Monday, April 15, 2019


Finding Your Writing Home by David W. Berner @davidwberner #writing

Finding Your Writing Home

By David W. Berner

Virginia Woolf called it a “room of one’s own.” George Bernard Shaw wanted his old hut to be a hideaway from people so he could work. Dylan Thomas wrote in the privacy of a room above an old boathouse in Laughnare, Wales.

A writing place, a sacred spot to work, has been key to the work of many famous writers. And as I began my writing life years ago, working more seriously writing essays and books, I too, found I wanted that special kind of space, a room of my own.

For many years, I wrote almost exclusively in coffee shops. The buzz and whir of a coffee house was comforting, and the act of people watching was both research and a release. But in time, I wanted something more personal, a personal space where I could fall hard into my thoughts. 

So I studied Thomas’ boathouse, Shaw’s hut, and then Thoreau’s cabin. I considered photos and drawings, noted what they kept inside these writing places and how they worked in them. I found more—Roald Dahl’s shed and the extraordinary shack of poet Robert Stephen Hawker built into a hillside Cornwall in England. Then I read Michael Pollan’s book, A Place of My Own: The Architecture of Daydreams. It’s the story of his planning and building a writing hut for himself in the Connecticut woods.

With all this and a dream, I set out to build my own writing shed.

I found a company that could deliver an 8-by-10 foot structure, complete with shingled roof, a window, and a door. It needed to be painted and the inside was unfinished. A flat bed and a Bobcat moved it into a corner the backyard, we maneuvered it into place and augered it into the ground. I soon began the process of insulating, nailing barn wood paneling to the walls, tiling the floor, and whitewashing the unfinished ceiling to best match the interior of Thomas’ boathouse. A bookshelf and a desk came next. I moved two lamps and a space heater inside. White blinds were installed on the window and the door. I lugged in books, a chair, and my old six-string acoustic guitar. And when all was complete, I lit a candle and sat at the desk in the quiet of a spring evening. I had found my writing home.

I would love to tell you that since the building of the shed, all of my books have soared to the top of the bestseller list and I’m now in the process of writing a literary masterpiece. Of course this is not the case. But I write in my shed nearly every day of the year now. I read and I think there. I take no phone calls. I read no email. The shed is my holy space and it has become my source of literary light; it is my writing home.

There is no perfect writing environment. It is entirely a personal matter, as individualistic as a hairstyle. And it could also be a moving target, shifted by specific needs or project’s requirements. The late writer Jim Harrison said at one time he could only write in his cabin or his house, but in an interview for a publication for the University of Iowa, Harrison added that he got liberated once and wrote an entire novella in a Montana motel. But whatever or wherever it is, it is worth the search for it.

Nearly all of the writing of my latest memoir, The Consequence of Stars was done inside my shed. And there is no doubt that that special place helped me focus on the memoir’s main theme of “finding home.” The shed is my home, my writing home, and it brought the overall thread of the book to a complete and full circle, and solidified my belief in the power of what Hemingway called “a clean, well-lighted place.”

It seems some writers, like Harrison at one time, may always be looking for a fresh creative space that gives renewed energy to the work. And maybe someday I’ll go searching again, but for now, the small shed in my backyard, 150 feet from the house’s rear door, is my one and only hallowed space.

About the Author

David W. Berner is a memoirist whose personal stories tell all of our stories. His memoirs reflect on our collective relationships and how those experiences link us to the world we share. From stories of fathers and sons, to road trips, travel memoir, pets, and music, David's books are mirrors of our common human experience. 

Storytelling has been a part of David's life since his days as a young boy, delivering The Pittsburgh Press newspaper. He began telling his own stories and the stories of others as a reporter for numerous radio stations, including freelance work at National Public Radio and more recently for CBS in Chicago.

David's reporting background has given birth to award-winning memoirs and novels based on his own experiences.

He has been the Writer-in-Residence for the Jack Kerouac Project in Orlando, where he was privileged to live and work at the Kerouac House in Orlando for two-and-a-half months. He later was honored with the Writer-in-Residence position at the Ernest Hemingway Birthplace Home in Oak Park, Illinois.

About the Book:

Author: David W. Berner
Publisher: Adelaide Books New Yotk/Lisbon
Pages: 200
Genre: Memoir/Essays

THE CONSEQUENCE OF STARS is a unique and thoughtful memoir on our eternal search for home. Told in a series of essays on love, loss, travel, music, spirituality, and the joys of solitude, memoirist David W. Berner, reaches deep to discover where he belongs and ultimately where all of us belong.
"Berner gives us both travelogue and memoir in living, breathing depth and color." --- D.S. White, Editor-in-Chief, Longshot Island

"A writer with an enormous sense of humanity." -- San Francisco Review of Books

"Reflective, engaging...Berner's authentic storytelling takes you with him on his travels through the chapters of his life where in the end, he reveals connections to finding a place to be, his home under the stars." -- Nancy Chadwick, author of Under the Birch Tree


Adelaide Books

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