Positive and Negative Spaces

By Toni McGee Causey

When I first went to college, my major was Architecture. (I had not yet realized that I could actually be a writer as an official occupation.) I couldn’t wait to take architecture courses and I perused the curriculum in the student’s catalog and read through the course descriptions with a lust that most kids that age reserved for hot cars or cold beer. (The caveat—I already had a hot car—a 1968 cherry red Mustang,



and I had access to plenty of cold beer.) (Hi Dad. I totally did not drink until I was officially 18, the legal age of drinking, because I was a very very good kid who did everything her dad told her.) (You cannot ground me retroactively, don’t even try.)

Anyway, I wanted to be an architect, and I imagined all the sorts of buildings I would design. I endured the first semester of boring classes and looked forward to being able to take Engineering Design, the very first freshman level course that was one of the official architecture courses.

(Frank Lloyd Wright — Falling Water)

(Craftsman style house)

Turns out? They expect architects to use math much more sophisticated than simple addition and subtraction to formulate all of those pesky things like load bearing walls that will hold the building up.

It is apparently not kosher to make wild-ass guesses, which is how I would frequently solve math problems, and they heavily frowned on the eeny-meeny-miny-moe method. Ironically, I had placed out of every math requirement, including calculus—I had this uncanny ability to guess the right answers on tests, and yet, my professors, picky bastards, would not go with the percentage route that I was going to be correct a good solid 80 to 90% of the time. 10% to 20% of the buildings falling down would be bad.

It was a very short career.

In spite of that, I’ve remained fascinated with architecture over the years, as well as interior design. I pore over magazines and web sites, absorbing new trends. I have dozens of coffee table books with photos of spaces—old plantations, castles, bungalows along an Italian coastline, the white cities of Greece.

Recently, Janet Reid recommended a little book titled: 101 Things I Learned in Architecture School by Matthew Frederick. I love this little book. Since I didn’t even get past “2 things I learned…” in my own career, it was like having a crash course in all of the cool terms I’d wanted to study, but hadn’t. Some of these things I had picked up in my journeys, but it’s nice to see them laid out so simply. What I expected when I bought the book: to learn a few more terms, satiate that longing to design by at least sidling up to it and conversing with it a bit.

What I had not expected when I bought it is to see an entire book that has as much to do with writing and living as it does architecture. And I hadn’t expected to have a startling revelation about my own life.

Now, to be fair to Mr. Frederick, he did not design the book with the latter in mind—it’s something I simply “saw” in the book. Which is a bit ironic, since the revelation occurred over the architectural term “positive and negative space.”

Mr. Frederick defines these terms thusly:

“We move through negative spaces and dwell in positive spaces.”

It’s a simple concept.

When I thought about this in relation to writing, I had a twofold appreciation for the term. First off, just the physical aspect of the page—the words and paragraphs create positive space and the white space around it is the negative space. If you pick up any manuscript and it’s filled with long, dense paragraph after paragraph, it feels cluttered and heavy, weighted and overwrought, even before you’ve read a single word. A reader brings with her the expectation of balance, and you need white space to achieve that balance. Too much white space, though, feels bereft of weight, of value, of deeper meaning, and so it’s the writer’s job not only to craft the words, but to pay attention to the space those words take up on the page.

Simple enough, right?

The other meaning when applied to writing is the creation of the worlds we hope to evoke. Mr. Frederick goes on to explain:

“The shapes and qualities of architectural spaces greatly influence human experience and behavior, for we inhabit the spaces of our built environment and not the solid walls, roofs, and columns that shape it. Positive spaces are almost always preferred by people for lingering and social interaction. Negative spaces tend to promote movement rather than dwelling in place.”

(a place to dwell–a positive place)

(An example of a city street–a corridor–a negative space.)

Again, simple.

In writing a book, we’re attempting to create a world. We want to do such a fine job, that the readers feel as if they’ve inhabited that world and that they’ve met the people who live there, and know them well.

One time, a long time ago, my husband and I were house shopping. In the course of a random conversation with a man we’d met, he mentioned that he and his wife were about to put their house up for sale. When he described the location, it piqued our interest, because it was very close to where we’d been previously looking, and this house happened to be on a small lake with a decent view. It was the exact size we were looking for and, miracle of miracles, it was in our price range. We made an appointment to go view the home and double-checked with the owner prior to arriving to make sure the time was still convenient, since, obviously, they were still living in the home and it wasn’t yet listed.

We wound through the neighborhood of unique homes and arrived at his address to see a beautiful Craftsman styled house set against big oaks and a few pine trees. The landscaping was impeccable—and lush. They’d eschewed the boxy, regimented style of an English garden look and had, instead, created a free-flowing design that invited you to move through a winding walkway through a wonderland of color until you reached the front door. We had a hard time keeping our mouths from gaping open with awe and lust. I didn’t want them to add another $20K just from the look on our faces.

(similar to this)

Crossing through the threshold, however, was a shock. Though the home was beautifully designed, you couldn’t tell it for the clutter. Now, I have two sons and a husband, all of whom could easily be celebrated on the poster for “Packrats Unlimited,” so I’m not unfamiliar with the challenges of digging out from under the constant influx of junk. But this? This house was piled with detritus beyond my wildest imagination. Every level surface had piles and piles of paperwork. In the dining room, the table (which could have seated eight) had a pile so high, that the chandelier above it (and these were ten foot ceilings) was actually skewed at an angle, resting on the top of the pile. Every countertop, every sink, toilet, bed, side table: junk. We couldn’t enter the spare bedroom, though they opened the door to show us the room; there was junk piled from floor to ceiling, spanning the entire room. It looked as if someone had routinely just opened the door and tossed items in, for years.

