Will Come the Words: Susan Siddeley’s creative space

 Read the intro to Will Come the Words: Writers & their creative spaces.



SUSAN SIDDELEY lives and writes in Toronto, Canada — and in Santiago, Chile, where she also hosts writers’ retreats at her vineyard parcela.


What I like about my spaces:

I love my desk — an IKEA flat-pack table, with its black top and steel-grey legs — a four-step stagger from my bed. The rooftop view of downtown Toronto, which includes leafy branches, towers, and a silver Airstream caravan beside an (illuminated) orange palm tree, is quite amazing. At right-angles to the desk I have a Billy bookcase packed with notebooks, dictionaries, anthologies, and bits of paper, shell, and rock I have no other place for.

Not quite the view from her Santiago office, but one of the vineyard beyond the pool (photo ©2010 Allyson Latta)

Though not quite the view from her Santiago writing space, this shows some of the vineyard beyond the pool (photo ©2010 Allyson Latta)




In Chile, where I spend part of the year, I use a rustic table set before a picture window. This looks onto a vineyard which morphs from pristine sprouting vines to full green overload, harvest, and red wilt. It was ages before I realized the window also faces the old barn, and I swivel left for that view — a theme to work into writing!


What I write here (and there):

I write memoir pieces, stories, poetry, e-mails, and lists. I find listing a great tool for remembering and collecting things seen, lost, overheard, bought, eaten, observed while walking, etc.

When I get distracted doing crossword puzzles, a small framed message, “WE authors, Susan. We,” helps keep me focused. It was sent by Stan Dragland — who’d kindly read the manuscript of my memoir, Home First: A Memoir in Voices —  in response to my comment “I don’t know how you authors do it!”


My favourite writing quotes:

Can’t decide between:

Douglas Adams: “I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.”

Somerset Maugham: “All the words I use in my stories can be found in the dictionary — it’s just a matter of arranging them into the right sentences.”


My creative spaces online:

Los Parronales Writers’ Retreats (and Spirit Level Workshop with Stan Dragland and Beth Follett)

The Tuesday Prompt (Santiago Writers)


Note from Allyson: In 2010 I was thrilled to be asked to teach for two weeks at Susan’s Los Parronales Writers’ Retreat as well as to lead two days of writing workshops for a separate group in the city of Santiago. Also: I’ve been to Susan’s creative space in Toronto and I can tell you it also features a large, glorious skylight, loosely draped with a white cotton curtain (made by her husband).

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But the essential question is, Have you found a space, that empty space, which should surround you when you write? Into that space, which is like a form of listening, of attention, will come the words, the words your characters will speak, ideas — inspiration.  If a writer cannot find this space, then poems and stories may be stillborn. ~ Doris Lessing

More writers in this series (alphabetically by last name):

Michelle Berry, novelist

Christy Ann Conlin, novelist

Stephanie Dickison (series intro), food & lifestyles writer, nonfiction author

Gail Gallant, YA novelist

Robert Rotenberg, thriller novelist


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  1. Suzanne Adam says:

    Great to see your Toronto writing space. Love the quotes!
    I’ve just started a blog if you need a break from writing: tarweedspirit.blogspot.com.
    See you in January.

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