Monday, May 2, 2011

on the quest for the perfect writing cabin

INTERN and Techie Boyfriend's residency at their mountain hideaway is swiftly coming to a close as the owner prepares to rent out their cabin to more lucrative and slightly sinister-sounding Summer People. As a result, INTERN has been spending a lot of time on craigslist looking for a cheap place to live.

"Just a little cabin tucked in the woods somewhere," thought INTERN. "A quiet place to finish those revisions. It doesn't even need indoor plumbing."

With this fantasy in mind, INTERN looked at postings for dozens of cabins and apartments advertised as "perfect for a writer or artist."

Well, it turns out landlords have some pretty in-ter-esting ideas about what writers are looking for in a writing cabin. Here are the features, taken directly from craigslist posts, that no writer can live without:

“on demand hot water”

You read that right, people—hot water's on DEMAND. That means no more formal application process for taking a shower.

“extra-large walk-in closet”

Perfect for storing all those designer shoes writers are constantly buying. No wait, it’s for storing all those bulky manuscripts writers are constantly printing. Or for hiding all those bodies writers are constantly axe-murdering. Or some combo of all three.

“includes satellite TV”

For keeping the writer's significant other entertained while the writer does yet another round of revisions. Because lord knows writers' partners don't have a life calling of their own.


BWA-HA-HA-HA-HA. Oh West Marin, you are too funny.

“single individual ONLY. no guests”

Because writers hate nothing more than OTHER HUMANS.

“stunning spiral staircase”

So when people ask the writer when the writer's book’s coming out, the writer can distract them by saying, “Look, it’s a spiral staircase!”

“plowing EXTRA”

Plowing extra? Plowing extra what? Are we talking wheat fields here? Snow? Will the writer be snowed in with her manuscript if she can't afford to pay extra? Would you leave the writer to starve or freeze, her fingers still poised over the keys?

“BIG dogs welcome”

From what INTERN can gather, this means NYT bestselling authors only, unknown poets need not apply. Snooty, no?

“Previously tenanted by the retired editorial editor of The Providence Journal!”

Come on, writers—that’s, like, second only to living in Jack Kerouac’s house.

“am looking for “normal” couple to live here”

Does that mean Techie Boyfriend can’t wear a dress?

“wood burning fireplace”

Don’t you mean, rejection letter-burning fireplace?


Suffice to say, INTERN has not found the perfect writing cabin yet. If anyone is skimming the classifieds and happens to see one, please pass it along.*

*but no plowing of any kind. please.


  1. Too funny. Best of luck finding a cabin.

  2. "Extra large walk-in closet" = writing room.

    Best of luck with this. Any of them sound better than moving back into the back of the truck.

    -- Tom

  3. Um, you don't care about indoor plumbing???

    Whoa. That's hardcore. Call me spoiled, but I need (working) indoor plumbing and lots of it.

    Good luck on your quest! :)

  4. Good luck searching! Sounds like cabin searching is nearly as adventurous (and possibly perilous) as apartment searching in NYC.

  5. Now, who DOESN'T think that they're normal? "Oh, shucks, they want a NORMAL tenet... better keep looking."

  6. Perhaps they will take trade. Instead of $1800 a month you can offer 1800 words a month. The landlord can name the genre.

  7. Ahaha, as someone who went to college in and loves Providence (and has friends who do news work there)...oh ProJo, you are so lacking in clout. I once encountered a book with a ProJo review blurb on the cover. "Oh dear," I thought, "that's not a good sign."

    Good luck!


    INTERN will even write extra words to cover water and electricity.

  9. oh you funny, funny intern. I didn't even realise that real estate clones marketed directly at writer's and artists. The general assumption would normally be that we live passed out in gutters, wouldn't it?

  10. Intern, it's a shame you aren't looking for a tiny beach cottage on the gulf coast. I could hook you up. Quiet, white sand beaches, tiny town, southern hospitality, fantastic beach view....heaven. And I would definitely give you a cut rate on rent for a manuscript critique! (even during peak season) Good luck on your search.

  11. I've been musing on "writing cabins" lately after visiting the home of composer Edvard Grieg in Bergen, Norway. He had a summer home on a lake (bought, of course, later in his life when he had plenty of cash from actually selling his compositions) with a little cabin down on the shore for his work space. It was so beautiful and the setting was so inspiring, it was tempting to think that even I could write fantastic music if I could only do it in a setting like that. However, in my rational moments I know that it was probably the same for him as for the rest of us . . . long hours in the chair (or on the piano stool), getting distracted by the lovely water outside and procrastinating on the actual drafting of new work. Perhaps the "perfect" writer's cabin is a place that has the bare essentials for now but is just uncomfortable enough that you are motivated to work hard to get the manuscript done so you can move on!

  12. Dana: gulf coast, eh? very tempting! right now it's looking like a combination of van-hobodom, couchsurfing with various relatives, and living in a tiny resource library at Techie Boyfriend's friend's commune in rural Maine. or possibly squatting a stone casita in Spain and raising a pet bull.

  13. Sabbatical Wife: it's true that too much loveliness can be distracting if one does not possess an almost savage level of self-discipline.

    for the first couple months INTERN and Techie Boyfriend were living in this little cabin in Northern California, the whole valley was stuffed with fog. word count: high. now, the sun has come out and the whole valley is stuffed with rattlesnakes. word count: on the decline. but perhaps to rise again soon if INTERN gets bit by one.

  14. Mmm, Intern, rattlesnakes outside might keep me pretty well chained to my writing desk inside!