(And waaaaaay worse than this…) 

When we left there, my husband wondered if they were moving because they wanted a bigger house. I predicted that they weren’t going to even get the house officially listed and that within a year, they’d be divorced and battling over the house in a lawsuit. It didn’t surprise me in the least to see it for sale a year later with an “Owner recently divorced, highly motivated” notation on the listing.

They had not created for themselves a positive space to dwell; instead, they’d created a negative space that they could only move through. Disconnected, they became apathetic to their needs—each others’ and their own—and the family dissolved.

I’ve had people hand me novels in the past for critique and they spend a couple of chapters (or more) “building the world” – telling the reading about the political and economic machinations which have brought this world into being, into the state we find it in at this moment in time. It’s a huge mistake to do this. For one thing, the story hasn’t started yet until the characters are moving through that world and experience conflict within it. For another, the writer isn’t trusting the reader to extrapolate the positive and negative spaces from a select few examples.

If you look at the paragraph above describing the clutter, I’d be willing to bet you mentally filled in those rooms, though I didn’t describe a single stick of furniture, or the style of the interior. You filled every nook and cranny with junk in your image, though I didn’t get very specific about the junk. What’s more, if you thought about the couple, I’d be willing to be you saw them both in rather rumpled, dragged from the laundry basket wrinkled clothes, though I never described them.

We don’t have to give pages and pages of details—we just need to give a select few that show not only the space the characters are in, but how they’re interacting with that space. Some of our own choices are determined by economics which can be beyond our control, but some of the choices we make in our surroundings communicate who we are and what we think of ourselves. Same with our characters and their worlds: how do they dwell? What do they move through? Why? What does their surroundings say about them? What does yours say about you?

While I was thinking about this application of the architectural terms of negative and positive space, and simultaneously reading JT’s blog about the clutter of the online media and the expectations of what we have to do to create a writing career and maintain it, along with marketing it, I had an abrupt-but-fine appreciation for the connotations of positive and negative spaces and how they impact our lives. With regard to the social media/marketing aspect, I think the online world—particularly Twitter and Facebook—create the illusion of positive space, a space to dwell. Only, there is no “space” there, there is no permanent peace or interaction with tangible walls and windows, living areas and social areas. It’s all hallways and moving, traffic and business with the veneer of being social, and at its most fundamental sociological construct, it’s in disharmony with our need to dwell, because in social media, we’re always moving through. Targeting something—more interaction, more movement, more recognition, more awareness (both of each other, of marketing needs and trends, of products, not necessarily just of our own products).

It makes sense, then, that these sorts of venues create a sense of discord over time. I think it’s ironic, but I think that while it gives the illusion of greater intimacy and friendship, it also emphasizes the disconnect we have in our lives because we’re not interacting with a space or with a person, but with a computer screen. I enjoy Twitter, and, tangentially, Facebook, but I have felt far less stress in this last month since I have cut back my interaction at both places to just a few minutes a day.

Aside from that, though, is another fundamental truth of space, and it’s the fact that we build our environment. We choose where we’re going to dwell (or, at least, what we surround ourselves with in our dwelling place). The epiphany I had when reading Mr. Frederick’s book was that the positive and negative spaces were a part of our philosophy of life, not just our physicality in life. (I know this is not a new concept. It just opened up something for me.)

I’ve always been the type of person who was an overachiever. I’d accomplish something, check it off as done and move on to the next thing. It felt lazy, almost, to just… be. To be in a place and time without some sort of pressing item that needed to be achieved next. The problem with this was that I was dwelling in the corridors of my life. If something was done, it was over and I passed on through to the next challenge, and there was no space to just enjoy.

In the world of publishing, there is always the next hurdle. Always.

As soon as you finish a book, you have to try to get an agent. As soon as you get an agent, you have to try to sell it. As soon as you sell it, you have to start worrying about what changes they’re going to want and whether you can deliver that. As soon as you deliver that, there are marketing decisions that are made (often without your input) and marketing decisions you make (which increases the pressure), because now there is a goal: sell the books. While all of this is going on, you’re trying to either write the next book on a contract (and you are worrying whether or not you can hit the bar you’ve set for yourself again, whether you even remember how to write a book, and why on earth did you think you could do it again?) or you’re trying your dead level best to convince someone that yes, you can write another one and here it is, or here is the proposal. As soon as your first book goes on sale, all sorts of goals will crop up—will it do well enough, will it further your career, will it die a stone cold death and stop your career. If the former, the bar is set higher. If the latter, that’s a whole set of other problems / goals / fears. People will tell you to stop and enjoy the moment, but you’re generally so frantic to accomplish all of the stuff you need to accomplish in the short window that your book will be on the shelf that by the time you think you have time to stop and enjoy it, it’s long past gone and is probably buried under the last three goals you were striving for.

It is very difficult to just “be” and dwell.

But positive space—not just positive thinking, but positive space—is as necessary to our mental health and our survival as that negative space—that moving, ever onward. We need the connections around us, the grounding in the here and now, the raft of joy in the midst of a chaotic world, to replenish the soul and the well of creativity. You can go a lot of years without doing this, and still function. I can attest to that. But you’ll be missing so much.

So beyond just the writing applications of space and how it’s relevant to character development, my own personal philosophy has shifted in priorities: take the time to enjoy the people around you. Take the time to look at the things you have done and enjoy them. Dwell. Be. Replenish. The world and the race will still be there when you’re ready to re-join. There is no one final race anyway, but millions of races. If you don’t join this day’s race, you can join tomorrow’s.


