Feeling at Home

IMG_3578By Karen Deger McChesney

Time: 8pm on a Tuesday

Place: Whole Foods

Characters: My critique group

It was my turn. I placed on the table – 5 pens rubber-banded together and a pile of 7 spiral notebooks. I didn’t need to say a word. My critique group knew exactly what this was: My handwritten first draft of my YA novel. I announced, “60,574 words” and showed them the fun that I had – from pages filled with cursive in different colors of ink to pages containing a labyrinth of printing. I’ll remember this moment forever, because they were the ones that nudged me to write longhand when I mentioned that it was my inclination.


Over 15-some years, I did all my writing at home on a big computer on a desk. I constantly tried to quench my desire to wander, move around, daydream, doodle… I started sessions with prompts from Natalie Goldberg’s Wild Mind: Living the Writer’s Life. I tested different chairs – an office chair, a kitchen chair, an exercise ball. I tried different lamps. I wore sweats, sipped chamomile tea, taped inspiring quotes on the wall, did Downward Dog… Everything I tried felt the same: not me. BUT, I kept thinking, this is what I should do.

Two years ago, I surprised myself when I sat in our comfy-cushy Adirondack chair in our living room with my laptop on my lap and wrote…and wrote….and wrote. This WAS different. I completely disappeared. It’s hard to describe. I felt at home.


My writer home is my Adirondack chair, surrounded by notebooks filled with longhand drafts and notes. They’re my confidence. When I pause, I see shelves of books and musical instruments. They’re my confidence. As I write, I feel perfectly fresh air through the windows and hear birds and squirrels chatter. I’m completely at home. I wander and write outside by our garden, or in my studio by my camera lights and art, or, I lay on the floor with paper and markers to draw my way through a plot point, characters, etc. I’m energized.

Every day, I light a candle before I sit in my chair. Once the candle is lit, I can’t walk away. It calls me, it’s the doorway to my writer home.

(By the way, I drafted this blog longhand using two different pens and then I wrote on my laptop outside and in my chair.)



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One Response to Feeling at Home

  1. I loved sharing the experience of you finding your way to your writing home. Beautifully written and deeply felt. Thank you!

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