitchen island, which is a new world...isn’t everything right now though? I think I’m finally getting into the swing of it.
What is your writing practice?
I write while moving very quickly, and perhaps carelessly. When I first started writing, I went very slowly and carefully. I used to write as if someone was going to read it while basking in a dark corner behind me the whole time or something. I write a lot of nonfiction, and sometimes it does feel that way when you are so close to your own work. Once I came to the realization that a big part of writing is just spitting everything out, I was able to find a method to my madness, and I got spitting. I like to run through a piece, fairly quickly and in one go. Just get it out onto the page. Sometimes that’s the hardest part, but I always end up with more than I was expecting at the end. Then, I will subtract while I edit, and eventually go back in to add more, if need be.
What are your favorite procrastinations / binge shows?
My days in quarantine and levels of procrastination vary on such a sliding scale from day-to-day with ADHD, but I will say that the one constant guilty pleasure that I always go back to are podcasts. Even if I have a full schedule ahead of me, I listen to at least one podcast a day. I enjoy a lot of true crime and political podcasts, but I also treat myself to some more playful ones, such as the Everything Is Alive podcast. That podcast has actually inspired my writing, because it gives voices and personalities to inanimate objects.
What was the book that got you through the Pandemic?
Shut Up You’re Pretty by Téa Mutonji’ is a intertwining story collection that I stumbled upon at The Strand over a year ago. Despite its unusual name, it has been a book that I keep going back to for its disorienting beauty, and the masterful use of the passing of time with each section. I am also in the middle of the essay collection Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit, and it has been another great read so far. If you can’t tell, I like to read in forms that would fall into the essays, collections, and vignettes category.
What is your new skill learned during the Pandemic?
My new skill actually relates back to question one, which is to be able to write and to focus while spending so much time inside, particularly inside the same four walls. Literally, I live in a studio apartment. I also think that coping mechanisms and focusing on self-care are such valuable tools to hone-in on right now, and it’s not a skill in which it’s value ends once the pandemic does.
What is your dream writing space?
I chose a New York rooftop as my dream writing space, because I would love being able to access the fresh air while still feeling like I was within the city. I can totally picture listening to whatever sounds the city creates while writing there. Jazz from a park, sirens, cheers, any of that sounds wonderful.
Living in Brooklyn, Chloe is a third year Creative Writing student at The New School, as well as the Editor-in-Chief of 12th Street, The New School's literary magazine. She spends her time crafting, stalking Facebook Marketplace, and dodging slow walkers on the sidewalk. She is a part-time 4th grade student-teacher, and a full-time cat mom.