What is one thing you’d change about your physical environment that would make it a more pleasant place to dwell? Does your environment reflect the real you? If not, why not? 

55 thoughts on “Positive and Negative Spaces

  1. CJ Lyons

    Great post, Toni! With my last house and now that I’ve downsized, with my new place as well, I’ve taken the attitude that they are places to live….an active verb, not the passive concept of places people visit, or trying to maintain them as places to be seen by others. So everywhere I look in my living room (great name for it!), I find inspiration in the art and photos and even the furniture.

    My "den" (other great name!) not so much–it was the room only used for TV and storage–piles of research, books, books, books, paper and files and stuff everywhere….until yesterday. Even before reading your post I felt the discontent this "negative" space created in my otherwise harmonious home and actually, egad!, bought real furniture for it instead of the plastic milk crates and other college dorm remnants.

    I love the new, fresh-wood-smelling, pine six drawer file cabinet and credenza that now store all my research and files and stuff and the room now feels less like a bear-hibernating den and more like a study, a positive place I can relax and absorb and learn.

    You’re so right–making a change from the temporary-just passing thru-negative space to a positive-sit and live awhile-home is a wonderful thing to experience!

  2. JD Rhoades

    After years of saying I don’t need it, I now find myself craving a room of my own to write in. I’m starting to feel like there’s not enough room for me in my own house.

  3. Alli

    Toni, what an amazing post. Very inspirational adn heartwarming. Thank you.

    My space will be changing over the next few months. In relation to my current writing space, I have one place where I write (at my desk ) and edit on a sofa in my favourite sunny corner of the house. Unfortunately the desk is in the dining room and right amongst the chaos of the living room and kitchen – with kids toys everywhere. It’s hard to quiet the noise of the clutter (the mess, not the kids) when I’m trying to write. My space has to be neat or else my brain won’t concentrate.

    We are moving back to Australia next year and in the new house I will have my own office – a lovely space to put a big desk, my travel memorabilia and photos (I set my books in far flung places I’ve travelled to) and it will be my "cave" to dwell when time allows. I’m hoping this space will give me more inspiration.

  4. billie

    Loved this post, Toni.

    One of my favorite books is the 2-volume set, A Pattern Language, by Christopher Alexander. It’s another of those books that seems to be about one thing but is really about everything.

    I’m one of those people who love my space, and I change it around regularly. I’ve always tended to use our houses the way they fit US, not the way they were necessarily built to be used. For years when the kids were little we used the master bedroom in that house as a big play room, and used the two smaller bedrooms for sleeping – those two rooms faced one another through a tiny hallway, so it was perfect when they were young.

    The one change I would make, if I could figure out how to do it w/o spending a small fortune, is to connect my house to my barn and make a sort of ‘common" area for horses and people to hang out together.

    My writing space shifts with my mood and needs. For awhile I used my garret upstairs b/c I really craved privacy. Then I shifted down into the middle of the kitchen/living room. Now I’m in my bedroom, with my desk situated so I can see the horses. Periodically I take myself to the front porch and work there.

    I think we can get too static in our spaces – it’s good sometimes to move things around and arrange ourselves in new ways in the space.

    Everyone always says my house looks just like me – and it does feel that way to me.

  5. Angelle

    A really beautiful post, Toni! I’ve developed a fascination with the A&E show Hoarders – it gives me a sense of gratitude, a "there but for the grace of God go I" shudder. Thank heavens the Songwriter is tidy – he counterbalances my piling tendencies.

    We downsized from a 3 bedroom turn-of-the-century home in the Midwest to a modern 1 bedroom condo in Los Angeles, and while the purge was painful, when I look around the open spaces and clean lines of the new place, I sense how they open me up and lighten my load.

    In the old house, I had a writing room. I was so excited. And after a few years, I never used it. It was a tiny room in a far corner, with one window that looked onto the neighbor’s siding. Instead I commandeered a chair in the den and put stacking trays on the side table and declared it my new office.

    I struggled for a while here, looking for that space that I could use just for writing, a physical space that would tell my brain "And now we get to work." It turned out to be the far end of the couch. When I’m lounging on the near-end, that’s TV watching, newspaper reading play time. But when I move down to the far end, that means the laptop opens and I get busy.

    I wish I could use our balcony more. It overlooks the parking lot, but beyond that is the lovely verdant backside of the Hollywood Hills. The problem is that it’s west-facing, and makes my laptop impossible to read after 11 a.m. and is scorched by the setting sun after 3. Oh well, it’s still beautiful at night for a post-writing cocktail!

  6. Kaye Barley

    Toni – I’m loving this post. On a beezillion different levels.

    Having moved into this little house from a much larger house 12 years ago, I found myself constantly moving things to make them fit. Things I thought I loved. But bingo – it dawned on me I didn’t really love them so much after all. I DID love them – in a space where they worked. They just weren’t working here. It’s a long long way from Atlanta, GA to Boone, NC, perhaps not in miles, but emotionally and philosophically – a very long way. Atlanta just wasn’t going to readjust and shrink itself to fit inside Boone. Not physically. Not metaphorically.

    I’m left now with one final puzzle. Do I really want to get rid of a guest room and turn it into a library, or do I really want to live with shelves full of books in every room. The pragmatist in my head says to rid the rooms of the books, ie clutter. My heart says "live with what you love."

  7. Louise Ure

    Kaye, I think your guests would love to stay in a library!

