Regardless of who came up with this saying, I like to apply it to the subject of writing, as it also speaks of ambiance, "the character and atmosphere of a place." Thesaurus.com. Ambiance can make or break a poem for me.
In my teens, I would walk three steep miles to the beach, at three am, to sit on a favorite rock and write, because the night air and the waves fed my muse. That undisturbed setting easily pushed aside the doors to my imagination.
I often missed that beach, that rock, those waves, and especially so when I'm trying to concentrate on writing a poem amid the day to day distractions and occasional interruptions that are common to a non-reclusive lifestyle.
I know a few writers who have found their preferred ambiance in music, and others who will shut themselves up in a quiet room. I opted to adopt the semi-catatonic state, focusing inward to the exclusion of all external stimuli.
There is a great deal to be said about writing in a cozy cafe, provided that you don't mind the clinking of cups, the coffee grinder, the chatter of other patrons ... and that the servers don't often disturb you with, "More coffee?"
As I've noted before, I love writing in cafes and coffee shops, especially those which stay open late into the evening, but I've had to leave them when they fired up their open mics. Open mics are great ... if you're not trying to write.
Some writers prefer to work in the comfort of their own home, which is great, unless myriad household chores are calling for their attention, or their computer is situated in the cross hairs of a busy, shared family room.
I've been in search of the perfect ambiance for decades now, and when I have found it, it proved to be only temporary. Alas, where I live now there are no local opportunities to sit and sip and write without driving miles and miles.
But, last Summer, we went shopping for a new home. We found one that is surrounded by trees, is near the beach, and has a lovely, soft yellow, multi-windowed sunroom which looks out on a forest ... and, it was affordable!
It's taken me years to finally find the unimpeded ambiance that works for me: this large corner of a comfy room, where interruptions call to me only distantly. For this poet, it really is all about, "location, location, location."
Image: Emily Thompson