I’ve always been fascinated by other people’s writing spaces but setting aside a dedicated space for myself seems beyond me. When we first bought our little house, I thought one of the two tiny mezzanines would make the perfect writing space—in fact, these dinky lofts clinched the decision to purchase the property.
I’ve clearly been deluding myself all these years; I thought I was a practical person. It didn’t occur to me that clambering up a steep ladder and hoisting myself over the rim might be more than I was capable of—let alone the precarious descent, or the tricky operations involved to haul a desk, chair and other paraphernalia up there, especially for someone afraid of the lowest heights! The Juliet balconies seemed well-suited to a romance writer, but they’re a bit dainty for a sturdy woman like myself, although the ladder rungs make handy bookshelves.
So then I decided the wide window overlooking a narrow garden border would be perfect, light and sunny with plenty of room. But it was too light and sunny! I found the wide window too bright to work in front of for extended periods.
There are not a lot of options here, but a corner of the spare bedroom worked well during the summer and I love working at the hand-hewn sewing table inherited from a great-aunt. As soon as the weather cooled down however, it became too dark and uncomfortable to work in that particular corner. I often write from our two-seater sofa; I fit there quite snugly with a cushion at my back and my feet against the opposite arm although it requires a bit of dexterity to reach behind me for coffee and snacks. Depending on the weather I’ve worked outside but I rarely work at the dining table which is probably the most obvious space in the house!
Sometimes on weekends or days off from my regular job, especially when the weather’s dull and gloomy, I write in bed, but I’ve always been an early riser and staying in bed for half the day just doesn’t feel right – even though I’m essentially working. I must admit on cold, rainy days staying warm and cosy in my PJs with a coffee at my elbow and a favourite throw over my knees seems the perfect option.
I’ve tried writing at our local library and that worked quite well but I can’t see myself writing in a café because noise disturbs me. I think my key requirement is not necessarily isolation – in fact I don’t like being isolated from the rest of the household, but quiet is essential. I don’t mind where I am so long as there’s an absence of noise—not easy when you live with a TV-loving chatterbox!
My writing space tends to be a moveable feast so I was interested to read psychologist Marc Wilson’s column in a recent copy of the NZ Listener that mixing up your venues is not such a bad thing – it teaches you to write anywhere.