I’ve always been intrigued by peeking in on other writer’s desks or spaces. Maybe I think I’m going to spot something on their desk that unveils the secret of the writing universe. Or maybe I think I’m going to spy the exact item that leads to immediate publication. But mostly, I guess, I just enjoy knowing what inspires people, what makes their brains click into that mode that channels the muses and lets them pour out hundreds of thousands of imaginary words on a page.
My own writing space has been in existence for more than 10 years. Certain things have changed in minor ways – I used to have a fax machine that began to feel archaic a few years ago, so I ditched it. And that printer has changed shapes, sizes and brands more times than I can count. The chair is an “upgrade” from an uncomfortable one I used for years, and the stacks of papers, of course, change constantly – depending on whether I’m sending out the book club evite or writing the next chapter of Fin and Giselle. I always use bright-colored file folders that balance into more and more precarious stacks: blue means one thing to me, red another, yellow another, etc. It’s my vague way of feeling organized, despite the usual mess.
The things that have always stayed the same, however, are the things I most love: The photos on the wall have been there for 12 years, and were old even then – they were taken by me and my husband in the years we were dating or the early years of our marriage. The photos on the desk, right underneath the computer, are of my children when they were 1 year old or 2 – obviously I don’t update them much (I love remembering their chubby cheeks). The frames were all gifts from former workmates.
The paint on the wall has been there for more than 10 years, too. I wasn’t able to paint all the way up the wall (because there is a shelf about a foot from the ceiling that runs all the way around the room to hold books) so I decided to just paint half the wall and add a chair rail. I chose a fall color, because fall colors are my favorite. They make me feel incredibly warm and grounded. I adore the color of this room – it’s a dark amber, in almost all lights, with touches of green, and it makes me feel incredibly cozy. It reminds me of nature.
My very favorite thing about my writing space, though, is my window. I like that in this photo it almost looks like it’s glowing, because that’s its role — one of magic and inspiration. It looks out at the entrance to my residential community – a street, then behind it a sidewalk, with a row of grass, hawthorne bushes and climbing trellises along the wall. All day long I see people walking by – walking their dogs, walking to the gym, walking to the grocery store, walking to the pool or park. I see kids riding their skateboards, families riding bikes, moms and dads pushing strollers or pulling wagons. Seeing all the people inspires me a great deal – it makes me think of quirks, characteristics, gaits, family histories – all of it totally inspiring for writing interesting characters.
So what about you? What is in your writing space? What lends you inspiration, and what are your favorite parts? Better yet, post it on your blog and link back to me here so we can see a photo! Consider this a meme, and you’re tagged. …
To see more writing spaces, here are two fun websites that detail the spaces of others: one is from the Guardian UK called Writers’ Rooms. The other was passed along to me by the always-informative Carolyn Burns Bass during one of our Twitter chats at LitChat. It’s a blog by Paul Toth called Sitting Pretty.
I think the latent voyeur in all writers loves seeing where others write. I feel the same way you do about having a window; even though I write nonfiction, it seems I can’t get to the past without a window.
Your photo looks authentic,as if someone just walked in unannounced; not doctored, as so many photos of writers’ spaces tend to look.
I’m redoing my home office and keep looking for inspiring ideas. Actually,just ditching half the accumulation in my current space might be inspiring enough.
I love your space. Our house is packed so there is no space of my own. I tried the kitchen but it didn’t work out and the basement is dreary so I’m lap-toppen it in my bedroom.
If I didn’t see you at that chair writing at least once everyday I would say my prayers because the end of the world is upon us!!!! Seriously it gives ME a feeling of comfort and happiness to see you there writing, and sometimes just looking. I know how it fulfills you and how happy it makes you and I feel happy at that. I love the window and the pictures and the various states of disarray, because it makes you happy.
I want to send you a picture of mine…I wish I had a digital camera…your room is so-o pretty. And did I hear you say you were working on a chapter with Fin and Giselle????
Dare I hope?
Miss you girl…
Lisa — Most of my 12 years at this desk were for nonfiction also! And yes, the window is a must for that. Only recently did I start writing fiction, but my comfort level was already set here. : ) And I laughed that you said the photo looks authentic, as if someone walked in unannounced! Yep. Mess and all. The only thing missing, I realized, is that I usually have a glass of Diet Coke on the desk. Looks weird without it!
Kwana — Oh, man, I feel your pain. Our last place didn’t have a desk space or writing space either, so when we bought this house, that was a HUGE selling factor. I’ll bet you do make the laptop in the bedroom feel cozy, though.
Chris — Thanks, babe. Home sweet home. : )
Patti — I’d LOVE to see your writing space! Maybe we can put them on our writing group’s Yahoo page? And yes, I worked on Fin/Giselle this weekend, oddly. I missed them. : ) I promise I’ll finish that book sometime this century!
I also LOVE seeing where other writers do their work. And the story behind how the space gets organized is always inspiring. Always provides food for thought too!
My space is pretty cluttered and creative writing gets to share the shop with translating – so far the two have been good partners. I recently got a new desk, which lets me spread stuff out a bit too much 🙂 And I’m like you – the window is indispensable. Since we live on a farm, I get to listen to the cows or the horses outside (most days this is fine, some days when the young cows are out there this can be distracting!).
Great post and I love the Guardian’s writers link – those are so fun to look at.
What a lovely post. I remember that conversation on LitChat about writing spaces. Some people think writers need some mystical place for the magic of writing to happen, but in truth, our writing spaces would appear ordinary to anyone but us. I especially like your descriptions of the important things in your writing space–the photos (and yes, those chubby cheeks) and the paint (brilliant idea to add the chair rail). And the window. Every writer needs a window, the physical manifestation of the inner metaphor writers use to see their worlds.
Mizwrite, that Chris is a keeper~! I love reading what he has to say about what you have to say. Did I say that right?
I don’t write for a living but I spend 10 to 12 hours a day in front of a screen transcribing medical dictation. So, when I write on my blog, it is usually in bed or on the couch as far from my office as possible because it is disorganized and messy~! And, I have to have the window to my back or I would never get anything done. As I get older, my daydreaming gets worse and worse. Am I too old for ADD?
I love your space but I bet you write beautifully no matter where you are. Your post about your son’s eyes was so wonderful.
Verbivore — Glad to know your translating work and your creative writing work have been good partners at your desk! And your window view sounds wonderfully serene. You’ll have to post a picture for us someday1
Carolyn — Beautifully put: “Every writer needs a window, the physical manifestation of the inner metaphor writers use to see their worlds.” Thanks again for sending the link that day — I had fun scrolling through that site!
Kat — Oh my gosh, thank you! Yes, “that Chris” is definitely a keeper. I feel like I won the jackpot Lotto when it comes to husbands. Maybe that’s why I write romance novels? : )
And 10 to 12 hours transcribing medical dictation?? — You need a window, girl! : ) But your blog-writing space sounds nice and mellow. You must need a shot of humor, though, to write such funny stuff on your blog!