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My Studio: Patti Grayson

My main writing space is nestled in a dormer on the second floor of my home. My husband propped a temporary, albeit customized, desk for me there atop some file cabinets until we could find the perfect replacement—something heavy and oak. I've been installed there for the better part of two decades and it remains unchanged.

This studio-of-sorts is lacking in the door department. There is no space for one. As a result, my writing days were subject to constant interruption while my children grew. Despite its lack of physical barrier, the area did become impenetrable at certain times—no one dared cross the invisible threshold when I was in the final editing stage of my novel, Autumn, One Spring. I like to believe it was respect and not quaking fear that kept everyone at a distance. The thing that is the writing monster must not be disturbed.

To those with real offices, my narrow square footage and second story window might seem somewhat garret-like. But that implies a sparse and impoverished space. My clutter of cherished objects precludes such a definition. Overburdened bookshelves, pre-school art rendered by my children, photographs (from snapshots to artistic statements), stacks of spiral-bound notebooks, a miniature Hamlet figure posed mid-soliloquy, postcards from friends, tragedy/comedy masks, an engraved clock my parents gave me upon the publication of my first book, Core Samples, and a framed cover of that same book which my writers' group presented to me after the launch. Other objects are permanent features on my desk's surface: both volumes of The New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, my teacup, scrap paper for doodling. I am an addicted and obsessive doodler while attempting to create. Beneath my desk, my goldendoodle, Karma, loves to lie underfoot, offering few complaints and fewer editorial remarks. I could swear her predecessor, a German shepherd named Sonnet, had more to say.

I have also produced several chapters of a forthcoming novel from our multi-generational family cottage. Studio-of-sorts would be a gross exaggeration there. Survival depends on nomadic wandering. I quest for a horizontal surface (and swat mosquitoes). A folding TV table, a tree stump, a low antique dresser, a bench in the cooled sauna have all served me well as a desk, but provided scant doodling privacy. Is it wrong to covet a permanent, secluded, unfettered shed at lake's edge? A real studio. With a screen door? The studio-in-my-mind seems as elusive as the perfect paragraph … but just imagine what I could accomplish!

On the other hand, the resulting serenity and separation might lead to my artistic downfall. With the no-barrier essence of my present studio spaces, I've learned to work through interruptions and cramped disorder. In fact, I suspect I thrive on them. An energetic family life and all it entails has been a central, hovering presence in my studio. That presence informs and resonates in my work as well. And I am grateful for that. Every square foot of it.

Turnstone Press

206-100 Arthur Street
Winnipeg, MB   R3B 1H3
Ph: 204-947-1555; Toll Free: 888-363-7718

Turnstone Press acknowledges the support of the Canada Council for the Arts, the Manitoba Arts Council, the Government of Canada, and the Province of Manitoba through Manitoba Sport, Culture and Heritage.

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