    Great post, Toni. One tiny, tiny example from me: I recently cleaned and organized the linen closet, throwing out sheet sets from 30 years ago that held more sentimentality than threadcount, and folding the towels in thirds, just like Martha Steward recommends. I’m stunned at the difference in how I feel. Sometimes I just open the door and gaze in, centering myself against the other chaos around me.

  8. BCB

    Hmmm. Sounds like you just gave me permission to delete the blog and the twitter account and instead dwell in that comfortable place where I can indulge my timid introverted true self and never venture forth… or maybe what you said is to find a balance. Wise and thoughtful advice.

    Very recently I took steps that resulted in me being sole owner of the place I live. Well, along with the bank. This is a first for me and it hasn’t really sunk in yet. But over the past month I’ve been thinking similar thoughts about this physical space. You’ve helped clarify the vague feeling that there are negative spaces that have nothing to do with the "bones" of the rooms and everything to do with untapped potential use. And clutter. I love the idea of having a library or a place solely dedicated to writing and all the trappings thereof. As you said: "The raft of joy in the midst of a chaotic world, to replenish the soul and the well of creativity." I’m thinking the formal living room really doesn’t get much use as is. And for the first time ever, it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks about how I choose to use my space.

    Off topic: I attended the all-day workshop yesterday at which Alex and JD taught and both of them did a great job — they were informative and charming and generous with their time and knowledge. As were the other presenters. It was nice to finally meet JD and also Jake Nantz and have the chance to chat a bit with the "real" people behind the internet presence. Time well spent, both in terms of learning craft from the masters and connecting with other writers.

  9. JT Ellison

    LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this post. You’ve put into words an indefinable feeling I’ve been having, and it all coalesced when I read this. I don’t write in my office. I write and live in the same space. That’s why I can’t ever turn off. (Well, duh.) I used to be, my office was the only place with Internet, so when I was in there, I knew I was working on business stuff, and when I wasn’t, I was creating. The lines have blurred completely now. So.

    We’re flipping our guest room and our office next month. I will design that room to be more comfortable for me to work in. I will live in my living space and write in my writing space. Balance will be restored to the world.

    Thanks, Toni. Sometimes it really does take a village.

  10. Jeff Abbott

    This is one of the best posts ever on this blog. I built a studio above our garage for my writing, and am so glad that I did. It can be as quiet as I want or as noisy as I want. And since I have to walk out of the house and up a flight of stairs, I am very conscious of "going to work".

  11. Paula R.

    Toni, you always have thought provoking posts. They always require a lot of thought. I think that one thing I have done differently with the space I live in is to let the light in more. I allowed myself to let go of things more and just live. I try to enjoy each moment, since none are promised. Now I want to read this little architecture book. You know, I had a similar epiphany when I read the book "The Courage to Write" by Ralph Keyes. It was talking about so much more than writing. Thanks for such and insightful view of architecture in relation to live and writing. have a wonderful Sunday everyone!

    Peace and love,
    Paula R.

  12. Derek Nikitas

    Wonderful essay, Toni. I’m always fascinated by how lessons in vastly different arts and crafts can inform each other, and you’ve certainly found that with architecture. In How Fiction Works, James Wood has a great bit on symphonic structure and switches in time signature, how it has its analogue in novel structuring, pacing, and fluctuations in amount of detail (sort of like this idea of positive and negative spaces).

    I also love your idea of clutter and how it can lead to a certain kind of negative space–too much character detail at the beginning of a novel, etc. But I’m also seeing an analogy that’s perhaps a bit contrary to yours. A piece of architecture would have both positive and negative spaces–places to get through quickly, like hallways, and places to live in.

    I’d actually argue that the writing analogy here is something like this: modulate your novel with positive and negative spaces, the negative spaces being those "hallways" in the story that don’t have any openness or decor; they’re just there to get the reader from one plot point to the next (momentum/suspense). The positive spaces are those more expansive, quieter moments in the novel where we explore character more deeply, spend some time with the landscape, etc.

    Like a good house isn’t just hallways, a good novel isn’t just momentum. Nor is it all one big ponderous room with no passageways. It’s movement from one dwelling place to the next. After all, the purpose of momentum/suspense is to get us to turn the page, but turn the page to what? The end of the book? That’s sort of like saying, "I’m loving this experience, so let’s hurry up and get it over with." Good suspense is like good hallways; it shuttles us between rooms where we actually want to hang out for a while.

  13. Derek Nikitas

    So it turns out in architecture, negative space doesn’t mean what I assumed it meant. Apparently, it’s just a bad thing, and you don’t want it. Nonetheless, houses DO have nonliving spaces were only movement occurs (hallways, staircases, doorways, etc.), so I hope I still said something coherent about momentum and dwelling in fiction.

  14. toni mcgee causey

    Derek, actually, I liked your analogy and was thinking along the same path. (That essay was getting so long, I had to stop somewhere!) I think the notion of dwelling spaces vs. movement toward something else is useful for balance in fiction as well as architecture. It may not be negative space per se (hallways, corridors), but your construct works.

    Thanks to everyone for a great discussion–I loved your examples. I ended up unexpectedly away from the computer today.

    Kaye–I am in the process of remodeling a front library/office to utilize that space as a bedroom, too. I plan to keep the shelving and create a really warm, welcoming space for guests. Funny how alike we think.

    CJ, I’m glad you were able to see an old space in a new way. I think that’s one of the best lessons we can have, whether it’s where we live or in our fiction–that sometimes we simply have to change our own perspective to see the greater potential.

    Dusty & Alli, I did the same thing about a year ago. The place where I’d been writing was larger, but it was also in the traffic pattern of the family. I switched to the smallest room of the house, and love it. I can close the door and focus, and leave it behind when I need to.

