My Writing Space: Carole Snow Smith

“My Writing Space” is a series about writers and the places in which they write. To contribute, send a photo of your writing space along with a paragraph or two describing it and its influence on your writing to beaver[at] with the subject line “My Writing Space.”

Stark and meaningful. I write flush against a beige wall next to the front door of my urban apartment. I don’t know if I am in line with the tenants of Feng Shui, but I recall something about having your desk face the door in alignment with being open to opportunity. I am indeed open as I will cash in any straight navigation through a five year plan, in favor of the ten year plan that leaves you eating flat bread with strangers in the alleys of the world.

Six, suspended objects that accompany me when I write taut defiance, instability and loyal memory. Moving clockwise, we start with the skewed still life from my now passed-on grandma, Daisy. She was Cumberland Plateau stock with a prolific catalog of mediocre paintings. Most  were Tennessee landscapes in the Appalachians, but on the day of her funeral, my cousin and I took this off the hooks from her secretary desk in the attic workspace. I like it because it appeared dark like the attic space and the pencil jar and faint plate in the background existed in a vacuum.

The next item, my framed diploma from some elite night school. I’m also sheepish at the thought, but single moms who take the backwards route and ten years in undergrad need a gold star too. So it sits and I have yet to make more salary than my tuition to that school. When the alumni office calls at the end of the year, I chuckle and wonder what it’s like to buy something at the mall, full price.

A wooden plaque with Anne Lamott’s famous warning, “If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.” is anchored by twine, words etched with a wood burner. A gift from my friend Ben Smallwood, Colorado artist who for my birthday wanted me to have permission to write freely.

In the rustic frame sits a page from an old college Blue Book exam where I have written out the definition of “cognitive dissonance”. I say in parenthesis that I like this theory because I’ve been pissed off all my life. My professor writes back, “me too!!” And to think, he gives advice on marital communication on PBS sometimes.

Above that in the ornate, teal frame is a print of Zelda Fitzgerald’s Save Me the Waltz. I appreciate her, by proxy to F. Scott Fitzgerald. I know in my own life how tragic the muse figures can be, but aren’t they fun for a moment to drink and adventure with?

At the top, a Nepali mask. I have no idea what it means or why it’s significant. I like that it was a spur of the moment gift from my friend Rabindra as my airport cab pulled away from the American Alpine Clubhouse in Kathmandu. I said, “Rabindra, what is this?” I think he gave the classic it keeps the spirits away response—but I could only muster in return, “it looks like my mother,” and blew a wild kiss as the car moved down the cobbled back alley.

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