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.
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:
- 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!)
- 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 email@example.com 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:
- Join the Oh, Bernice! Reading Series at Astoria Bookshop on March 19 at 7 p.m. for readings by Esther Lin, Rajiv Mohabiri, and Jonathan Alexandratos, hosted by Jason Fishedick.
- Join Poetry and Coffee at Communitea on March 21 at 6:00 p.m. for a reading and discussion on “Woman!” Tickets are free but required.
- Join Heightening Stories at Astoria Bookshop on March 23 at 7:00 p.m. for Diverse Women’s Words, a reading featuring Ashwak Fardoush, Doreen Wang, and Nancy Agabian, all of the Diversity Writing Project workshop, as well as Catherine Kapphahn of the upcoming The Mindfulness of Play workshop.
- Join No, YOU Tell It! at Jimmy’s No. 43 on March 23 at 7:00 p.m. for “No Vacancy”, a reading featuring Sydney Beveridge, Laura Epstein Forer, Bard Hovenga, and Liz Simons
- Join Heightening Stories for The Diversity Writing Project workshop starting April 2. Register by March 26.
- Join Issue #7 contributor Kelly Jean Fitzsimmons of No, YOU Tell It! for Telling Your True-Life Tale: Creative Nonfiction Writing Workshop. Session I begins March 30, and space is limited. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or to register.
- Want to give your writing a kick in the pants? Heightening Stories presents the Jumpstart Your Writing online workshop starting April 3. Register by March 30.
- Delve deep into your personal writing as Heightening Stories presents the Personal Prose
workshop, starting April 6. Enrollment is open until March 30.
- The Jamaica Center for Arts & Learning is calling for artists to apply for a free one-month residency. For more information, and to apply, check out the JCAL website. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.
- Join Issue #7 contributor Kelly Jean Fitzsimmons of No, YOU Tell It! for Telling Your True-Life Tale: Creative Nonfiction Writing Workshop. Session II begins April 3, and space is limited. Email email@example.com for more information or to register.