Happy 2011, everyone! As one of my New Year’s resolutions I thought I should probably try to get back into blogging a bit more regularly. What with one thing and another, it fell by the wayside a bit last year. This year I shall try to do better.
So, the first post of 2011 shall be about writing spaces. This is inspired, in part, by the guest post my friend and writing pal, Jaine Fenn, recently did at Book Chick City (http://www.bookchickcity.com/2010/12/where-stories-are-made-with-science.html). I seriously covet Jaine’s writing space. It’s amazing. She actually climbs a ladder to get to it! That is hard core, any way you look at it.
I’m actually quite fussy when it comes to writing spaces. For one thing, the room has to be a sunny one. That’s why writing here didn’t work for me:
This is a building at the bottom of our garden that we call the stable because the woman who lived at the property before used to keep her horse there but, as you can see, it’s more of a giraffe house than anything (my suggestion that we take the opportunity to get a giraffe, or perhaps a llama, was met only with chilly silence). When I was twelve or so, the stable got all kitted out for me as a birthday present – new second floor, new window, new ladder – the works. I’d said I wanted it as a writing space (if I couldn’t have a pet llama, that is), and I used to take a notebook and a cat or two down there and try to work. Not wanting me to crash through the unstable floor to my tragic premature death, my parents wisely decided that a sturdy new floor was the way to go. But even with the new, bigger window, it was just too dark. And the dead woodlice were a problem too. I swear, no matter how many times I hoovered ‘em up, they just came right back – usually in the exact same places too, bizarrely enough. So I mainly filled the top floor of the stable up with Buffy posters and old rugs and coffee tables that people threw out. God only knows what it looks like up there now – I haven’t been in it for yonks.
So although I liked the idea of writing all alone in a little tucked away outbuilding, the dark-woodlouse-reality turned out to be a little different from what I had in mind. So I returned to my trusty old desk (that used to be my dressing table when I was a kid). When taking all the Christmas decorations down this year I decided (inspired by Jaine’s post) to really tidy up my desk and get rid of some of the clutter. As you can see, I failed fantastically:
Still, it’s less dusty than it was, at least. Some writers would probably find it distracting, but I don’t think I would work very well at a desk that wasn’t cluttered up with stuff. I did get rid of a couple of bits, but the things on my desk have come from all over the world, and I like seeing it all there. The lynx and the mummy came from Egypt, the lump of volcanic glass came from Italy (Mount Vesuvius), the mouse mat came from Budapest (Gerbeauds), the glass pink panther came from Venice, the little stone animals on the keyboard came from Washington (and inspired the Wishing Creatures of Desareth in Lex Trent), the storyteller ornament on the mouse mat came from Arizona, the little Viking came from Norway, the Lego wizard came from the Netherlands, the green mermaid on the wall came from some island in the Med (or possibly the Caribbean) that I can’t even remember the name of now. All right, so perhaps the Jesus and Albert Einstein action figures aren’t strictly necessary, but I like gliding Jesus across the desk (his wheels means he comes with gliding action!) and playing with Einstein’s hair when I get stuck with a book. Can you spot all those things I mentioned?! It’s like a Where’s Wally only without Wally. Where’s Writer’s Stuff, perhaps? You could have hours of fun with that, I’m sure.
I have photos of my grandparents and my favourite cat, who have all now passed away, as well as presents from various people. My little cousin bought me the brown cat, writing pal Suzanne McLeod gave me the little witch sitting on top of the speakers, Jaine Fenn gave me the black rose ring (next to the witch), and my Mum bought me the little brass desk-top Mephistopheles when The Ninth Circle was published. And obviously the book covers from my own books that I have propped up there are important because they make me feel more like a real writer when I sit down to work, rather than someone indulging a hobby – which is how it always feels, perhaps because I enjoy it so much.
So, there it is. My desk might look like a ten-year-old’s toy chest but, hey, it works for me. Perhaps one day, when I am a proper grown up, I might get me a nice big clean desk overlooking the sea or something. But the chances are I will probably just fill it up with more clutter, gifts, book covers, photos, and spoils from my various travels.