Definition of Phrontistery: noun, a place to think or study
My niece, Hayley, jumped into bed in the middle of the day and covered her head. We were on vacation near Sarasota, trying to balance homework with a good time. Through a muffled voice, she kept saying, “Leave Me Alone.”
A junior-high paper on the pros and cons of gun control was due in three days. Her parents stood on each side of her, and opposing ends of the issue of weapons and permits. They were gently unified in their goal that she just start writing and all would be solved. But a contest of wills ensued, and Hayley popped her head out from the blankets. She said, “I’m thinking!”
I butt in with, “In her mind she’s working on it.”
What looks like stalling to others can be vital to the process of getting in the chair with a firm concept from which to build. My strategies include whispering to my orchids, talking to myself, or arranging new vignettes from my vintage French pottery collection. The gym is good for finding the rhythm of a dialogue, but running errands kills the day. So does a lot of talking with others during peak writing hours. Hiding under the covers wouldn’t be my choice, but when Hayley came out, she was ready to write.
Creative concepts naturally happen in all kinds of situations. But to grasp from the ethers the perfect phrase, a well thought out essay, a finished book, or to write as a spiritual practice, a phrontistery is required. I need proper ergonomics in an aesthetic environment, and silence. Otherwise, Good Ideas Gone By is the only story there is.
Photo of orchid by Marissa Bridge
P.S: For the rest of August, Marissa and I are suspending this column. We need to sink into our individual phrontisteries and work on bigger projects. Bearing much gratitude for you, our followers, we’ll resume soon.