WHERE I WRITE #19: With Love From My Desk From A Dumpster


I write at a desk two gay men helped me pull from a dumpster and load in my truck. The legs are bruised, and its paint’s coming off.

I write in a chair my best friend gave me. Right where my thighs rub, the fabric’s torn and the cushion sticks out.

Stephen King suggested it, so I write in a corner facing a wall.

I also write with music on.

Best of all, I write in my bedroom surrounded by books. Meaning I write inhaling the sweat off the cadence of other writers: blood, tears, and come never hurts either. Sylvia Plath, Marguerite Duras, Lidia Yuknavitch. They took me there, so I write from the edge, sure. Attack of the Fifty Foot Woman. It’s more like a little unraveling. Come back down to Earth.

I write from a trailer I bought from the son of a woman who now lives in a nursing home.

I write from a trailer park.

I write from a desert surrounded by mountains. Republican country, a blue state.

I write far away from anyone who cares about my MFA.

Writing doesn’t make ends meet, but selling insurance does. I did that six years, and then five months after I bought the trailer, my former boss laid me off.

Virginia Woolf said a woman needs money and a room of her own to write. Now I’m an adjunct college professor. I write without health insurance or any financial security at all. I write while my son plays his Xbox. Writing as a single mother is selfish. My son plays his Xbox too much.

I can write walking the dogs, cleaning the catbox, doing laundry, doing dishes, doing yard work, vacuuming and sweeping, cleaning the refrigerator, cleaning the stove, cooking dinner, making breakfast, taking a shower, falling asleep, waking up. Sort of.

When you write in your head, you lose stuff.

In graduate school, a male mentor told me single mothers never finish books. I didn’t want an abortion. My son is the best thing to happen to me. Three books like stillborn births near my feet.

Where did the time go? Portrait of A Female Artist In Middle Age. I write from a place that doesn’t feel sexy, admirable, or brave. Still, my father tries to convince me I could write a bestselling novel and become rich and famous one day.

“No, I won’t,” I tell him.

“Why do you do it then?” He wants the answer like everyone else.

“Love,” I say. After all, when was there time for a social life? Writing is my boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, wife.

So here’s where I write. If I live into my nineties or suffer a stroke like my grandmother, my son will have to put me into a nursing home. But if I’m still writing, I won’t die alone.

Alana Noel Voth's work has recently appeared in The Lit Pub, Specter Magazine, Dream Lover, Bluestem, Best of Best Gay Erotica, volume 3, and The Used Furniture Review. The editors at Bluestem recently nominated her story, "Boxy Temples," for a Pushcart Prize, and her story collection, Fall, is due out in 2012 from Tiny Hardcore Press. More from this author →