THE WOODSHOP with Kristin Griffin. "It doesn't happen every time, but often my brain knows to click into writing mode as soon as I cross the lawn and open the door."

img_6721.jpg

Where do you work?

I write in what was a Finnish sauna in my backyard in Oregon. My husband and I converted it into my office but we end up calling it my writing hut. It smells like cedar and has just enough space for my desk and a couple of bookshelves. Because I have to go outside to get to my hut, it makes it feel like a third space—not work or home, really. It doesn't happen every time, but often my brain knows to click into writing mode as soon as I cross the lawn and open the door. It helps that it's so well insulated. Besides the squirrels running around on the roof, it's very quiet inside and makes reading things out loud feel like a performance. It's a dream.

writinghutinterior.jpeg

What’s your view like?

Our backyard is kind of an orchard and so I can see our fig, apple and cherry trees from the window beside my desk. What I'm looking at most of the time, though, is a cedar-planked wall. I've got a bulletin board up there and I post quotes that inspire me, little fragments of ideas, to-do lists, art. It changes all the time.

The Woodshop slips into the workspaces and habits of writers of all stripes and styles. Joan Didion spent the night in the same room as her work when it was almost finished. Don DeLillo kept a picture of Borges close by. Stephen King advises us to “put your desk in the corner, and every time you sit down there to write, remind yourself why it isn't in the middle of the room. Life isn't a support system for art. It's the other way around.”

When, where, and how, do you work?

This glimpse into the writer’s life comes courtesy of writer and teacher Kristin Griffin.

 
writinghutexterior2.jpeg

What do you keep on your desk?

I like to keep my desk clean so there's not much besides some index cards (can never have too many of those...), a few Staedler pens and a photograph of my grandmother pretending to drive a car that wasn't hers. I wrote a novel loosely based on her life and it helped to see her face every day.

 
writinghutexterior1.jpeg

What do you eat/drink while you work?

Writing for me is all about frequent snacking so I'll usually have a glass of water or cup of tea nearby, plus a bowl of berries or dried fruit or those sea salt and turbinado sugar dark chocolate almonds from Trader Joe's.

Do you have any superstitions about your work?

I wouldn't call it a superstition, but I like to stop writing when I know what I need to do next. It doesn't always work out that way, but when it does it feels like a little present from my past self.

Share a recent line/sentence written in this space.

It was August when their father took them fishing for the last time.


About Kristin Griffin:

Kristin Griffin writes fiction and freelances as a food writer. Her short stories have appeared in places like Joyland and Bodega magazines, and she’s published food writing in Serious Eats, Paste Magazine, and Portland Monthly, among other publications. She is a two-time Pushcart Prize nominee.

Before making the switch to writing, Kristin worked in editorial at America’s Test Kitchen and Da Capo Lifelong Press, where she edited cookbooks. She’s received awards and recognition from the Key West Literary Seminar and the Summer Literary Seminars and was the inaugural recipient of the food-writer-in-residence scholarship at the Noepe Center for Literary Arts on Martha’s Vineyard.

She holds an MFA in fiction from Purdue and a BA in English from Connecticut College. Currently, she teaches writing at Oregon State University.

kristingriffin.org


Tell CutBank about your workspace. Submit via email to cutbankonline@gmail.com

THE WOODSHOP with Naomi Kimbell. "I keep all four drafts of my novel piled on top of each other and measure it with a ruler each week to prove to myself I’m making progress." 

30754356658_4b35ab32d9_o.jpg

The Woodshop slips into the workspaces and habits of writers of all stripes and styles. Joan Didion spent the night in the same room as her work when it was almost finished. Don DeLillo kept a picture of Borges close by. Stephen King advises us to “put your desk in the corner, and every time you sit down there to write, remind yourself why it isn't in the middle of the room. Life isn't a support system for art. It's the other way around.”

When, where, and how, do you work?

This glimpse into the writer’s life comes courtesy of writer and videopoet Naomi Kimbell


Where do you work?

I write at an oak desk I inherited from my father. It’s an old, administrative monster from the Anaconda Company, surplused when they closed the smelter and purchased and given to him by my maternal grandmother. She never liked my father, but she liked to make a show of her generosity. It’s about as big as a small car.

31213531148_3faf2dc62d_o.jpg
31213531508_6004fd10af_o.jpg

What do you keep on your desk?

