Guest Blog, Writing Spaces

Van Life as a Writer

by Feri Tyler

My ability to sit down at a desk to write is a bit laughable. My preferred way of “sitting” is well…laying down. Yes, I am one of those gays, *insert eye roll and lopsided smirk. You know, the gay that couldn’t sit correctly even if I had on concrete pants. 

“Yes, I am one of those gays…”

I have fond memories of the many beds that I’ve slept in over my lifetime. I talk about them so lovingly that it’s a running joke in my family. I’ve only recently started having a normal relationship with my bed, one where I get up in the morning and don’t return until it’s time to go to sleep – you know like regular people. Honestly, the only thing I love more than my marriage is a welcoming, comfortable bed and maybe my kids, I love them a bunch too.

My bed has always been an important part of my life. I spent all of my teenage years laying in bed and staring out of my bedroom windows – think, if Ferdinand the Bull was a person. I didn’t change when I became an adult, only became more passionate about my love of bed. I basically raised my daughters from my bed. When I walked through the front door it was never too long before I was in my jammies and sliding between those sheets. My girls would come climb in next to me and tell me all about their day. I can’t imagine a different scenario where laying, propped up on fluffy pillows listening to middle school gossip hadn’t been a part of my day. Even now, as the grandmother of two beautiful brown boys, I just go to their house and lay down with them for naptime. 

“My bed has always been an important part of my life.”

A lot of my writing has taken place in my comfy cushion palaces. A large chunk of my novel Bubble: An Adult Tale, was written on a laptop while I lay in bed imagining all of the steamy details of my character’s love affair. What’s better for the imagination than lying in bed staring out of a window watching the sky morph and change? Oh yeah windows, those are just as important as the bed.

“…you discover who you truly are in life when you’re creating a micro home…”

When I met and married my wife, my preoccupation with being in bed caused a few ripples. She’s a person that likes to rise early and seize the day, my bed addiction was a bit of a red flag. In my defense, I worked graveyards in a busy hospital, stood for ten hours of my shift and a normal work week was  seventy hours. Very early in our relationship we decided to make an extraordinary change and became voluntarily house-less. We spent most of our money on an apartment that we were constantly plotting to run away from. Packing and unpacking for long camping trips was laborious and a converted van seemed to be our logical next step. Needless to say, the size of the bed became a point of contention and caused a few headaches. In the end we built a gypsy-wagon style interior that’s mostly bed. What else is important?

“Our van is just a stepping stone so we could move around in the way we love to…”

We put in big windows and functional counter space. We avoided loud and costly pump motors by opting for the “marine foot pump and canister dumping” method. We chose to use gym showers because we didn’t want to waste square footage or add too much weight to the van by building a bathroom. Believe me these choices are not for the faint of heart, you discover who you truly are in life when you’re creating a micro home for yourself. All of our choices were so that we could fit a pretty large 6.5 x 7.5 foot bed in the back of our cargo van. Did I mention we’re both about six feet tall?

Now, I’m sure you’re like WTH does this have to do with writing spaces? But that’s just it, the bed is my writing space. No matter where we go, I need comfort to go along with my inspiration and once we were in our van we just took our house and my bed, with us wherever we went.

Our van was just a stepping stone so that we could move around in the way we love to and remain autonomous. There really is something comforting about pulling in some place after hours and only having to find a place to park. Not having to deal with registering, unloading and paying is huge, but not having to play “are the beds comfortable” roulette is everything. It’s been about three years since we got our van and we have since moved into a 35 foot trailer out in the middle of nowhere. The larger goal had always been to put down roots on a piece of naked land and begin the hard work of building a homestead.

We gutted our trailer/cabin and of course I built another bed. This bed is just about as big and maybe even more comfortable than the one in the van. We built a couch that is pretty much my daytime bed. I retired from the hospital and my wife and I work side by side now, or more accurately I lay on the couch behind her while she works at her desk. We’re going to eventually build our house and office. It’ll be slow going, our plan is to use natural materials and our own hands. I can’t begin to express the giddy I feel when we discuss straw bales, cob walls and earthen floors.

When we discuss the details of our forever home we’re in complete agreement, but when it comes to our work space we’re back to figuring out what works for us individually. My wife prefers to stand for most of her day, so our work space will eventually be multi-tiered; a raised standing desk, a common sitting space and a wood burning stove for the cold days. Mostly I’m excited about the large six foot high windows and the comforter covered, warm and cozy eagle’s nest “office bed” I get to build.

Feri Tyler is a part-time van lifer, full-time high-desert permaculture homesteader, Astrologer and co-founder of She is an enthusiastic bed advocate who hopes that everyone experiences recumbent bliss at some point in their lives.

Her novel, Bubble: An Adult Tale can be found on Amazon

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