June 14th, 2011 / 2:56 am
Behind the Scenes & Craft Notes & Excerpts

Friederike Mayröcker and some scattered thoughts on writing spaces

Friederike Mayröcker

Look at this clutter. Kind of glorious, no?

Is a messy mind the mark of a good writer or is that something dysfunctional people tell themselves in order to find comfort in the heaps of scattered pages? What is your writing space like? I don’t really have one, as I’m always on the move these days. I will say that it’s hard for me to sit at a desk. The closest I ever came to incorporating a desk into my erratic work routine was when I would go to IHOP in the middle of the night and stay until morning downing cup after cup of decaff coffee while scribbling in my notebook all bleary-eyed and delirious. But if it were socially sanctioned, I probably would have sat on the IHOP floor. Mostly I do everything while lying down in my invisible bed or sitting on the floor, perhaps because I am lazy…? I don’t believe in furniture. Probably am just undomesticated, feral. At a writing residency last year I had a normal room with a desk and a bed. And what did I do? Pulled the mattress onto the floor and probably didn’t sit at the desk once.

“I MUST FORGET EVERYTHING in order to finish this work, you have to get yourself in harness, no enmeshed, once you get involved in a writing project a writing diktat, there is no going back, or everything will be ruined, isn’t that right, maybe it’s getting your claw hooked into the robe of language, you attach yourself, you get snared, you get snagged in language in the MATERIAL in the TEXTURE, etc., and in the same way language seems to get hooked, attached, it hooks its claws into us the moment we acquiesce, so, we lead we guide each other, in equal measure . . .”
–Friederike Mayröcker, brütt, or The Sighing Gardens



  1. Janey Smith

      Jackie? My room is neat. My books in order. I write on my bed. Or on the floor.

  2. Guest

      Thanks for this Jackie. And thanks for the saddest song in the world, Yorokobashiki-Ichinichi by Katra Turana.

  3. Ocean Vuong

      I can write literally anywhere: on the subway, parks, while my professor is lecturing, even at parties. I think this is due to my intensive practice of Zen pin-point meditation. But I’m not sure because I was meditating long before I became a poet.

      The picture above freaks me out. My OCD is telling me to just start rearranging her room as quickly as possible.

  4. MFBomb

      Disgusting picture.  What a slob. 

  5. Guest


  6. MFBomb


  7. deadgod

      – but she ‘knows where everything is’.

  8. leapsloth14

      Someone once told me, “Creative people make piles.” I’ve pretty much used that to explain my office, a bit of a wreck, to visitors. Not sure if it is even true.

  9. Jane Cope

       Thank you for opening up a conversation about writing spaces. I’m personally a very scattered person and have noticed that my most productive spurts come in cluttered places (which can either mean my bed strewn with books or it can mean a ride on a crowded metro). It’s like I can’t give myself permission to write unless there are these other voices and presences about me. Sometimes I think of these presences as being simultaneously, entrances and exits to the actual writing process. If that makes any sense.

  10. jackie wang

      my college academic mentor had an office 1 million times worse than Friederike Mayröcker’s workspace. she’s nearly 80 and has been at the school i went to since 1965. i wish i had a picture of her office! i would find food that was like a decade old buried under stacks of paper. piles everywhere–barely even an unobstructed pathway. i made the fatal error of letting her borrow a book once. she also lost my thesis in that mess. apparently her house is WORSE–she mentioned that she wanted to add an additional room onto her house to put her crap. she would make her TAs do housework for her. but she was a genius….

  11. Jeje Lin


  12. Matt Sailor

      Are you sure this is not a screen shot from the A&E show Hoarders?