I keep my favorite novels on my desk sandwiched between vintage, puppy-shaped bookends. I keep books on writing filled with rules against semicolons, adverbs, and 50-cent words. There’s a pottery cup my mother made filled with slag from the slag pile in Anaconda—the novel I’m writing has a lot of slag in it—and a handful of pens and pencils in a ceramic hippo. There’s a picture of my dead dog with bows in her hair. A shallow basket that holds marbles, polished stones, and an unopened fortune cookie. A vase of dried tansy. Stacks of poetry. A red NOAA weather radio that doubles as a flashlight. And lists. I keep lists on notecards of things I’m supposed to remember to write. I also keep all four drafts of my novel piled on top of each other and measure it with a ruler each week to prove to myself I’m making progress. 

What’s your view like?

I have a small window with a view of a grapevine that covers our fence. It’s pretty, but the grapes are too sour to eat straight off the vine. Above it, there’s a sliver of sky, and next to it, there’s a red rose putting on an autumn bloom.

44156454995_480b3942d9_o.jpg

What do you eat/drink while you work?

I drink coffee while I work. I drink as much coffee as possible.

Do you have any superstitions about your work?

I have to write every day at 5:00 AM, although on Saturdays and Sundays I sometimes sleep a little later. It isn’t so much a superstition, but a habit that was really hard to develop. It comes from necessity. I have to write before I go to work or I won’t write at all. If I skip a day, I’m afraid I’ll do it again and get used to it and stop writing. Maybe that’s superstitious. If I don’t get up and write, my day is wrong. The world is wrong, more wrong than usual. 

Share a recent line/sentence written in this space.

Rebecca has trained herself to wake before dawn so she can hike to the lake-with-no-bottom just as the sun comes up and wait for the migrating birds.


About Naomi Kimbell:

Naomi Kimbell is a writer and videopoet from Missoula, MT. She has an MFA in creative nonfiction from the University of Montana, and her work has appeared in The Rumpus, The Nervous Breakdown, Crazyhorse, The Iowa Review, and other journals and anthologies. She reviews independent literature for the Atticus Review and teaches online creative writing workshops for WOW! Women on Writing. She is currently working on a novel.


Tell CutBank about your workspace. Submit via email to cutbankonline@gmail.com

“Triscuits and thin slices of Muenster cheese” are essential to this author's craft. Kick back with Mike Mulvey in The Woodshop.

At the first signs of spring, I emerge from my basement office, yawn, stretch, scratch myself, and squint at the light. After a winter of semi-hibernation, I'm hungry for sun and fresh air. I find both out on my favorite writing space - my back deck.

The Artist at Rest

After a morning cup of Irish tea and a half hour watching increasingly depressing morning news, and after the dew has been burned away by the morning sun, I haul my Smith-Corona manual typewriter up to my summer office and carefully park it on a circular wooden picnic table. I park myself in a creaky yellow rocker that, like me, has somehow survived a lifetime of New England winters. "Hello, old friend," I say as I nestle into the wicker seat. I put paper in my Smith-Corona and my feet up on my writing table. I smile as I survey my backyard domain, await my muse, and wait for the caffeine to kick in.

The view from my deck is one I've waited for all winter. I live on a secluded, heavily-wooded parcel of land in eastern Connecticut, equidistant from Boston and New York. I know there are houses on the surrounding properties, but in summer, I see only trees – oak, maple, pine, birch.  They surround, shade, and shelter me from the world and its distractions. My imagination convinces me I'm alone in the middle of a deep but friendly forest. The only sounds are birds, cicadas, and the wind making its way through the assorted foliage.

In addition to my Smith-Corona, I bring notes, a yellow legal pad, a box of white 8 x 11 typing paper, a large glass of un-sweetened green tea, snacks – usually Triscuits and thin slices of Muenster cheese - my bifocals, a paperback Merriam-Webster dictionary and a hard-bound copy of Webster's New World Thesaurus. If it's been a productive winter, I'll bring rough drafts of stories I've work on.

Even though I own several computers, my Smith-Corona is an integral part of my writing process, a process leftover from my college days. This process begins when I try to decipher notes scribbled on assorted scraps of paper. When I've made sense of these scribblings, I arrange and transfer them to a yellow legal pad, revise and edit the sentences and paragraphs, then type everything out on my Smith-Corona. I'll then take these pages and transfer them to the Dell laptop that sits on the coffee table in my family room. Through the sliding glass door I can still see and hear the sights and sounds of spring. Sometimes I'll catch sight of a bird stealing Triscuit crumbs from my plate or a hummingbird sipping from the feeder my wife puts out every spring.

