Writer Katie Flanagan’s work was featured in issue #13 of Newtown Literary. Below, she photographs and tells us about her writing workspace. You may read more about Katie and her work on her website.
Let me tell you why I’m the luckiest writer in New York City. No, I’m not a published novelist (if you’re a lit agent reading this—want to talk?). No, I don’t make a living off my writing (so far, my short stories have netted $85!). But I have a laptop, some creativity, and an entire Writing Room.
Anyone who has read anything about New York knows that space is hard to find here. When my husband Michael and I went apartment hunting, I was hoping to find an affordable two-bedroom that we could convert into one-bedroom, one guest-room-slash-office-space. We saw a couple of apartments that weren’t great—walk-ups, dark, and those with a general sense of mold. Then our broker took us to paradise.
Yes, that’s right: paradise. It’s found in the calm blocks of Sunnyside Gardens and comes in the form of a two-and-a-half bedroom apartment. The half room is just large enough for our two desks and a bookshelf. Its windows overlook the fenced backyard, which boasts peonies and tulips and even a rose bush, despite my mediocre gardening skills. When we first moved in, Michael tried calling it the Office (to be fair, he has a desk there, too) but to me, it has only ever been and always will be the Writing Room.
Usually, my writing space is the desk just beyond the window, from which I can survey my little piece of nature whenever I need inspiration. Squirrels chase each other on the boughs of a whimsical old tree, and even in the winter I’m visited by blue jays and redcoat cardinals. On nice days, like this very moment of writing, I bring my laptop outside to the little black patio table and bask in the sunshine. Butterflies wing by. Neighbors perfume the courtyard with early-summer barbecues. The soundtrack is nothing but birds chirping, green leaves rustling, the occasional child screaming in play.
Before we found our paradise, my writing space was wherever I could perch my laptop: mostly in my bed, sometimes on a kitchen table, occasionally squished between other people’s elbows in a café. For a few months, I wrote a novella by scribbling on a notebook during my subway commutes. It didn’t stop me from writing, but neither did it inspire me. At a café, I’d grow uncomfortable from being squished; in bed I’d grow sleepy; on the subway, I had to finish mid-sentence when I got to my stop.
But now, I look forward to my Writing Room as much as I look forward to writing itself. When I’m frustrated with a sentence, I look to my robin friends for advice, or marvel at the radiant colors of the flowers, or meditate on the persistence of the weeds. My Writing Room does more than shelter the tools of my craft; it creates a mental Writing Sanctuary where I can find more joy and more creativity for my art.
My writing is not yet sold in stores near you. I don’t have many credits to my name, and I’ve still got a lot to learn about this art. But whenever I want to write, I have paradise. And that makes me the luckiest writer in the world.