Writers' Rooms: Teresa McWhirter

Teresa McWhirter

(c) McWhirter

I'm a binge writer, always have been. I'll write ten hours a day for weeks at a time, then won't type another word for five months. It's impossible to know when the creature will appear (I think of it in the same way that my Irish boyfriend describes alcohol, as in, "He's been into the crrreature for three years now!"). When it does come around I try to give it what it needs. Everything else gets neglected. Phone calls go ignored, friends are barred at the door.

The kitchen table is my desk. I live in a house full of generous musicians and one dancing cat. On a writing binge I wake up at dawn and, so as not to disturb anyone, I'll sit in the dark and type, unwashed and wild-eyed for hours. The tools are a minimum: laptop, the dictionary/thesaurus combo, recent journals of scribbles, hot tea with cream, utter silence, and at least one marijuana doobie. The writing comes until hunger forces me to stop, or I'm driven from the kitchen like a feral child.

There have been points in my life when I've lived alone, had a desk and my own computer, a printer, shelves of books around me. Other times it's just been me and my journal. It would be lovely to have an entire room for writing. But all you really need is a pencil.

Teresa McWhirter attended the University of Victoria, receiving a BA with a double major in English and Creative Writing. Upon graduating, she taught English in Korea, spent time in Thailand and Costa Rica, and traveled extensively throughout Canada and the US. Her first novel, Some Girls Do, was published by Raincoast in 2002. Her latest, Dirtbags, was published in 2007 by Anvil Press.