After a hopefully productive morning, I'll have lunch on the deck – last night's leftovers, usually. While carefully re-reading my draft, I might reward myself with a glass of wine. I'm not superstitious, but I sometimes think that if I get over-confident, the piece I'm working on will attract rejection emails like a Trump confident attracts a Mueller indictment.  If it's been an especially frustrating morning or I've inadvertently over-caffeinated myself on green tea, I'll take the bottle out to my summer office - a decent Chianti or a Louis Jadot Pouilly Fuisse. 

On one unusually productive morning, I was able to write the introduction to a non-fiction story I'd been researching and working on for over two years, a story about home.

"One summer, on a whim, I visited the town where I grew up. I'd left in 1965 when I enlisted in the Army and had visited only occasionally, usually on leave from the Army, and later, after I'd been discharged, during semester breaks from college. After a decades-long absence, I expected some changes, but what I found that summer day left me speechless. I stood on the steps of the old town hall and stared in disbelief at what I saw – and didn't see. For the most part, Atlantic and Main had vanished."

A sad and somber tale of a lost city penned on such an idyllic spot.

I read somewhere that life is finite - as is my time in my backyard office. As a New Englander, I know that eventually I'll be evicted. Fall is an especially wondrous time of the year with the blaze of color, but it's also when I'm put on notice. I delay the inevitable by donning a hoodie and sweat pants when I can see my breath, but when autumn leaves begin to clog my Smith-Corona, I know it's time to retreat to my dark and dismal basement workspace. The upside is that without all the distractions of my summer office, I can sometimes be at my most productive. But I'd trade productivity for the view from my back deck any day.

The Mulvey office in the off season...

The Mulvey office in the off season...


About the author:

Michail Mulvey is a retired educator who taught for over four decades at all levels, from kindergarten to college. He holds an MFA in creative writing and has had short stories published in literary magazines and journals in the US, the UK, and Ireland. In 2013 he was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. He lost, of course, but he did take first prize in the 2007 Southern Connecticut State University Fiction Contest. His work has appeared in such publications as Johnny AmericaScholars and RoguesThe Umbrella Factory, Prole, Poydras, The Front Porch Review, Roadside Fiction, Crack the SpineLiterary Orphans, and War, Literature and the Arts.


The Woodshop examines the work spaces and habits of writers both big and small. Joan Didion spent the night in the same room as her work when it was almost finished. Don DeLillo kept a picture of Borges close by. When, and how, do you work? Tell CutBank about your workspace. Submit via email to cutbankonline@gmail.com

THE WOODSHOP: Diana Raab, PhD. "On my desk ... is a seated Buddha, and in his lap is a neutral stone that says Serenity."

Diana-Raab-7045_600x899_300dpi.jpeg

The Woodshop slips into the workspaces and habits of writers of all stripes and styles. Joan Didion spent the night in the same room as her work when it was almost finished. Don DeLillo kept a picture of Borges close by. Stephen King advises us to “put your desk in the corner, and every time you sit down there to write, remind yourself why it isn't in the middle of the room. Life isn't a support system for art. It's the other way around.”

When, where, and how, do you work?

This glimpse into the writer’s life comes courtesy of Diana Raab, PhD.


Where do you do your work?

DR Typewriter.jpeg

I work in numerous places, depending on my mood. My primary working space is the large wooden desk in my writing studio. I sit in front of my wide-screen laptop and am surrounded by my beloved books. On the top shelf above all my books is my old typewriter collection. I often look at them for inspiration.

Sometimes when I feel I need to have white noise or be surrounded by others who are also working, I take my laptop to public places, such as coffee shops and libraries. On beautiful California days, I might sit outside at my garden table with a Buddha beside me. The Buddha inspires me and reminds me of my trip to Bali years ago—a place I’d love to visit again. I also have some large stones in my yard and sometimes for inspiration I will sit on one and write in my journal. Every so often it’s important to me to change my writing environment.

What do you keep on your desk?

On my desk are the papers I’m referring to for the project I’m working on. On the left corner of my desk between two “hand” bookends is the Oxford American Dictionary. Beside the dictionary is a seated Buddha, and in his lap is a neutral stone that says Serenity. On the right side of my desk is a little box with stones and a large crystal in the middle. Next to the stones is a white candle that I sometimes burn for inspiration—to help me get into the writing zone.

