I’m running a new series of guest posts throughout 2015: Fetish Friday. Don’t get all sweaty in the pants—I’m going back to an older definition of the word, and asking artists to show us something that helps them with the ritual of creation, some part of their surroundings—physical or mental—that eases the path into the creative state, whether it be a location, a piece of music, person, picture, a doohickey, whatnot, curio or ornament without which the creative process would be a whole lot more difficult.
Today, our visitor is author, editor and illustrator Cat Sparks:
This house is full of doohickeys, whatnots, curios and ornaments but none of them are essential to my creative process. What is essential, aside from the obligatory computer, is the battered old green rocking chair that sits to the left of my desk.
The chair’s not mine. It used to belong to Rob’s former wife and when I first moved in to share his flat at Wombarra I was all for getting rid of the damn thing as it took up space and nobody ever sat in it. But eventually we bought a house and the chair found a niche of its own in the TV room. For reasons too convoluted to explain here and now, the far end of the TV room became my study and its window my private looking glass. Through it lies a pretty view of the rickety wooden moss-covered bridge straddling the creek that cuts through the back corner of our property. A vast array of birds alight on that bridge all day. Checking them out provides welcome screen distraction, as does that old green chair. That chair and I spend a lot of time together.
I refer to it as my ‘reading chair’. Covered in green velvet, it’s a recliner: old, ugly and kind of wonky but extremely comfortable. I read better in that chair than I do anywhere else. Reading progressed to note taking when I started my PhD, then note taking evolved into full-blown slabs of longhand whenever the spirit takes me. I scribble stuff down, then haul arse up to the computer desk, which, by the way, I found abandoned on the street outside Chuck McKenzie’s house way back when he used to live in Sydney. I tweak and polish my scribble as I type, rendering it into a second draft.
Of course, the minute that chair became important to my creative process, Pazuzu, our spoilt and surly big-boned tabby, decided it to be an essential element of his creative lifestyle too. We work that chair on a timeshare basis, with him mostly hogging all the prime morning real estate & me getting a go mid afternoon. I’m pretty sure I’d be a more prolific and potentially more fabulous author if Pazuzu picked some other place to sleep.
As well as the chair, my writing process requires a wadge of A4 white ruled legal pads and black Sharpie pens, size: fine. I have become a tad obsessive about those pens. Several years ago at an American convention a prominent Australian author offered me that exact type of pen in my moment of need, swearing that they were the best pens ever. He was not wrong. The house is subsequently littered with them and I won’t write with anything else if I can help it – not even when jotting shopping lists. The fine point on those Sharpies gets worn down pretty quickly, which means I go through them like other people go through Nespresso pods. Which I also go through a fair few of. So sue me.
Cat Sparks is Fiction editor of Cosmos Magazine. She’s halfway through a PhD on YA climate change fiction and almost finished revisions on a novel she seems to have been writing since the dawn of time.
Are you a creative artist? Fancy joining in and letting us know about that special item, object, location or cosmic state of being at the heart of your creative process? There’s always room for another lunatic in the asylum: email me and make your most excited Horshack noise.