Where I Write: Lori Ostlund

This is the room in which I write.


Perhaps you are thinking that I am a poor photographer, that the camera, in more skilled hands, could have captured the room’s charm, but the truth is that the room has no charm. Having a charmless room is what allows me to write.

We call this space my Dungeon. To reach it, I go down the outside backstairs of our house, into the garage. The previous owners did a cheap conversion, turning part of the garage into a small room in which our guests claim to sleep extraordinarily well because there are no windows. If you go through the guestroom, into the bowels of the garage, you find yourself in my room.

During the summer of 2013, I spent seventy hours a week here, piecing together the scenes and pages that became After the Parade. The main character lives in a similar garage conversion, and he thinks often about how the house would buckle down on him during an earthquake. I think about this also. On my walls are photos of some of my former ESL classes, some artwork, and a postcard that I received one day a few years after my first book came out, from a woman in Arizona who wrote to say that she had been a reader for over sixty years and had never before been moved to write to an author. When I am feeling restless or uninspired, I stand up and read the postcard or look at the photos.

On the left is what appears to be a window, festively curtained with a long strip of ikat, though appearances are deceptive, for this “window” looks into the garage, the ikat concealing the view of our garbage cans. When I am writing, I am not someone who can be trusted with a view, not even of garbage cans.

After the Parade

After the Parade

By Lori Ostlund