Archive for March, 2014
My writing friend B.K. responded to my last post with a post of his own about his writing space. He called his the geekosphere and posted a picture of his desk with all its Disney paraphernalia. A commenter on his post, Marianne Knowles, referred to her own column on writing areas and included a before an after picture of her desk. In her post she referenced a third blogger, Wendy Van Camp, who has a running section in No Wasted Ink on writing spaces.
The many clean and orderly rooms and desks featured in the No Wasted Ink blog were interesting, but few made me jealous. In some of them no desktop computer or a laptop was in evidence. Other of the spaces made my neck hurt just looking at them, because they looked so un-ergonomic. Although I have my keyboard in a less than ideal spot, I do have a shelf I can pull out that is at the correct height, or used to be when I had a larger keyboard and a different, less adjustable and comfortable chair. This column is a good reminder for me to reevaluate my workstation and keyboard placement. (Please see the wiki article on proper workstation design.)
My husband made my desk out of reclaimed Ponderosa pine beams from the 1800s Manitou Springs Hotel. I wanted a large desk so I could spread out research materials. There is a pullout shelf on one side that holds my laser printer with space under it. Currently that space holds old copies of manuscripts I probably should go through and recycle. The right hand side of the desk is completely open and held the CPU back when I had a Gateway computer. Now I have the boxes my computer components came in stored there.
Since I also have an ink jet, I have a printer stand next to the main desk. There are cubby holes under it for various grades of paper and an old phone book. (I have to admit that at this very moment, I can’t get either printer to print. Router problem?) The original purpose of the two-tiered catch-all was a place to keep scrap paper for printing, but I don’t generate much of that anymore. It has become the place to stash papers I don’t know what to do with. My bookshelf holds reference books I might use in writing.
The small calendar on top of the bookshelf is from 2011, but it is so lovely I can’t bare to part with it. Also on the shelf is Blue Lloyd, a replacement Steiff bear a friend sent me a year or two ago and some other small figures. I don’t remember where the pigs came from, but I’ve always been partial to pigs. My best friend in high school gave me the pink rock. I also have a collection of post-it notes which I’d love to add to even though I don’t often use them. I plan to buy Scrivener and forget printing manuscripts and marking them up, especially in light of the fact that I CAN’T PRINT. I guess I’ll have to break down and call technical support one of these days, but really, who has the time?
I painted my room a yellowy gold but the writing corner is raspberry. I like how the paint job sets the writing area off as a separate part of the room. Some may object to the desk being situated so that I look at a wall instead of out a window. Other than the glare from the window behind me, I don’t mind this at all, especially since I have another desk that looks out said window. Unfortunately, its surface is so covered with junk I moved off this desk or piled on it from other tidying tasks, that it is unusable. Also in this room I have two small bookcases and two matching cupboards with drawers and shelves in which I store scrap paper I no longer use, books that are too large for the shelves I have as well as books I plan to donate, and assorted other stuff, like letters decades and my spring clothes.
Really, this is a lovely writing space, or would be if it didn’t also become the room to store all the stuff no one knows where to put.
How does your writing space impact your ability to get work done?
What is the plight of the writer who may or may not have another job, whose partner retires/quits a job/is laid off/works at home/takes extended vacations?
I like working part time as it gives me both time alone and a minimally structured day. I write best when there isn’t anyone else in the house. I’m able to concentrate when I don’t expect interruptions. Another advantage of being home by myself is that I can do chores and other daily activities when I feel like it. If I want to get dressed ten minutes before I leave for work, who is to know? I can read while eating lunch and finish my morning coffee while responding to email. Not only is it easier to write without interruptions, but I accomplish more when left to my own schedule.
It isn’t that I’m forced to adhere to someone else’s schedule, but harmony seems to dictate that I conform. If you’re eating lunch at the same table, it seems polite to converse, to answer questions, or respond to comments made. This does not, of course, pertain on Sunday mornings when reading The New York Times is my ritual.
Barnes and Nobles Book Blog recently posted Stephen King’s Top 20 Rules for Writers, which included this: 8. Don’t worry about making other people happy. “Reading at meals is considered rude in polite society, but if you expect to succeed as a writer, rudeness should be the second to least of your concerns. The least of all should be polite society and what it expects. If you intend to write as truthfully as you can, your days as a member of polite society are numbered, anyway.”
Once, my husband and I attended the Mountain West Volleyball Tournament in San Diego. A couple, Lobo fans, sat in the bleachers and read during every game when the Lobos weren’t playing and during breaks when they were. We happened to be staying at the same hotel and spied the two of them with piles of books during meals, neither appearing to speak to the other. Although doing all the reading seemed admirable, I did begin to wonder what sort of relationship they had and why they bothered to travel all that way.
Probably people who share an office or are stay at home moms have similar problems. Is having someone around most/all of the time a distraction from your writing? What strategies have you developed to structure your time and writing when someone else is sharing your home or workspace?
We’d been friends since 7th or 8th grade. She sat across the aisle from me in homeroom and we’d converse in sign language, the going communication method in those days. When we couldn’t sign fast enough, or the teacher wasn’t around, she’d talk in an almost monotone, swinging her foot, staring straight ahead, almost unaware of her words. She was the first of my circle of friends to have a steady boyfriend. That boyfriend put a year or two rift in our friendship, since she wasn’t as available t o talk, but when she dumped him at the end of junior year, we called each other nightly.
For years we wrote letters, but she died prior to the dominance of the Internet and email. I often wonder what would have happened if she’d lived into the days of quick and easy email. Even during the last year of our snail mail correspondence the frequency dropped. Would we—I—have been able to pace an email exchange so that neither of us was exhausted or bored?
Although my brother had died prior to Celia, his death had been more or less expected whereas hers was unexpected, sudden, and mostly unexplained. The March day I found out was similar to this March day in Colorado. It was warm enough to have the front door open, and the park across the street was full of kids playing. My husband had gone fishing. I’d hung up from talking to a friend who wanted me to go to the movies with her—I said no—when the phone rang again and Celia’s husband told me she had died. I said, “Okay,” and sat on the stairs and cried.
Later he sent me the letters I’d written to her over the years. She had unfolded them and kept them in a file. I had all hers but I’ve never attempted the task of matching mine to hers because she was notorious for leaving off the date. One of my earliest blog posts (Sept 28, 2013) used a quote from her letter, which is still hanging on my bulletin board.
She’s hard to forget and someone I will always miss.
Possibly a danger of publishing on the Internet is that things get lost, disappear. Sometimes that is just fine, for instance when something you’re slightly embarrassed by gets published or is published on a site you decide isn’t up to your standards. The advantage of print publications is that normally the editors send you a copy, which you can keep. Some of those old journals might be read someday but there is no easy link to you, the author. But what do you do when you can’t find a published story? I have at least two of those out there in the nether world. One of them was published in The Smoking Poet, which I believe is still publishing, but I can’t find it in the archives. The other, Times When We Were Happy, was in Perigee, Issue 17. This Internet journal ceased publication with Issue 28. With a fair amount of digging, I found it in the deep web. Although I linked it to the title, I also copied and pasted it below, just in case it gets lost again.
|Issue 17 : August, September, October 2007
|JUMP TO AUTHOR BIO|
|JUMP TO TOP | CLOSE WINDOW | MINIMIZE WINDOW | MAXIMIZE WINDOWISSN #1551-3130
COPYRIGHT 2007: ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
THIS WORK MAY NOT BE COPIED OR DISTRIBUTED WITHOUT THE WRITTEN CONSENT OF ITS AUTHOR