    Billie, you now have me looking for those books. I know if you enjoyed them, I want to see them, too. And I love how adaptive you are in where you work. That says a lot of good things about you as a psychologist. 😉

    Louise, I am cracking up, because that is exactly how my sense of discovery over this last few months started: I re-vamped a closet. Just one. And the organization was inspiring.

    BCB, congratulations on being the new sole owner! And thank you–I am flattered if anything in there helped. My former "formal dining room" is now the library-soon-to-be-guest area. I’ll eventually post photos, though I have to do some re-flooring in there before I go too much farther.

    JT, thank you! I’m so glad that anything I said there was of any help. I’d been mulling this one for a couple of days, thanks to your great post on Friday. And yay! Congrats on finding a solution that will work for you.

    Jeff, thank you so much! I love the idea of a separate studio space–that is something we’re considering for the future. It sounds wonderful.

    Paula, thanks so much. Letting go of things was probably one of my most difficult lessons. I kept holding on to odd bits and pieces because it felt somehow like a betrayal of the event and its importance if I didn’t keep the physical evidence. But seeing the clutter take over my life and squeeze out the feeling of peace wasn’t working either, and wasn’t conducive to creating new memories. Sometimes, if it’s a bunch of similar stuff, I’ll photograph the batch, keep one as an example and toss (or recycle) the rest. Having the photos helps assuage the guilt. 😉

  15. toni mcgee causey

    Angelle, oops, meant to include this above… it looks to me though that you’ve found your space. That’s what’s most important–to design our spaces for how we want to live, not to try to contort ourselves to fit anyone else’s preconceived notion of space. I envy you the ability to switch from one mode to the other simply by moving a few feet! I would *love* that talent. 😉

  16. Jessica Scott

    Your post made me clean my desk off (this is more signifcant than you may think. My space accurately reflects me, in that it’s cluttered and chaotic but I always know where things are. I wishi I were more organized but I’ve simply accepted the fact that its just not possible. Or rather, it takes too much energy to maintain it.
    I had an aha moment when you said you had trouble just being. I struggle with that and to be honest, the first time I was EVER in my life content to just sit and be was when I was home on R&R. I didn’t check my email (okay once a day) I didn’t write. I simply enjoyed every possible moment with my daughters before I returned to Iraq to finish my deployment. I was a being thing for me and I don’t think even my husband understands how much of an accomplishment that was for me.
    Your comments about positive and negative spaces really impacted me a lot. My space is definitly good for me but no one else, to include my husband. It’s a big accomplishment that I’ve managed to keep our bedroom clean over the years. I take my victories where I can:)
    Thanks for a great, thought provoking post and more importantly, a clean desk!

  17. Allison Brennan

    Amazing post, Toni.

    I wrote for years at Starbucks because I couldn’t write at home–I didn’t have my own space, my computer was in the living room, and the family was all around. Some people could do it–but I was distracted and my priorities split.

    Now I have my own office, detached, and my own desk, my own computer, and my own SPACE.

    I think what I would change? My desk itself–it doesn’t feel like me. I don’t know how else to describe it. I took the Stephen King advice to have a small desk, but I think this is too small for me. And I would probably paint the walls a different color–their sort of a beige now, nice for the house, but I want color. And that’s easy to do. And the other thing . . . I need to put pictures up. I just haven’t gotten around to it. It took me about 6 months to start writing here regularly, but now I prefer it to all other places.

  18. Gabi

    Wonderful post Toni!

    As a designer by training, I have often been fascinated with how the spatial concepts of design can apply to my writing. Lately, my thinking has revolved around positive and negative space, though not in the literal sense (like the space on the page or the space I inhabit). Rather, I’ve been thinking about how positive and negative space fits conceptually with the stories I try to tell in my writing.

    The beauty of negative space is that you can only see it in the context of the surrounding objects. Otherwise it’s just space, air, nothing. But when you start to fill in the positive spaces around it, suddenly what’s in the negative space becomes visible. (It’s like the hidden arrow in the FedEx logo… once you figure out it’s there, it becomes so obvious, you wonder how you never saw it before.)

    Lately, I’ve been thinking about how information and details placed in a story fit with the information and details I choose not to include. It’s like what you were saying about the description of that messy house, where the readers can fill in the gaps in our minds.

    Also, it’s important to remember that what might look like positive space for one object, may actually become negative space if you look at the object behind it or around it. For instance, in the picture of the garden, the plant in the foreground might be positive space if you’re focusing on the plant, but when you focus on the stone tile and dirt around the plant, then the plant becomes becomes the negative space. In this way, an element or detail that might constitute positive space in one part of a written work, may actually be negative space in another part of the work. Louis Sachar’s novel Holes is a great example of this, where the different narratives fill in gaps in the other story lines.

    Thanks again for a great post!

  19. Alissa

    Thought-provoking post. Since I have temporarily moved back into my parents’ house there are a whole lot of things I would change about my living space, but the biggest (and this is true for where I used to live as well) is the area immediately outside the home. It’s a townhouse community, and while I don’t have a problem with neighbors I don’t need them right on top of me. I don’t really want to hear their cell phone conversations when they are smoking a cigarette in their driveway. So, for me it would be having a little bit more space outside the walls of the house to breathe in and have a little bit of a barrier between me and the rest of the world.

  20. Liz Falkner

    I will change my filing method in my office. My current method is "when I have time to get to it" which of course, translates into never. I purchased decorating fabric to make a cabana-like covering for my bookcases which I may as well work on now that the weather is turning cooler.