What’s your view like?

When I’m sitting at my desk, the view to the left is of two double doors overlooking a water fountain, which attracts many birds during the course of the day. Beside the fountain is a little antique writing table and chair where I sometimes sit, especially when I want to listen to the sound of water cascading down my fountain. The large-paned picture window behind me faces my rock garden. On the other side of my studio facing my desk is a large bookshelf with many of my favorite books. To the right of that is my closet, and to the left of the bookshelf are two paintings—one is Edward Hopper’s Boxcar, and the other is a portrait of diarist Anaïs Nin, made by my husband for my sixtieth birthday.

What do you eat/drink while you work?

I don’t usually eat while I work, but I always keep a jug of water on my desk. Most often, I’m drinking coffee with at least two shots of espresso. On occasion I will drink a green tea, which I also love. When I need to calm myself at the end of the day, I will drink a cup of chamomile tea.

DR Journaling1.jpeg

Do you have any superstitions about your work?

I have an antique Fabergé letter opener that is always on my desk. It’s purple and green, and I think it brings me good luck, which might be considered a superstition.

Share a recent line/sentence written in this space.

Recently, I was writing about the meaning of life. This is one sentence from that article: “When evaluating the meaning of your life, I think you need to consider what makes you happy, as these things, situations, and people are what give your life the most significance.”


About Diana Raab:
Diana Raab, MFA, PhD, is a memoirist, poet, blogger, speaker, and the award-winning author of nine books. Her work has been published and anthologized in more than 500 publications. She holds a PhD in psychology, with a research focus on the healing and transformative powers of writing.

Raab is the editor of two anthologies: Writers and Their Notebooks and Writers on the Edge; two memoirs: Regina’s Closet: Finding My Grandmother’s Secret Journal and Healing with Words: A Writer’s Cancer Journey; and four poetry collections, including Lust. Much of her inspiration comes from diarist and writer Anaïs Nin. Raab’s latest book is Writing for Bliss: A Seven-Step Program for Telling Your Story and Transforming Your Life (September 2017). Her website is: www.dianaraab.com, and you can find Diana on Twitter, and Facebook, too.


Tell CutBank about your workspace. Submit via email to cutbankonline@gmail.com

THE WOODSHOP: Jody Kennedy "I'm not a desk person by nature."

Jody Kennedy's main workspace: "I don't have a desk but I do have a bedside table..."

Jody Kennedy's main workspace: "I don't have a desk but I do have a bedside table..."

The Woodshop peeks into the workspaces and habits of writers of all stripes and styles. Stephen King advises us to “put your desk in the corner, and every time you sit down there to write, remind yourself why it isn't in the middle of the room. Life isn't a support system for art. It's the other way around.” Joan Didion spent the night in the same room as her work when it was almost finished. Don DeLillo kept a picture of Borges close by. When, where, and how, do you work?

This glimpse into the writer’s life comes courtesy of Jody Kennedy.


Where do you do your work?

A: I work pretty much exclusively in my bedroom, leaning against pillows in bed with the computer on my lap. When my kids are in school I sometimes end up on the couch in the living room. I've never been able to do any serious writing in coffee shops or libraries though park benches, empty churches, and out of the way beaches are another story. There's quite a bit of sorting out that happens on my daily walks, too.

02_Kennedy Woodshop.jpg

What do you keep on your desk?

A: I owned a desk once when I was a kid but never used it. I'm not a desk person by nature. There's something about the physical contact with the notebook or computer on my lap that makes for a more visceral writing experience. I expect it's something like a sculptor working with clay, no gloves, only sculpting tools and bare hands. So to answer the question, I don't have a desk but I do have a bedside table with a small lamp, pens, a flashlight and scrap paper (when ideas for a project I'm working on show up as I'm falling asleep or in the middle of the night), an icon of the Virgin Mary, and a bowl of seashells collected from Sanibel Island, Florida (also home to one of the best public libraries). On the floor next to the bed, you'll find a stack of current and to read books along with my notebook.

03_Kennedy Woodshop.jpg

What's your view like?

A: A row of tall, beautiful Cypress trees which (thankfully) block the view of the neighboring apartment building.

What do you eat/drink while you work?

A: Chocolate and coffee (when I'm drinking coffee).

Do you have any superstitions about your work?

A: I'm not sure I have any superstitions about my work though I do spend a lot of my writing time staring.

Share a recent line/sentence written in this space.

