Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Writing Day(s) : Susannah M. Smith

Writing is a way of being, a way of loving the world.


On the morning of the ideal, boundless day, I close the door to my writing studio and curl up in the dilapidated, moss-coloured velveteen chair beside the radiator. Green tea. Books. Laptop. Journal. Possibilities abound.  

After reading, meditating, researching, or all three, I move to the L-shaped space formed by my writing desk and my art table. Words and images talk to each other here. There may be generation, transcription, or revision depending on the project. There is breakfast. Sometimes followed by hot chocolate. And window gazing.

Wool carpets cover my studio floor and my collection of rocks and crystals moves fluidly across my work surface and the window ledge. During spring, ladybugs gather inside the window frame, supposedly associated with good fortune, joy and the Virgin Mary. In fall and winter, the wind and rain in the trees outside creates a cocoon for thought and imagination.

There are also ancillary activities. Looking at art books. Selecting, cutting, trimming or arranging collage materials. Watching videos about architecture, fashion designers, art history, the decline of the British aristocracy or Renaissance garden design. Drinking tea. Reading reviews. Reserving library books.

I stay in my studio until early afternoon. Then I eat, shower, dress and go outside. In rain and sun, I walk through the city, breathing fresh air and feeling the writing unspool in my mind. I listen and collect fragments and follow trails of crumbs. I scribble in a notebook. I record voice memos on my phone. I take photos. I delight.


On the other days, where there are commitments and time frames, writing happens around the edges. Dreaming followed by writing. Writing while commuting. Listening and writing. Writing between meetings. Writing during lunch. Writing on the sly. Writing in cafes. Writing in cars. Thinking and writing. Researching and writing. Stopping to write. Moments of reading that lead to writing. Inspiration is everywhere.

At night, there can be writing in varying degrees of light and activity. Writing while cooking. Writing in theaters. Writing in the bath. Writing in bed. Writing in the dark. Writing by instinct.

Even on days like these, writing accretes word by word. Worlds build themselves in increments.


Threads of intention and imagination connect my ideal writing days with days of practicality to form a continuous whole where projects take shape and come to life. The work is always being composed, in vision, language or form. It never ceases to be, "images [that] shimmer around the edges . . . everything interacting, exchanging ions." [1]

In this way, all days are writing days. Open to the thought. Open to the story. Open to the new idea. All days, this luminous scope of being.

Susannah M. Smith is the author of the novels The Fairy Tale Museum and How the Blessed Live. Her short fiction, non-fiction, poetry and artwork have appeared in various publications, including Front Magazine, The Globe and Mail, dANDelion, Event, Fireweed and The Antigonish Review. She is also a contributor to First Writes (Banff Centre Press, 2005) and All Sleek and Skimming: Stories (Orca Book Publishers, 2006). She lives in Vancouver.

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