    As far as my writing, I have found myself wondering if I don’t set the scene right away, the reader won’t care. But in every book I consider a keeper, it was the character I connected with first not the setting. Your post has definitely reinforced this fact for me.

  21. Liesl

    Wonderful post. So insightful!

    I have found that my computer can be a negative space as far as my writing goes. There is too much distraction, too much to move through. While I’m writing it’s too easy for me to click on my email or FB. So I’ve started writing things long-hand. It may seem like a waste of time but I’ve found that a clean paper page, with no little buttons or flashing signals to distract me keeps me focused and I get a lot more out of my limited writing time. It’s also easy to do some revisions when I get it on the computer. My brown leather book from Italy is my positive space.

  22. Amy Sue Nathan

    I have created a positive space for my writing — amidst the chaos of a life with two teenagers and two dogs. I took myself out of the dining room, then out of the bedroom, then out of the family room, to a corner of a rarely used living room that happens to be the largest and prettiest room in the house. Even on days when school papers are strewn on tables, when football games blare and kids with friends trample through — there’s a space I can go to that sets me back and away. And it’s in full view. I think this space more aptly reflects who I am than the sometimes piled-with-dishes sink or the laundry waiting to be folded.

  23. homeopathie

    I read your post and it is really amazing and inspiration for all of us.I appreciate you.Thank you very much for sharing this with us.I also want to say that sometimes places may reflect the real you but we should be strong about this.

  24. Darynda Jones

    Hey Toni!

    Great post!!! I am in the midst of all the hurdles now and I am floored at how there is something new almost every day. I just sold a little over a month ago so it’s all very new. As for spaces, I find that if I can’t get in the groove for the day, I can clean my desk off or my entire office and that really seems to help. The last thing I need is chaos around me. There must be a balance.

    Thank you again. This was very inspirational!

  25. marta

    I came to this post because of a link at a friend’s blog. ( http://johnesimpson.com/blog/ )

    Wow. Not every day do I get to contemplate my physical space along with my writing. My family and I live in an apartment so I feel trapped in what I can do. Most of my friends have houses and I feel awkward inviting them into my space–which is cluttered but not insanely so. But I do think our space feels like home. Though we need to change our son’s room. He rarely lingers there.

    And I’m an unpublished writer, but I understand that push to the next step. I finish a book, I start another, another project, on and on…

    I enjoyed the post and the pictures. Thank you.

  26. Jenny Chapman (jayjaycee1 -Twitter)

    Wonderful, thoughtful post. Thank you. Amazingly synchronistic, too, as I have just completed a poem called White Space (in books). And creating more space in my home means more Living Space for my son and I, in every sense of the word.

  27. Carmela Martino

    Thanks for sharing–there’s lots to think about here! Unfortunately, I have more than one thing I’d like to do to change my home environment, but I guess the main one would be to clear out files of papers that I’ve saved that we no longer need.

  28. PotterDixie

    This is understandable that cash makes us disembarrass. But what to do when one does not have money? The one way is to try to get the loans or just consolidation loan.

  29. efox

    Hello!everyone!iphone is so expensive.so I like ciphone. I want to introduce efox-shop to you
    d^_^bIt is very interesting. .<a href="http://www.efox-shop.com/&quot; rel="nofollow"> Sciphones i68,ciphone c6,Ciphone,cecthandy,Sciphones ,cecthandys,hiphone,HIPHONE 4,pinphone 3gs </a>

  30. mens watches

    <a href="http://www.manelefree.net/&quot; title="replica swiss watches">replica swiss watches</a>
    <a href="http://http://www.manelefree.net replica swiss watches
    http://www.worldwide-watches.com replica watches
    http://www.watches-mens.com mens watches
    http://www.watches-mens.com/breitling-navitimer breitling navitimer
    http://www.watches-mens.com/rolex-datejust rolex datejust
    http://www.worldwide-watches.com/rolex-watches rolex watches
    http://www.worldwide-watches.com/bell-ross-watches bell ross watches
    http://www.worldwide-watches.com/ferrari-watches ferrari watches
    http://www.worldwide-watches.com/bvlgari-watches bvlgari watches
    http://www.worldwide-watches.com/rolex-datejust-watches Rolex DateJust
    http://www.worldwide-watches.com/burberry-watches Burberry watches
    http://www.worldwide-watches.com/breguet-watches Breguet watches
    http://www.worldwide-watches.com/chopard-watches-c-24 chopard watches
    http://www.worldwide-watches.com/hublot-watches hublot watches
    http://www.worldwide-watches.com/u-boat-watches U boat watches
    http://www.watches-mens.com/rolex-daytona rolex daytona
    http://www.watches-mens.com/iwc iwc watches
    http://www.watches-mens.com/panerai-luminor panerai luminor
    http://www.watches-mens.com/burberry burberry watcheswww.worldwide-watches.com" title="replica watches">replica watches</a>
    <a href="http://www.watches-mens.com&quot; title="mens watches">mens watches</a>
    <a href="http://www.watches-mens.com/breitling-navitimer&quot; title="breitling navitimer">breitling navitimer</a>
    <a href="http://www.watches-mens.com/rolex-datejust&quot; title="rolex datejust">rolex datejust</a>
    <a href="http://www.worldwide-watches.com/bvlgari-watches&quot; title="bvlgari watches">bvlgari watches</a>
    <a href="http://www.worldwide-watches.com/rolex-datejust-watches&quot; title="Rolex DateJust">Rolex DateJust</a>
    <a href="http://www.worldwide-watches.com/tag-heuer-watches&quot; title="Tag Heuer watches">Tag Heuer watches</a>
    <a href="http://www.worldwide-watches.com/rolex-watches&quot; title="rolex watches">rolex watches</a>
    <a href="http://www.worldwide-watches.com/bell-ross-watches&quot; title="bell ross watches">bell ross watches</a>
    <a href="http://www.worldwide-watches.com/ferrari-watches&quot; title="ferrari watches">ferrari watches</a>
    <a href="http://www.worldwide-watches.com/burberry-watches&quot; title="Burberry watches">Burberry watches</a>
    <a href="http://www.watches-mens.com/rolex-submariner&quot; title="rolex submariner">rolex submariner</a>
    <a href="http://www.watches-mens.com/rolex-daytona&quot; title="rolex daytona">rolex daytona</a>
    <a href="http://www.watches-mens.com/iwc&quot; title="iwc watches">iwc watches</a>
    <a href="http://www.watches-mens.com/panerai-luminor&quot; title="panerai luminor">panerai luminor</a>
    <a href="http://www.watches-mens.com/burberry&quot; title="burberry watches">burberry watches</a><a">