A: “… having hitherto known only hardship, suddenly sprouted the most glorious wings and peeling away out of our arms, lifted off and left us for more friendly and temperate environs.”


Jody Kennedy is a writer and photographer living in Provence, France. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in DIAGRAM, Electric Literature’s Okey-Panky, Hobart, Rattle, The Georgia Review, among others. More at her website https://jodyskennedy.wordpress.com/


Tell CutBank about your workspace. Submit via email to cutbankonline@gmail.com

THE WOODSHOP: Danny Caine

The Woodshop is a feature examining the work spaces and habits of writers both big and small. Joan Didion spent the night in the same room as her work when it was almost finished. Don DeLillo kept a picture of Borges close by. When, and how, do you work? Our latest contributor is poet Danny Caine.

1. Where do you do your work?

I write poems generally whenever they hit me, and it's often quick. "When" becomes "where," and "where" could be on a napkin, in the periphery doodles of class notes, on the back of a cardboard coaster, or on the NOTES iPhone app like an apologizing celebrity. But if there's a single place lately that has a statistically higher percentage of sentences originated therein, it'd be the record-player half of my living room. My living room is split in two by what's basically an invisible hallway from my front doormy apartment is big but it's an architectural nightmare, as is the case with rentals in a college town. Anyway, one half has a couch, a piano, and a bookcase, and the other has a craigslist armchair and a record player. I frequently write in the record player half. 

2. What do you keep on your desk?

It's not really a desk, then, is it. The craigslist armchair has a vintage Danish side table next to it, which frequently has my writing beverage of choice (cold brew, bourbon, sometimes both). There's also a rotary phone with an old poison control sticker, and some vintage trophies, plus a few candlesticks. It's all for decorationmy wife Kara has a great eye for vintage knickknacks.  

3. What's your view like?

There's a weird little cut-out into my kitchen (again, weird architecture). Sometimes my cat sits up there and stares at me while I work, demanding to be fed. If I turn around and look out the window, I can see the McDonald's that's very close to my house. I can sometimes hear the drive-through speaker.

4. Have you made any rules for how you use this space?

Not really, though sometimes the cat tries to take the armchair when I get up. 

5. Do you have any routines that help you get into the flow?

I feel like inspiration is fickle and sporadic, but when I absolutely need to get something written, usually reading jogs things up a bit so that something can happen. Poetry begets more poetry; it's a blessing and a curse.

6. Do you have any superstitions about your work? 

I don't think so? Now that you ask, I'm wondering if I should. I can't write poems if I'm wearing blue or prose if I'm wearing red. I can't write if the Cleveland Indians lost by more than five runs the previous night. I can't listen to music from 1998 if I'm trying to write poetry. How do those sound?

7. Share a recent line/sentence written in this space.

I wrote a poem here two days ago, probably called "In the Bathroom of the Ritz Carlton Downtown." Here's most of the first stanza: 

"Hey fuck you automatic faucet

no matter what your shitty laser

eye thinks, I am a body"


Danny Caine's poetry has appeared in New Ohio ReviewHobartMid-American Review, and other places. He's music editor for At Length magazine and has reviewed books for Los Angeles Review and Rain Taxi. He hails from Cleveland and lives in Lawrence, Kansas where he works at the Raven Bookstore. More at dannycaine.com.

THE WOODSHOP: Kate Ruebenson

The Woodshop is a feature examining the work spaces and habits of writers both big and small. Joan Didion spent the night in the same room as her work when it was almost finished. Don DeLillo kept a picture of Borges close by. When, and how, do you work? Our latest contributor is Kate Ruebenson, a Brooklyn poet and filmmaker.

1. Where do you do your work?

During my residency at Arts Letters and Numbers in Averill Park, NY, in spring of 2015, I created my favorite writing space. My desk was on the second floor of an old mill, right by two large windows. I built the desk by placing cinderblocks under a door turned on its side and covered with a cloth.

2. What do you keep on your desk?

I kept snacks, beer, a typewriter, tracing paper, pens & pencils, a bulletin board to post visual fodder for writing inspiration, a book of architecture, and a book of philosophy.

3. What's your view like?

I looked out over a narrow two way road up a hill towards another refurbished mill. My second week at the residency, I saw a double rainbow right out of the two huge windows adjacent to my desk. 

