There is a though that, being a writer, I can write from anywhere. I have had that thought, though I also know that my best work happens when functioning in a schedule that is fixed enough to be ritual.
It removes other thoughts and decisions from my world, so all the brainpower goes to what I am working on. Get up at the same time, eat the same thing, walk to where I am going, etc. In times of enormous productivity, even my clothing attain a uniform-like consistency
So being in Rome, without my studio space or my chalkboard walls has been an interesting experience. I find I am less effective without the studio, and without the massive wall. (I did always find the home wall even more useful, which I suspect is because I would sit with it late at night or pre-dawn, and those hours have magic.)
The Fellows and artists here are surprised to find I build and work on walls first, words second, which has had me pondering the process. I don’t think of myself as a visual person; what I have realized is that the walls are spatial, it has to do with how I organize thoughts and information.
A few months ago I realized I wanted to build orerries as physical representations of times and places. For example, a 1913 Vienna orerry would have von Hoffmansthal and Roth and the others who circled each other, built into their own little moveable universes. When I was pondering how these groups circles and interacted, that was the form that made most sense. If I’d had the materials in the studio I probably would have started building them. I paint maps on the floors, so I can move information around that way as well. Initially I had painted 1938 Europe on the floor, but it turned out I needed an earlier map, so that one went away, though I never got around to repainting the base map, in the chaos. Then I can use chalks over them, to move the lines and also to note people.
I also hang maps, images, and other elements of this work on the walls, really, just to ponder. They don’t, in this case, turn into descriptions or other words in my work, it is the textured fabric, however that underlies how I think.
So, spatial organization. It’s a thing. Works in my head, but better to make some of it enormous and put it on the walls.
I thought I’d spend the entire summer in Rome, but the more I write the more I miss the studio, so now, flux. I will stay three more weeks here, for other reasons, but then it seems I have to reconsider the rest of the year. Which is fine, clarifying process and ways to excel at the work is never a bad thing.