The World Is A Writer’s Room

“You can’t tell the forecast by peeking out the blinds.” jb

As I paid for my coffee at a Wawa one morning the cashier pointed to my shirt and asked IMG_6784what it meant. Unable to recall what I’d thrown on that day (it was before my coffee, after all) I looked down at the picture of worn hiking shoes and the words “Not all who wander are lost.” I told the young woman that, to me, it meant that it’s all about the adventure, regardless your destination.

That morning in Wawa came to mind recently as I read about British poet Jean Sprackland who wrote, “When I am writing I am only happy when I have no idea what I’m doing.” I don’t believe for a second that Sprackland doesn’t know what she is doing, but I do believe a writer can begin a story with a plan, and then follow the flow of the characters and scenes to arrive at a better story.

Much is made of the writer’s room. Granted, it’s important to have a dedicated workspace that is conducive to creativity, where your imagination can flow through your fingers onto the page. But most writers agree that ideas and stories aren’t conceived with a pen in hand or fingers on the keyboard. Stories happen in day-to-day life–in the wilderness and at the supermarket, banging nails and mowing the lawn, in homes and on street corners, on trains and at race tracks, in bedrooms and inside pubs. Ideas take shape in mundane jobs and on the battlefield, jumping out of an airplane and hiding in a closet, running from the law and trekking the white blaze on the Appalachian Trail, or the Schuylkill trail for that matter.

Screen Shot 2016-01-24 at 11.48.15 AM

Painter Grant Wood, the author of American Gothic, which along with the Mona Lisa are the two most recognizable paintings in the world, said that despite his travels and European training, he’d “realized that all the really good ideas I’d ever had came to me while I was milking a cow. So I went back to Iowa.” I’ve been fortunate to visit inspiring places like Pikes Peak, Mount Rainier, Mont Blanc, and the Cliffs of Moher, yet many of my stories come back to the streets and waterfront of Philadelphia.

Writers and poets need a dedicated place to practice their craft, a place conducive to solitude and creativity, but for heavens sake get out into the world to write your stories.



About Jim Brennan

Jim is a Philadelphia-based writer, author, poet and editor for the Schuylkill Valley Journal.
This entry was posted in Running and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to The World Is A Writer’s Room

  1. Mark Mangan says:

    You never know when an idea, story, poem, song, etc. will pop in your head. Carpe diem!


  2. Sophie33 says:

    A lovely post this was, dear Jim! I really enjoyed it too! 🙂


  3. A wonderful post, Jim. I agree. The best art does come from listening deeply, observing intently, and experimenting with ways to best convey what touches us. And art is everywhere, like that of the cashier who knew how to ask a question with sincerity and in doing so, inspired important insights and such a lovely story.


  4. Tony says:

    Nice post, Jim! A thought provoker. I have been writing for over 50 years although only the past 16 (since I retired) have been totally for my own purposes and enjoyment. I must say that while I love to write sitting at my desktop with the giant windows overlooking Lake Michigan, I have come up with tons of my blog posts while riding my bike. The ideas roll around in my head as I pedal and I come home and type them out as if they were dictated. Actually, that seem somewhat similar to the milking the cow technique.


    • Jim Brennan says:

      Absolutely, Tony. Riding a bike, hiking a trail or digging a ditch, that’s where stories happen. I never leave home with out something to write with, or at least my iPhone notes. Be well, my friend.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Though Wawa’s were known only within a limited radius of SE PA ( my characters frequent them in my fiction) they now have sprung to life in parts of Florida. Share the wealth.


    • Jim Brennan says:

      Hey Mike, thanks for reminding me that I knuckle-headed and forgot to link Wawa with their website. Us Philly guys (and Delaware Valley brethren) know that Wawa is the oasis in the dessert, the modern miracle of subsistence, the one stop for virtually everything you need from coffee to dinner and everything in between. And as long as it remains a public company it’s likely will remain a local phenomenon. So thanks.

      Liked by 1 person

Comments are closed.