I tend to write mostly at night, but because it’s summer and very hot during the day in Tucson, I try to work during the morning so I can visit with friends in the evening. This is my desk, which is upstairs. The blue folder to the left is my tactic for the summer: write what I can, then print it out and place it in the folder for the next day. Reread it before even opening the file on the computer. Very tiny steps.
Above the desk are my diplomas. I was the first person in my family to graduate from college, so I’m very proud of them. In the middle is the nifty certificate I got for winning a PEN/O. Henry Award a few years ago. I look up at it when I feel like the writing isn’t going well (which is often). At the bottom left is one of two watercolor prints given to me by the late poet A. R. Ammons, which will someday be framed.
Another reason I’m more likely to write in the day is the quality of the light. I love the light in my place. It’s very different from the cramped, dark little bedroom I had when I lived in New York City.
I try to keep my desk clear of books, but you can see where I’m starting to set aside a stash of books on the shelves downstairs. On deck: Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad, Katherine Larson’s Radial Symmetry, Troy Jollimore’s At Lake Scugog, Kate Walbert’s A Short History of Women, Annie Ernaux’sThings Seen, and C. D. Wright’s One with Others. (I’m a closet poetry reader.)
Reading is writing—that’s what one of my mentors, Ken McClane, told me all the time.
This little sofa goes by a couple of names—the Red Blood Cell, the Cuddle Couch—and is the coveted spot when friends come over. Mostly though, it’s where I read at night. Right now, I’m in the middle of Alan Heathcock’s Volt, which I’m reading at the same time as a writer friend of mine, so we can talk about it over the phone next time we chat.