A Cross Between a Rabbit Hole and a Storm Cellar ~ View From the Keyboard of Lauryn Allison Lewis

Lauryn Allison Lewis is becoming a literary go-to girl here in Chicago. She’s a regular reader about town (including reading at tonight’s QUICKIES! Chicago event at the Innertown Pub at 7:30) and is known for her fine reviews in Literary Chicago. Lauryn writes fiction, book and bakery reviews, interviews, and essays. Her fiction has been featured at Curbside Splendor, Dogzplot, Bartleby Snopes, and other sites. Her haute chapbook, The Beauties, can be found at LaurynAllisonLewis.com. Her first novella is forthcoming from CCLaP in 2012. She is an assistant editor at Barrelhouse Magazine, a coeditor of Literary Chicago, and a regular contributor for both.

And here is where it all happens—

Lauryn: My writing space is much more like a closet than an office. It juts out from the corner of my living room, which sometimes makes it a noisy place to work. Still, the natural light in this corner of the house is better than anywhere else, and I shamelessly hog sunny patches; I am very much like a cat that way.

I usually write directly into my laptop, but I also keep a journal close by to reference notes I’ve made, or story-clues I’ve left myself in the night. Yes, I am one of those weird sleep-writers. This morning’s note, for example, says: a cross between a rabbit hole and a storm cellar. This makes sense to me. I have a Royal Quiet De Luxe typewriter that I will sometimes use to write letters and poems. Whenever I use the typewriter I feel compelled to pour myself a gigantic scotch, chain smoke cigarettes, and channel Ernest Hemingway. This only ever happens very late at night.

Along with my books, I keep a lot of little doodads on the shelf beside my desk. The ceramic Chinese Good Fortune Kitty was a gift from my mom. Not sure yet if it actually brings good fortune, but its little winking face makes me smile and I gaze at it a lot when the writing isn’t jiving. Last winter I constructed bird’s nests for some robot-birds I’d been dreaming about. Did you know that robot-birds lay square eggs? Well they do. Keeping them nearby reminds me to strive to see the world in less-usual ways.

I have a cork board hanging directly behind my swivel chair. Right now it is full of images that help me to conjure the emotions I want to put into the story I’m working on. The image in the upper left corner is of Leo Tolstoy’s grave in the Stary Zakaz Wood. Kind of morbid, maybe, but I think it looks so beautiful and peaceful. Below that is a tiny painting of Kurt Vonnegut made by my friend Nikki Hollander. Lots of images of farms, forests, and bare trees. A letter from Stuart Dybek written on yellow legal pad paper. The card of an editor at Greywolf who’s interested in the novel manuscript I’m wrapping up. A blue paper badge that says COURAGE, which I found going through my grandma’s things, just after she passed away. My husband calls this a “mood board”. I call it motivation.

So that’s it! Nothing fancy, but I do get a ton of work done here. I wrote ninety percent of The Beauties here, including this:

The Beauties (an excerpt)

There was silence between them and a late summer gust blew across the fallow wheat field to the north of the house and whistled through the wild raspberry patch growing gnarled beside it. Seconds stretched to snapping, then sprung back with sonic force, creating in the wake a silence so cataclysmic, so emptied of sentiment, it expanded infinitely and devoured all surrounding sound; it leeched color from the landscape. Fern rubbed her bare arm as though from cold.

“Happy Birthday, Fern,” Jerry said again, because he was the father, a man; because it was his duty to push on. He felt the words come apart in his throat and splinter his voice. He couldn’t keep watching her rub her arms like that, afraid of what he’d see, afraid to see her rice paper skin threaded with tiny blue veins slashed apart, flayed. He fought the urge to slap her arms away from each other, wanting suddenly to forbid her body the comfort of its own touch. He didn’t want to see her without the speed of a horse blowing her hair back the way he’d imagined it.


If you’d like to read more from The Beauties, you can find the chapbook at my website: LaurynAllisonLewis.com. There’s also a rundown there of the readings I’m participating in during the month of July. Thanks for letting me share my view from the keyboard!

Thank you, Lauryn, for the tour. Break a leg at the reading tonight. Hey, and writer/readers, why not contribute to View From the Keyboard? Guidelines here. -PMc←

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