Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Write Setting

A few weeks ago, I found myself able to getaway from the heat of Phoenix, Arizona and dashed to Lake Tahoe for a restful weekend. For me, restful means fun-filled days of long hikes. This photo was taken high above the Echo Lakes. Lovely.

Coming out from our extended walk via a boat, we passed a nice little island, where a cute cottage nestled with a deck that extended all the way to the lake. A beautiful golden retriever sat at the edge, guarding his master, a women who sat writing. Oh, the writer's life.

Since that moment I haven't been able to get that woman out of my mind. Imagine a setting like that in which to write. Yet, when I consider where my writing really gets done, I must admit it isn't when I'm in that type of environment. Often my husband and I have secreted away, he to fish and me to write in some wilderness area. I always go with such good intentions, but never seem to be able to concentrate - to work. The muse escapes me.

I've heard others speak about how invigorating it is to write in coffee shops. While I love the interplay of people surrounding me, my muse is always AWOL there, too. I generally gravitate to coffee shops when my work is in the editing stages - a time when my creativity isn't quite as crucial.

No, for me, the best writing has always been done in my office. A room of rich rose color that stimulates, but not so much that I can't focus. A place where my special things are nearby if I need them, but have become a part of the background, so they don't intrude.

I have tried many other places to find my muse: a hammock, a bathtub, a chair by the pool. While thoughts come to me in those moments, the words are elusive when I attempt to write from them. So I figure I may be like so many others, sentenced to a desk and chair in a room, sitting alone writing. A place where my muse has settled in and will talk to me.

Where do you find the muse?


D. Jean Quarles is a writer of Women's Fiction and Young Adult Science Fiction. Her latest book, Flight from the Water Planet, Book 1 of The Exodus Series was written with her coauthor, Austine Etcheverry.

D. Jean loves to tell stories of personal growth – where success has nothing to do with money or fame, but of living life to the fullest. She is also the author of the novels: Rocky's Mountains, Fire in the Hole and, Perception. The Mermaid, an award winning short story was published in the anthology, Tales from a Sweltering City.  

She is a wife, mother, grandmother and business coach. In her free time . . . ha! ha! ha! Anyway, you can find more about D. Jean Quarles, her writing and her books at her website at

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Donna McDine said...

Lovely photo and story behind it. Hmmm, my muse usually comes at my dining room table away from the hum of my computer and distracting of email and Internet. I too like to do my editing in long hand in a coffee shop.

All the best,

Virginia S Grenier said...

Really great post and one to get us all thinking.

Theresa Munroe said...

My muse, like my mind, bops all over the place. If he doesn't show up in my office and I find myself stuck for a few days and produce little or nothing of quantity or worth, I find a change of scenery helps. A coffee shop or the library are my usual other places to write. I get to go away so seldom, that when I do, even if I take my laptop, I don't accomplish much writing. I enjoy where I am, the people I am with and what we do. It fills me up for when it's just me, my muse and my desk again.

Heidiwriter said...

Getting out into nature helps get me "unstuck" in my writing sometimes, but I do 99.9% of it in my office at home. I keep thinking I need to change my habits to get more done, but...

Magdalena Ball said...

Ah, jealous of that woman and of you with your lovely rose colour office. I have to write as and when - no chance to tease the muse or wait for inspiration. It's wherever and whenever I have a minute - in the midst of the living room with noisy kids, television and stereo blasting (often together with different sounds) - the cacophany of life. I do reflection in beautiful settings and often go there mentally to work even if physically it's far from that.

Mary Jo Guglielmo said...

I find I need to get into nature, not to write, but to be rejuvenated. Then it seems my muse will pop in wherever I'm writing, as long as my spirit has been fed along the way.

Margaret Fieland said...

Jean, truthfully, I don't think it's the setting as much as it is my state of mind. If I'm walking my dogs alone, that can get me going. Sometimes driving alone in my car can. Sometimes it's a question one of my kids asks, or something I'm reading. I do write poetry by hand, which means I can write it anywhere, but fiction is inside, because I write that on my laptop and I can't see the screen well out-of-doors.

Why fiction only (or almost only) on the laptop? Unless I'm making notes, I write too slowly by hand to capture my thoughts.

Thanks for the thought-provoking post.

Karen Cioffi said...

Wow, what a beautiful setting. I can pretty much write anywhere that it's quiet and where I can have my laptop.

I need to type my fiction and nonfiction - my thoughts are too fast for hand writing.

Being in NYC, that picture makes me want to drive up to Lake George in upstate New York.

Shirley Corder said...

Jean, I agree with you. I get so inspired as to how much writing I will do in some beautiful spot. But when the time comes, I don't get into it. I do far more at my cluttered desk. (I'd probably do even more if I tided the desk but then that's procrastination. Right?)

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