  31. mens watches

    http://www.manelefree.net replica swiss watches
    http://www.worldwide-watches.com replica watches
    http://www.watches-mens.com mens watches
    http://www.watches-mens.com/breitling-navitimer breitling navitimer
    http://www.watches-mens.com/rolex-datejust rolex datejust
    http://www.worldwide-watches.com/rolex-watches rolex watches
    http://www.worldwide-watches.com/bell-ross-watches bell ross watches
    http://www.worldwide-watches.com/ferrari-watches ferrari watches
    http://www.worldwide-watches.com/bvlgari-watches bvlgari watches
    http://www.worldwide-watches.com/rolex-datejust-watches Rolex DateJust
    http://www.worldwide-watches.com/burberry-watches Burberry watches
    http://www.worldwide-watches.com/breguet-watches Breguet watches
    http://www.worldwide-watches.com/chopard-watches-c-24 chopard watches
    http://www.worldwide-watches.com/hublot-watches hublot watches
    http://www.worldwide-watches.com/u-boat-watches U boat watches
    http://www.watches-mens.com/rolex-daytona rolex daytona
    http://www.watches-mens.com/iwc iwc watches
    http://www.watches-mens.com/panerai-luminor panerai luminor
    http://www.watches-mens.com/burberry burberry watches

  32. hk company formation

    I have found that my computer can be a negative space as far as my writing goes. There is too much distraction, too much to move through. While I'm writing it's too easy for me to click on my email or FB. So I've started writing things long-hand. It may seem like a waste of time but I've found that a clean paper page, with no little buttons or flashing signals to distract me keeps me focused and I get a lot more out of my limited writing time. It's also easy to do some revisions when I get it on the computer. My brown leather book from Italy is my positive space.

  33. hk company formation

    I have found that my computer can be a negative space as far as my writing goes. There is too much distraction, too much to move through. While I'm writing it's too easy for me to click on my email or FB. So I've started writing things long-hand. It may seem like a waste of time but I've found that a clean paper page, with no little buttons or flashing signals to distract me keeps me focused and I get a lot more out of my limited writing time. It's also easy to do some revisions when I get it on the computer. My brown leather book from Italy is my positive space.


  34. new-arrivals


  35. gold-cufflinks


  36. Coach Spotlight Bags


  37. Coach Tote Bags


  38. wholesale laptop battery

    http://www.laptopbattery-wholesale.com/products/wholesale-dell-312-0633-7800mah-black.htm dell 312-0633 battery
    http://www.laptopbattery-wholesale.com/products/wholesale-dell-312-0634-7800mah-black.htm dell 312-0634 battery

    whether parallel importsthe Ring http://www.90-x.com/ p90x Road, Hangzhou, West of the product is

    http://www.laptopbattery-wholesale.com/products/wholesale-dell-312-0653-7800mah-black-grey.htm dell 312-0653 battery
    http://www.laptopbattery-wholesale.com/products/wholesale-dell-312-0660-laptop-battery-4400mah-black.htm dell 312-0660

    battery a very importantWest Lake Science http://www.p90xeveryone.com/ p90x and Technology Economic basis for parallel

    imports http://www.laptopbattery-wholesale.com/products/wholesale-dell-312-0662-battery-5200mah-black.htm dell 312-0662

    http://www.laptopbattery-wholesale.com/products/wholesale-dell-312-0663-battery-5200mah-black.htm dell 312-0663 battery

    from abroad toa park center http://www.powerbalanceontv.org/ power know that http://www.laptopbattery-

    wholesale.com/products/wholesale-dell-312-0724-laptop-battery-4400mah-black.htm dell 312-0724 battery
    http://www.laptopbattery-wholesale.com/products/wholesale-dell-312-0725-laptop-battery-4400mah-black.htm dell 312-0725

    battery is not in the country to enjoy the laptop http://www.laptopbattery-wholesale.com/products/wholesale-dell-312-