4. What do you eat/drink while you work?

Depending on the time of day, I cycle through drinks and meals. Throughout the day, I keep a glass of water on the table and try to refill it no less than five times. In the morning, I have a cup of coffee; in the afternoon, I will switch to tea or a bottle of beer, depending on my mood. At night, I will switch back to tea again, or stick with water. I like to leave my desk for major meals, but I like having seaweed snacks, pretzels, or nuts hanging around in my periphery in case I'm so busy that I forget to have lunch. I never forget breakfast or dinner, though.

5. Do you have any superstitions about your work?

I have tried to write without my phone or laptop in general proximity, but I always end up wanting or needing to research something I am writing about or check synonyms quickly for alternative word use. I must, however, always turn my phone over on the table or shut my laptop when I am not using them. If I see a notification pop up on either, it is too distracting to continue writing freely, as I feel an itching need to check what is going on outside the world of my desk; this is always a losing battle.

6. Share a recent line/sentence written in this space.

And the passing of time / Feels analogous / To the passing of friends / A long and emphatic / Lament.


Kate Ruebenson graduated this June with her MFA in Poetry from Brooklyn College. A New York City native, she lives in Brooklyn but also spends time on the west coast. She is an Adjunct Professor of English Composition at Medgar Evers College and Brooklyn College. Her poetry has been published in Roanoke ReviewYellow Chair Review, Typehouse Magazine, C4 Magazine and Hanging Loose Press, among othersand last year her short film Ephemreel premiered at Noted Festival in Australia. In July 2015, Kate spent a week on Long Island in workshop with Billy Collins. In August 2015, she was a resident at Arts Letters and Numbers in Upstate New York (featured). This past summer, Kate split her time between workshops with Carolyn Forche and Campbell McGrath at Skidmore College and a poetry intensive with Dorianne Laux at the Port Townsend Writers Conference in the Pacific Northwest. She enjoys writing poetry with a view, whether that landscape is the Cascade Mountains or the traffic on Nostrand Avenue.

THE WOODSHOP: Bonnie ZoBell

CutBank continues its online feature, The Woodshop, with this submission from Bonnie ZoBell, as interviewed by Caitlin Summie. Review our submission guidelines here, then submit your own Woodshop to cutbankonline@gmail.com. And don't forget - chapbook contest submissions are open as well! Review submission guidelines and submit your best work here.


ZoBell WoodshopWhere do you do your work?

I work at a desk in an office converted out of a garage. It's mine-all-mine, so I can use whatever wild colors I like without conferring with anybody. My dogs have their own beds out here.

What do you keep on your desk?

I have a miniature Day of the Dead diorama on my desk that I particularly like—a skeletal waiter and waitress with big toothy grins. I have the painting by Sandy Tweed that was used on my current book over my desk as my muse. Knicknacks from various projects I'm working on—books by people I'm interviewing, tape measures to measure my dogs' necks for cool collars I find online, a Firebox I'm trying to figure out how to use.

What’s your view like?

That's another thing I love so much about my office—I have a window and leave the door open so I can see all my plants. I'm an avid gardener.

What do you eat/drink while you work?

My favorite thing to drink in my office is Cherry Fizz, which writer Kim Church introduced me to this past summer. Cherry juice, club soda, and a lot of ice. Yum.

Do you have any superstitions about your work?

Fortunately, no. I confess the picture I'm sharing with you has been tampered with. If it has to be that clean in order for me to write, I'd never get anything done.

Share a recent line/sentence written in this space.

She was so disturbed that her face contorted into a terrible grimace, facial muscles rioting so that her natural beauty became a knotted mask.


Bonnie ZoBell's new linked collection from Press 53, What Happened Here: a novella and stories , is centered on the site PSA Flight 182 crashed into North Park, San Diego, in 1978 and features the imaginary characters who live there now. Her fiction chapbook The Whack-Job Girls was published in March 2013. She has received a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship in fiction, the Capricorn Novel Award, and a PEN Syndicated Fiction Award. She has an MFA from Columbia University, currently teaches at San Diego Mesa College and is working on a novel. Visit her at www.bonniezobell.com.

 

THE WOODSHOP: Ana Prundaru

MyCat This week's Woodshop comes to us from Zurich, Switzerland, courtesy of Ana Prundaru. Review our submission guidelines here, then submit your own Woodshop to cutbankonline@gmail.com.

And don’t forget – print submissions are open as well! Review submission guidelines and submit your best work to our print edition and contests.


 Where do you do your work?

