How important is your writing space?
On one extreme we have Thoreau, who retreated from life entirely, living in a cabin on Walden Pond for 2 years so he could write a collection of idyllic musings. On the other we have those who can knock out half a chapter on their iPad in an airport waiting for their flight.
I confess to having an bit of snobbish superiority to those who require a scenic setting to set the mood, provide inspiration, and entice the muse before they can write. Really? You’ll start back working on your memoir about growing up in Brooklyn when you can make it back to that cottage in St. Thomas where you stayed in 2010? Yes, I know—it was the perfect place to write. You had breakfast overlooking the crystal blue ocean and then wrote like a madman, finishing over 20 pages while you were there. Hell, if you’re writing about Brooklyn, I’d think that a honking taxi outside would be a prerequisite. Fairly or not, I lump those “writers” in the same group as those who sit around and wait for inspiration to hit before they write. In my harsh world of assigning categories, they’re either poets or dilettantes.
Judgmental? Who, me?
Still, my writing space is pretty important to me, and I don’t do well away from it. Maybe for me, routine and familiarity take the place of inspiration. My muse is not fond of travel and seldom leaves home.
For your amusement, I’ve included a picture of my writing space so you can see how perfectly ordinary it is. And yet it isn’t, at least to me.
- The built-in credenza is poorly designed for my needs. So I’ve replaced the drawer with a make-shift keyboard surface at the right height, and added a pull-out work space to another drawer (I work from my left side, for some unknown reason)
- Yes, I have 2 computers. But that’s only because I’m in the middle of changing over and have a technical issue that’s been waiting for me to solve it for, oh, can it really be 6 months now? My nice new monitor is on the new computer, which is mostly idle, while the small, borrowed monitor is on the one I use every day. Go figure.
- Note the screen saver, which is the island that reminds me of Avalon, S.C.
- And the ever present box of tissues. Probably why I can’t work in an airport.
- A thesaurus is open on my desk whenever I’m writing. Beside that is the marked-up 1st draft of Avalon, S.C. And my glasses (I have a pair of drugstore full-lens reading glasses that I use while working at the computer instead of my bifocals).
I’ve recently made a significant change to my work space. Ginny gave me an antique oak chair that I’ve been using for going on 40 years now. But retirement—the combination of sitting in it for many more hours than I did while I was working and being old enough to retire—has rendered it inadequate. So just this week I’ve replaced it with an ergonomic computer chair that is way better for my old, tired butt.
Here you can see and appreciate the chair that’s lasted all these years, and my ultimately inadequate attempts to add padding. The desk is an antique oak partner’s desk that I share with Kate (as you can see, the chair matches it perfectly).
A couple of other things I’ll point out from this view:
- That small piece of art on the left side of the desk is a frame with 2 tarot cards in it, the King of Swords and the Queen of Cups. Those cards were an important feature in Return from Avalon (and Points West). Denise gifted me with this treasure shortly after she read the book, and it’s been there in my work space for inspiration ever since (moving from work to home when I retired). So perhaps that’s why I can’t work in airports—the muse wants her tarot cards.
- I’m currently reading a collection of Arthurian Romances by Chretien de Troyes. These stories were written in the 12th Century and formed much of the basis for the legend of King Arthur as we know it. It’s like watching a black-and-white movie from the 30s. The language is stilted, women fall for men because they are handsome and virtuous—boy, would I be in trouble—and special effects are non-existent. But I’m compelled to continually infuse myself with Arthurian stories, and this volume has been patiently waiting its turn for a while now.