Tell us about the places you have written. The actual place where you set up your writing desk. Were there windows you looked out of? What did you see?
Faraway Places was written at 211 East Fifth Street, Apt. 1A, in Manhattan. My apartment was a studio about nine feet wide and not a lot longer. I got the apartment for free and $400 a month for being the super of three buildings on East Fifth. There were two long, narrow windows facing East Fifth Street, but I always had the rust-colored Levolors closed. My first computer was on a small table that butted up against a larger dinner table. From where I sat, I could reach out and touch the kitchen sink. Behind me was one of the only two places in the studio where two people could stand. Right behind me was the bathroom door. You had to move the chair to get into the bathroom. In the loft bed above the bathroom I had a black and white TV with a coat hanger for an antenna. I could only get PBS and for some reason only old Star Trek episodes. There was a window in the loft bed area that looked onto a black-tarred air shaft.
The Man Who Fell in Love with the Moon was also written at 211 East Fifth Street, Apt. 1A, but was completed in Portland, Oregon, on 4005 SE Milwaukie. The building is a store front and I set up my computer in an abandoned hallway. I don't remember any windows, but the door was opaque glass. One night while writing, a Reed College student, a young woman high on acid, ran into my Chevy Citation parked in front of the house. My car was totaled.
In the City of Shy Hunters was written everywhere. I started the book when I lived at 21 SW Mitchell, Portland, Oregon. My partner and I bought a derelict house and built it up from the floorboards. The first room that was finished enough for me to write in was my upstairs bedroom. A low, slanted ceiling, cold in the winter and unbearably hot in the summer, and I-5 roaring past about one hundred feet away. The window looked out to a huge Lombardy poplar that died as soon as we bought the place. Finally we finished the lean-to of the house and I set up writing in there. I bought a new window and a new glass door. After all the years of writing, I finally had my own writing room. There was room for a couch where I could take a nap, my computer and my desk, a book shelf, and a small table. When I looked out my new window, I could see into my neighbor's bathroom. It was a rented house, so I got to see a lot of different people taking a crap.
In 1993, I was given the honor of being the Writer in Residence in Barcelona, Spain. My apartment was a little house on top of a high rise on a street called Alfons X11. On the sidewalk, if you wanted to buzz me, you had to push subratico. A wonderful, scary, tiny elevator. And six floors of winding staircase. Outside my window I could see a big chunk of Barcelona. I had my own private terrace where I hung my washing out to dry. There was a big double bed and a big closet. But where did I put my computer? In a closet. I guess writing is such an internal thing, I can't be distracted by the real world.
I finished Shy Hunters in a back shed at 21 SW Mitchell in Portland. Again, I set up my computer in a corner closet. I got AIDS about then. One day I remember making it out of bed, getting my clothes on, walking slowly out to the shed, sitting down at my computer, starting it up, and opening up a file. I wrote the sentence: On October 3, 1986, one year and a day after Rock Hudson died and four months after Gay Pride, I dialed 911 for Rose. And that was it. I had used up all my energy for the day.
Now Is The Hour and I Loved You More were written where I now live on SE Morrison. My computer is in an armoire in the corner of the living room whose doors I close when I finish writing.
I didn't mention that over the years, in each one of these tiny, crowded, dark corner closets where I put my computer, the computer itself and the area around it always became an altar of shiny found objects, all of which I threw away when I finished the book I was working on.