Most of the time, I write and create art on an old French writing desk in my apartment in Zurich, Switzerland. However, living with an attention-seeker cat, I often have no choice but to evacuate my apartment in favor of a more peaceful setting. The table used to be in front of a large window overlooking my neighbor's lush lawn, but I soon moved it against a wall to avoid my ADD from flaring up each time I saw a squirrel desperately attempting to remember the whereabouts of his nuts.

What do you keep on your desk?

My MacBook Air, a notebook for creative drabble and one for travel-related blabber.

What’s your view like?

My view is a characterless wall. Great, if you want to avoid distraction.

What do you eat/drink while you work?

Depending on the season, my drink of choice is green tea with lemon, hazelnut coffee and banana-dates smoothies with coconut sugar. If I ate at my desk, I'd become victim to my cat's harassment, so I usually avoid it.

Do you have any superstitions about your work?

The red Daruma (a Japanese lucky charm) has to sit on my desk while I work. I have also convinced myself that I need to keep an organized workplace at all times, in order to avoid a cluttered brain.

Share a recent line/sentence written in this space.

Adorned with black rose crowns, we hitched a ride to watch fireflies dimming into dawn.


Ana is a writer/artist who roams the globe sometimes. Her work has most recently appeared in Agave Magazine, Wilderness House Literary Review, Toad, Rio Grande Review, SmokeLong Quarterly and Maudlin House. You can find her at: https://posthaltelei.wordpress.com/

THE WOODSHOP: Max Vande Vaarst

Vande Vaarst WoodshopCutBank continues its online feature, The Woodshop, with this submission from Max Vande Vaarst. Review our submission guidelines here, then submit your own Woodshop to cutbankonline@gmail.com. And don't forget - print submissions are open as well! Review submission guidelines and submit your best work to our print edition and contests


 

Where do you do your work?

Home is where the heart is! Unfortunately, home is also where the TV is, and the Xbox, and the junk food, and a kitchen full of busy work, so it’s hard for home to be where the writing is too. I handle my business best in quiet public spaces – places free of background chatter and piped-in muzak, places where I can be left alone for hours with no one looking to take my order or refill my chai. I’ve worked in laundromats, city parks, hotel lobbies and gym locker rooms. Libraries are totally where the action is though.

What do you keep on your desk?

My workspace isn’t a desk but a backpack, one that goes everywhere I do. Contents include: binder of notes, Macbook Air, four books for school, one book for me, power cord, headphones, pack of gum, car keys. The desk I keep at home mostly functions as a bookshelf spillover zone.

What’s your view like?

My current base of operations is the central library of the University of Wyoming. I work on a sofa in this beautiful wood-walled reading room, looking out on the snowy campus. I get a sufficient peripheral view of the busy undergrads milling through the nearby stacks to stave off cabin fever, but I’m also at a far enough remove to avoid distraction. That cabin fever thing is real, by the way. Sitting down to write is such a massively lonely act in its own right, I’d hate to compound it with any sort of true physical isolation.

What do you eat/drink while you work?

Nothing during the writing process itself, but if I’m going for an all-day library death march I try to keep myself fresh by taking a quick bike ride over to Jimmy John’s and fueling up on Turkey Tom. Jimmy John’s is the best major sandwich chain in America. Step at me repping Quiznos if you want to throw down.

Do you have any superstitions about your work?

Everything’s shit until you read it out loud.

Share a recent line/sentence written in this space.

“It’s a Saturday morning and you’re lingering around the curb outside the Family Discount like a fart in a car seat when Patrick Appleby comes walking by, says they’ve let your cousin Chicago out of prison.”


 

Max Vande Vaarst is a maybe possibly someday up-and-coming writer of imaginative fiction and the founder of the online arts journal Buffalo Almanack. Max’s work has been featured in such publications as A cappella Zoo, JMWW and Jersey Devil Press. He received his B.A. in History and English from Purdue University. He currently lives in Laramie, Wyoming and is pursuing an M.A. in American Studies from the University of Wyoming. Max can be found online at www.maxvandevaarst.com.

 

THE WOODSHOP: Celebrity Edition

Welcome back to the Woodshop! This week, we explored the work spaces of famous writers both contemporary and historical. To submit your own Woodshop for consideration, please visit http://www.cutbankonline.org/submit/web/ or email cutbankonline@gmail.com for more information.