    0739-battery-7800mah-black.htm dell 312-0739 battery warranty. 2, see lock slot. If there is imprinting
    http://www.laptopbattery-wholesale.com/products/wholesale-dell-312-0763-7800mah-black.htm dell 312-0763 battery ,

    indicating thatthe car http://www.slendertonestore.org/ slendertone , there are over a hundred vehicles lithium batteries

    used came from here. http://www.quickencoupon.org/ quickbooks pro Sainz, founder Dong, is a bone-Gunpa in the battery

    industry for 20 http://www.turbotax2010coupon.org/ turbotax deluxe years over
    http://www.laptopbattery-wholesale.com/products/wholesale-dell-312-0844-7800mah-black.htm dell 312-0844 battery

    laptop lock plug, mosthttp://www.eccoshoesusa.org/ ecco shoes ? Singapore to rely on the first, the first time do not

    http://www.suprashoescheap.org/ supra shoes increase, then to Meizhe likely

  39. highheels

    I knew Paul for<a href="http://www.sunglassoakley.org"><strong&gt; sunglass oakley</strong></a> almost 30 years. We<a href="http://www.sales-christianlouboutin.com/"><strong&gt; sales christian louboutin</strong></a> met back in the very early 80s, through the magazine (joe soap's canoe) I was editing at the time. I think the canoe was the first place to publish him in the U.K. We then met in person on my first trip to the U.S. in 1983, and a friendship soon developed that I<a href="http://www.nikeairforcesone.com/"><strong&gt; nike air forces one</strong></a> valued more highly than I can say. Paul visited England on a number of occasions, sometimes for readings I organized, and for one especially memorable tour when he curated <a href="http://www.vibrams-5fingershoes.com/"><strong>vibrams 5 finger shoes </strong></a>an exhibition of Kenneth Koch's collaborations with artists at an art gallery in Ipswich. I was the town's local<a href="http://www.cl-highheels.com"&gt; high heels</a>

  40. sasha grey

    Given your comment about “1 Here There” suggesting that there isn’t use of negative space, I wondered if you missed the arrow in the logo, not unlike the one in the FedEx logo that you mention. As odd as the name is, I think 1 Here There has an brilliant logo, combining mirror imagery and the notion of a palindrome.

  41. belstaff

    Vampire, the blood sucking ghost, has both terrified and fascinated people at the same time. Scary tales including vampires are perfect to be told on the occasion of Halloween. You can simply enthrall children and glue them to their seats by narrating a gory vampire story. The story of a valiant vampire hunter will also interest young kids. Try to be animated while telling the story, in the dark, for the desired effect. You can invite your friends to join the listeners as well. It will make the story-telling more fun for you. Here, we have listed a scary vampire story, just for you!

  42. Air Jordan 1 Mens

    <p><a href="http://www.air-jordan1.net/">Nike Free for Men</a> and good damping effect. Basketball constantly starting, stop, <p><a href="http://www.air-jordan1.net/">Cheap Jordan Shoes</a> take off and quickly move around other activities to make your basketball <p><a href="http://www.air-jordan1.net/">Nike Air Max TN10</a> shoes in the selection of the characteristics of the shoes must <p><a href="http://www.air-jordan1.net/"&gt; Wholesale Air Jordan Shoes</a> be placed on the absolute top.<p><a href="http://www.air-jordan1.net/">Cheap Air Max Shoes</a> In addition, your personal style of play is also a very important factor, according to the choice they need different types of basketball shoes. Shoes into the life, the sudden change is part of the development SNEAKER

  43. Womens Ugg Boots

    <p><a href="http://www.womens-ugg-boots.org/">Womens Ugg Boots</a> 'Five per cent of ninety pounds is <p><a href="http://www.cheap-ugg-boot.net/">Cheap Ugg Boot</a> four pounds ten shillings,' <p><a href="http://www.cheap-ugg-boot.net/">Discount Ugg Boots</a> said Mr Levy cheerfully.<p><a href="http://www.womens-ugg-boots.org/">Discount Uggs Boots</a> 'You can pay now or on receipt of your first term's salary. <p><a href="http://www.womens-ugg-boots.org/"&gt; Ugg Outlet</a> If you pay now there is a reduction of 15 per cent.<p><a href="http://www.womens-ugg-boots.org/">Cheap Uggs Boots On Sale</a> That would be three pounds six shillings and sixpence.''I'll pay you when I get my wages,' <p><a href="http://www.cheap-ugg-boot.net/"&gt; Womens Winter Boots</a> said Paul.'Just as you please,' <p><a href="http://www.cheap-ugg-boot.net/">Sheepskin Boots On Sale</a> said Mr Levy. 'Only too <p><a href="http://www.brand-dress.com/">Brand Dress</a> glad to have been of use to you.'

  44. cheap jerseys

    http://www.classicsportsjerseys.com/ (cheap jerseys)
    http://www.fansportsjerseys.com/ (nfl jerseys cheap)
    http://www.gucciclothing.us/ (gucci clothing cheap)
    http://www.cheapjerseyswholesale.com (cheap jerseys nfl)
    http://www.cheapmonclerjacketsell.com/ (Cheap moncler jackets)
    http://www.topnfljerseyss.us/ (nfl jerseys cheap)
    http://www.nfljerseysoutlets.us/nfl-jerseys-c-1.html (Cheap NFL Jerseys)
    http://www.cheapjerseysoutlets.com/nfl-jerseys-c-1.html (Cheap NFL Jerseys)
    http://www.realnbajerseys.com/nba-jerseys-c-4.html (Cheap NBA Jerseys)
    http://www.facebook.com/topnflnhlus (cheap jerseys)
    http://www.cheapbagshops.com/ (cheap gucci bags)

  45. Vibram Five Fingers

    Vibram Five Fingers barefoot shoes uniquely designed to run in 2007. In the study of the structure of the human foot, Five Finger Shoes boots proved to human health. First Vibram Five Fingers, people will be surprised to find how much they love toes like stocks. Really, Vibram Shoes to move the stock, in addition to normal shoes, the idea running shoes.

  46. cheap oakley sunglasses

    Goblin wakened me. He returned my amulets. "We're going to play hide-and-seek," he said. "We'll give you a head start. oakley oil rig glasses If we've done everything right, we won't be able to find you."

Comments are closed.