Newtown Literary Contributor: Kelly Jean Fitzsimmons

Writer Kelly Jean Fitzsimmons’s piece “Waked” was featured in Issue #7 of Newtown Literary. Here, she discusses her workspace. You can read more by Kelly Jean on Medium.

My workspace is a hub of assorted creativity that I enjoy opening up to friends and fellow writers. As you can see, it also comes with an in-house editor. My cat, Clarence, has honed the art of the gentle nudge.Workspace2

The peculiarly-angled living room of my one-bedroom apartment in Astoria, which tilts toward the morning sun, makes for a pleasant work haven that has become quite dear to me for two major reasons:

  1. I almost lost it when my building was recently sold and the new landlord jacked up my rent $300 (shortly after I quit my full-time job of almost 10 years to go after being a full-time writer/producer. Yay, timing!)
  2. It is where I host a small salon for writers looking for a relaxed space, motivation, and time to work. I limit sign-ups to four people at a time to keep things intimate, and sessions are available on Sunday mornings and Monday evenings. The YouDoYou Writers Salon’s motto is “Write Together or Procrastinate Alone!”

Having people participate in the YouDoYou Writers Salon has also helped inspire and motivate my writing along with theirs. I enjoy the early Sunday session best: sitting around with coffee, working, and sharing progress, then going out and enjoying the rest of the day.

The index cards pictured are part of the salon’s goal board. When writers come for their first session, I give them an option of filling out a card with a big lofty goal and then, underneath that, I have them write down a smaller goal, something they can achieve in the two-hour session. This is to make the larger goal less daunting. Plus, it is fun to look across the board and see what people are working on, everything from a one-man magic show, to a book of short stories or a memoir. When people come back, they can switch out their index card out for a new one and chart their progress.

The last few months have been strange and wonderful as I transitioned from a steady paycheck to the uncertainty of freelance. Along with teaching a monthly drop-in creative writing workshop at The Astoria Bookshop, I also started as an adjunct faculty member in the College Writing Program at Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey. Now my workspace is not only for writing but where I prep for my classes.

Finally, the podcast mic you see next to my laptop is for No, YOU Tell It! (NYTI), a reading series I produce that “switches-up” the storytelling. Each NYTI performer writes a true-life tale and then trades with a partner to present each other’s story. A hybrid between a literary reading series and storytelling show, No, YOU Tell It! blends the collaborative process of creative writing workshops with the intimacy and immediacy of theatrical performance to create a charged evening of personal stories. For three years and counting, the NYTI creative team and I have produced switched-up storytelling shows all over the city and I’m excited about our upcoming creative non-fiction workshops.

Fortunately, I have been able to hang onto my workspace by negotiating with my landlord to bring my rent increase down by $100. Also, I now have a “Tuesday roommate” who lives with me once a week when he comes into the city for work and helps out by paying a portion of the rent. The rest of the time he lives in Connecticut with his family – something that could only happen in New York.

Feel free to contact me at if you are interested in learning more about any of this, except on how to get a “Tuesday roommate”. You are on your own for that one.


Thanks, Kelly Jean!

 Readers, mark your calendars:


3 thoughts on “Newtown Literary Contributor: Kelly Jean Fitzsimmons

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