 

maya-angelou-reading

 

 

 

Maya Angelou worked in a rented hotel room, no matter where she lived, with a bible and a bottle of sherry. Read about her workday in this interview with The Paris Review. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

bronte2

 

Charlotte Bronte’s parlour was described by friend and biographer Elizabeth Gaskell as “perfection of warmth, snugness and comfort,” but the many deaths that occurred in the room lent it an air of melancholy. Read more at The Guardian.

 

 

 

 

dahl276

 

 

In the same series from The Guardian, Roald Dahl’s iconic illustrator Quentin Blake reflects on the eclectic shed where the children’s author spun tales of magic and adventure.

 

 

 

catton

 

 

 

Eleanor Catton, youngest-ever winner of the Man Booker Prize, wrote The Luminaries from the corner of her living room. Read more, and explore other author spaces, at Little, Brwn and Company’s Tumblr blog.

THE WOODSHOP: Daniel Lanza Rivers

CutBank continues its online feature, The Woodshop, with this submission from Daniel Lanza Rivers. Review our submission guidelines here, then submit your own Woodshop to cutbankonline@gmail.com.  

Desk Picture for Cutbank Woodshop, Daniel Lanza

 

 

Where do you do your work?

I generally split my work time between my desk, which sits in my living room at home, and a table at one of a handful of cafes in Oakland and Berkeley. I default to a cafe if I'm reading nonfiction or working through a revision, but most of my typing and fiction reading takes place at home, with headphones in if my partner's around. The reasons for this split probably have something to do with the throb and movement of city life, but on the practical side, my partner and I share a one-bedroom apartment and I find it's easier to ignore people you don't sleep next to.

What do you keep on your desk?

The desk itself was a gift, and it was refurbished by the lovely and talented Rachel Garrison, who also painted the octopus you can see on the right side. Among other things, it houses a picture of my parents in someone's college apartment, and another, smaller photo of my dad's mom, who passed away long before I was born.

  On the desktop, I usually keep a stack of manila folders filled with drafts and articles and the occasional glass of water. To the left of my desk, out of frame, I have a small shelf where I put all my office supplies. If I'm doing research or working through something for my dissertation, the octopus might spend weeks at a time beneath a stack of library books.

What’s your view like?

My work area faces a wall, so I try to keep a lot of landscape pictures up to give myself the illusion of open space. I also tack up quotes I'm chewing on and images that kick up a specific memory or emotional texture that I'm trying to pin down in writing. If I turn my chair around, I've got a nice view of a television, a cat tree, and part of the Oakland skyline.

What do you eat/drink while you work?

I don't eat very much while I'm working, but I might grab a beer if it's late in the day. Often, I'll swap that out for something stronger if I've been at it for a while and I'm trying to push through to the end of a project.

Do you have any superstitions about your work?

I like to keep encouraging rejection letters up on my cork-board, which I guess is a little superstitious. Sometimes I'll toss up the note from a fortune cookie or something I find in my wallet or between the pages of a book. As far as the writing itself goes, I generally assume that whatever thought I'm working through will disappear if I don't get it down right away. But that feels more honest than superstitious.

Share a recent line/sentence written in this space.

"There’s always an excuse,” Cliff said, as we stepped out into the fading heat on his parents' patio.

 

Daniel Lanza Rivers is  currently a doctoral student in English and Cultural Studies at Claremont Graduate University, where his dissertation explores connections between communalism, utopia, and the environment in American literature and culture. This spring, his short story “Hilmar” earned a favorable mention in the Washington Post after it was published by Connu. "Hilmar" was subsequently republished as a Selected Short from Scribd.com. His other fiction credits include Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet, Zephyr, and Toasted Cheese Literary Quarterly. 

 

 

THE WOODSHOP: Brad Felver

"By design, there is no view. It's more a bunker than an office. But I built in a floor-to-ceiling bookshelf, and having all of those wonderful books in one place so near me really is quite the view."

Read More

THE WOODSHOP: Sally Deskins

"Before noon: Coffee, water, Diet Dr. Pepper Cherry. Afternoon: tea. Evening: cheap wine or vodka and Diet 7UP. I generally do not eat over here, but if I sneak anything, usually Twizzlers." Inside Sally Deskins' workspace

Read More

THE WOODSHOP: Ana Maria Spagna

"After I’d quit the Park Service to give writing a serious go, friends arrived at our house in a pickup with this desk. It’d been slated for the dump, and they thought I might want it. When we took it apart we found a signature on an inner wall..." Inside Ana Maria Spagna's workspace

Read More