My Fairy Nook
I’ve often said I don’t know how some writers do it, writing with music in their ears or writing in a busy coffee shop. But the truth is, I drafted my first two novels in the middle of my sons’ playroom. In the midst of banging plastic tools and cars that go vroom and a walker that spilled a jingle every time my son took a step. So there’s that.
For me, when I’m drafting, the inspiration comes vividly, whole paragraphs pouring out in my ears, whole scenes playing technicolor in my mind. When I’m in the zone, it’s like standing by the edge of a story river. Some days it flows faster than others, but it’s always flowing, and it’s up to me to get it down before it drifts away.
Unfortunately, most of my best inspiration comes when I’m doing anything but writing. Brushing my teeth, showering, any part of the grooming process, really. Things I could do in my sleep, and, for that matter, sleep! So I’m often scrambling to scratch it down somehow, somewhere.
Once, while making peanut butter sandwiches for my boys, an entire scene of a brand new novel began to play in my mind. A couple dressed in 30s-era clothing eating breakfast, the scrape of their silverware, their hostile glances, even the newspaper headline, and the most absurd dialogue.
I was so intrigued, I handed the boys their lunches, grabbed a marker, and filled up the entire dry erase board in my kitchen while my little guys kicked their legs on their stools, chatted about Super Mario, and ate.
But today I mostly write in my fairy nook.
A couple years ago, I set out to create a space that made me truly happy. I got this idea to make bookshelves out of old fruit crates—inspired by my novella The California Limited—and even tracked down a guy who collected vintage labels. I twined fairy lights around them, draped mosquito netting over them, then added a garland of gold stars above them. Combined with a bright yellow desk, the comfiest chair in the house, and a massive screen so I can have several windows open for my research, and voilà!
I research and write in my nook, do Zoom meetings in my nook, FaceTime friends in my nook. With cherished photos, mementos, and books, it’s a purely happy place for me to work.
Writing that first draft is my favorite part of the process. That’s when I’m doing the most research and asking the most questions. Puzzling and plotting and discovering. Immersing myself in the world I’m creating, getting inside my characters’ minds and hearts.
The best way I can describe it is that it feels like falling in love. And I guess my hope is that when reading it, my readers feel the same way.
Catherine C. Heywood is an Amazon bestselling author of romantic historical fiction and a former political speechwriter and communications consultant.
Raised in Red Wing, Minnesota, she studied international politics at the University of Edinburgh and has degrees in politics, writing, and communications from the University of St. Thomas and Boston College.
She explored the law and improv before settling on storytelling. Her worst job was scraping year-old tobacco spit off a shoe factory wall. Her best is doing this.
She lives in western Wisconsin with her husband and sons, and her interests include architecture and design, fashion and food.