Wednesday, July 15, 2009


"I'm sure that I could be a movie star if I could get out of this place." From the song Piano Man, by Billy Joel

Call me sensitive, particular, needy and just plain hard to please, but when it comes to my writing environment, it’s crucial that several elements be in place. In other words, I’ve found that some of my most outstanding prose takes to actual ink on paper when the air temperature is between 45 and 50 degree Fahrenheit, the air quality is green (or good) on the weather charts and the sky is overcast; when I’m wearing indigo jeans that make me feel skinny and a sweater that makes me feel as if snuggled up somewhere in a ski lodge.

I write well when no one is around—not talking upstairs or breathing next to me—and I love when thunder rumbles in the distance, not clangs over my head, when dogs bark in the distance, but not next door. My ability to draft a masterpiece is directly related, I think, to my basal body temperature, my hunger level—I can’t be starving and I can’t be bloated—the clarity of my skin and my mood:  depression breeds too much angst, anger, insanity; sadness, extreme pathos; happiness, shallowness. Jaded, bitter, aloof, independent, defiant, determined, hopeful, energized, focused, level-headed: If I don’t feel any of these productive characteristics, I might as well pretend I don’t know what a pen is.

I’m inspired by mountains (no where near where I live in rural South Carolina, the antithesis of creative energy), shop-lined, oil-stained city streets  (also non-existent in my current environs) bustling with women in business suits and tennis shoes, hot dog and funnel cake vendors, ticket scalpers, guitar players, street painters, international characters and culture. Culture—oh how I do miss the laidback, Polish-Catholic culture of Baltimore, the origins of my entire immediate family.  There’s this one street near the harbor and not far from Sip n’ Bite (a hole in the wall that serves the best breakfast and Baltimore special, scrapple) that is full of Polish shops: bakeries, imported crafts, religious article shops. It’s not a flashy street; on the surface it looks like any old street. No neon signs, not a lot of traffic or people. But when you’re strolling the sidewalk you can actually see the displays in the window and the battered signs over the doors. And the smells are wonderful: pierogis, kielbasa, babkas, breads, the aromas of which just waft warm and fresh right out the doors.

I need to transcend my current setting—hot, subtropical climate, retirement community, artistically infertile—to subconsciously and emotionally get where I need to be in order to write.

Given all that needs to be in alignment for me to create, it’s a wonder I get anything done.  
image courtesy


  1. Hi Monica
    I wondered where this was going for a while and thought it was a blog about procrastination - something I'm especially good at (spent two hours yesterday researching and then buying a new pen on the internet instead of WRITING). But then I got completely lost in the wonderful sights, sounds and smells of that Baltimore street. My mouth's watering as I write!
    I really love your writing.
    PS. looking forward to the appearance of the Coffee Nook - mine's a double-shot Americana please :-)

  2. As I read your very detailed description of your "happy place", I realized how important the setting is for the creative process. If I had to choose one specific thing, it would be silence, something that has become more and more difficult to come across nowadays. Thanks for the trip to Baltimore. It felt great being there for a moment.

  3. Silence is good too..thanks for checking out the blog!


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Two cubicle neighbors with pizzazz and their own personal, but highly similar, set of of innate complexities find refuge in this alley of creative musings. So pull up a chair, join in, as we--artist and writer--share our spin on the world, art, literary pursuits and the seemingly miniscule, daily occurrences that become larger than life.

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