My Studio: Sarah Klassen

My studio is a room with a view. But today when I glance up from my computer, that view is blocked by a crescent of snow piled up on the outer ledge. However, I can easily picture the monochrome world beyond that barrier: the metal-grey sky, the wide white ribbon of the Red River, the black maple and willow skeletons. It’s still snowing.

 My studio is a room with a view. But today when I glance up from my computer, that view is blocked by a crescent of snow piled up on the outer ledge. However, I can easily picture the monochrome world beyond that barrier: the metal-grey sky, the wide white ribbon of the Red River, the black maple and willow skeletons. It’s still snowing.

In other seasons the view is more colourful, offering the spring-green of new leaves, cloudless blue skies of a summer day, red and yellow foliage in fall.

The window, which lets light into my studio, also permits me to escape from whatever it is I’m working on at my desk to watch the arrival of migratory birds in spring, the water traffic in summer, convoys of Canada geese marshalling for the long flight south in fall, gulls plummeting from the vast sky. Once I watched a great blue heron skim the surface of the river and disappear behind trees.

Not all inspiration comes from beyond the window. Inside my studio there’s a watercolour of Simone Weil, painted for me by a friend shortly after Simone Weil: Songs of Hunger and Love was launched; a bunch of dried hydrangea blooms, the size of a child’s head, salvaged from summer; a print of Ludivine by E. Holgate; a couple of cactus plants I can count on to survive neglect; books, of course; and the desk where I write when I’m not staring out the window.

Alice Munro once said that staring out the window was part of her task as a writer. What further encouragement do I need? I’ve always believed that time spent away from writing is just as important time spent writing.