How I Write – Dennis Sweeney

room in Malta
When/how/where do you write?

I write on my bed sitting cross- or straight-legged, my laptop resting on my legs in front of me. Sometimes I edit at a desk, or write early drafts in a notebook, but there’s something about the bed and the computer. I think I need total comfort, the total certainty that I won’t be bothered, in order to transcend the annoying immanence of the physical world. So: a liter of water on the nightstand, laptop charger within reach. Having to get up or adjust my position feels like an incalculable injustice. I have to believe that I am outside of time.

The bed always changes, though. At the moment I am in this narrow squeaky cork-board bed in a tiny room in Swieqi, Malta. For the seven months before that I was in a wider, less squeaky bed down the road. Previous to that, I sat on my frame-less mattress in Corvallis, Oregon. I smudged the wall over my bed from leaning against it so much.

I look forward to better beds in the future. The present’s kind of dismal, as you can see by the grainy accompanying photo, which more than does my setup justice.

Do you eat while you write? If so, what?

No way! Every once in a while I think it’ll be a good idea, but then my mind’s on eating and not on writing. I can’t multitask.

Do you play music while you write? If so, what?

I can’t even listen to ambient music while I write. I think I am an easily distracted person.

What are you reading right now?

Marcovaldo by Italo Calvino. I found it for four Euros at a bargain sale, and it’s not as fun as I hoped it would be. Stoner by John Williams, on the other hand, which I just finished, was exactly as good as everyone says it is. Even better. I loved it.

Dennis James Sweeney’s stories appear in The Collagist, Crazyhorse, Five Points, and Indiana Review, among others. He is the Small Press Editor of Entropy, the recipient of a Fulbright grant to Malta, and the author of two chapbooks of poetry: THREATS and What They Took Away.