Monday, October 18, 2010

Where the Magic Happens

Hm. Bit quiet around here lately. *dusts off chair* In the 4-1/2 years of this blog, it's rare that I've gone a whole month without a post. Lots of reasons why, which I'll tell you about soon. But I'm jumping back in today because this Wednesday, fellow writer Melissa Marsh will be blogging about the places writers do their work, with links to everyone's posts on their own personal writing havens. As a devotee of HGTV (what can I say? I can't resist poking my nose in stranger's houses) I'm curious to see how other writers arrange their work space.

Which means, of course, that you get to peek in mine.

Virginia Woolf wrote about a room of one's own. I feel most fortunate--I have not just a room, but a whole house to write in. We've lived here my entire writing career, and in that time I've wandered quite a bit.

I started out in the logical place: my office.

The office is home to two overcrowded bookcases, cat beds, dog beds, cases of printer paper, stacks of books that don't fit in the bookcases, stacks of novel chapters with comments from my writing group, office supplies (my 3-hole punch and paper cutter are dear to my heart), stacks of research materials for whatever novel I'm currently working on, a footlocker stuffed to bursting with research materials from previous novels, an old scratched up dresser containing our paltry selection of house linens, a sloping ceiling, cat hair, dog hair, and a desk with computer and peripherals. It has only one window facing north, which in Portland means that it's dark in here most of the time. (I've spent years dreaming of a skylight. Someday...) This office is where I wrote the many drafts of my first novel, Tallulah Falls, plus a chunk of my second novel. And then...

...we purchased a new laptop. A laptop that was actually functional. And suddenly, the entire house was my oyster.

I wrote most of the second book, Ten Cents a Dance, on the futon couch in our living room with my feet up on the coffee table. I liked the open space and the light pouring through the windows.

My animals liked the fact that they were no longer on measly pet beds on the floor, but now up on the couch with me. Before:


As far as they were concerned, this was definitely an improvement in the daily routine.

The abandoned third book was also mostly written here. When I set it aside, and moved on to the next third book, a change in venue seemed in order. (Plus, that couch was starting to hurt my back.) So I migrated upstairs.

My sweetie gave me this rocking chair, complete with cozy afghan, for Christmas one year. I've done copyediting here, and for years, whenever I got stuck and couldn't figure my way out of a writing dilemma, this was my go-to spot. I would leave the laptop behind, grab my notebook and a pen, and head up here for a brainstorming session. The chair is magic; the chair always works.

These days, this corner of our bedroom is my writing space. With the afghan pulled up over my lap and a mug of hot white chocolate on the windowsill, I'm in writing bliss. The animals aren't sad over my defection from the couch, because they simply moved onto the bed. (Less crowded for me, which is a relief. Typing with a cat draped across your wrists is a serious challenge.)

If I need a change, I'll pop back to one of my old haunts. Occasionally I'll set up shop at the kitchen table. But the rocking chair is where my third novel sprouted and continues to bloom. (Speaking of which--and thank you for asking!--I'm well into those 2nd draft revisions. More on that later.)

So this is where I work. If you'd like to take a gander at other writers' spaces (I know I do!), don't forget to head over to Melissa's this Wednesday, October 20th!


Sally Nemeth said...

I could not write anywhere my pets congretate! Too tempting to snorgle and play with them instead of writing. Love your pet pile though. Ginny. *sigh*

Christine Fletcher said...

Ginny always had to be wherever I was. If I got up and went somewhere else, so did she. Inja, on the other hand, would wait until I was buried in the work and then sneak off so she could sleep in comfort on the couch. So actually, when I moved downstairs with the laptop, she didn't have much of a change. Just the rest of us on the couch with her. Which she, generous soul, didn't seem to mind. :)

Andrea said...

What pretty rooms and what dear friends to share them with as you wander off into your imagination. I just rearranged my writing space and to my surprise new things started to happen. My blog, for example, took off here from my desk, which now faces the corner. When the desk faced the window, the blog was just an idea that I never got around to. (Too much riverbank to view, not to mention the possibility of seeing an otter or a beaver.)
The one literary home I went to visit was the parsonage inhabited by the Bronte family. They wrote at a table in the dining room.It's shown here:
And its curator at the British Library turns out to be one Chris Fletcher!
Also on this page a wonderful picture of Emily B's "laptop" of the time.
Thank you for the tour, Christine, and for the link to Melissa's blog.

Cathie Dunn said...

Hi Christine,

I'm returning your visit as I'm really nosy! ;-) I love the pic of your little office. Perfectly organised chaos.

I like your chair in the bedroom. Cosy and quiet. And more space for the pets. Love the pics of them. It's lovely to see another writer with their pets draped over them.

Thanks for sharing. :-)

Kelly Boyce said...

I love the upstairs space with the big window! When I migrate with my laptop to the upstairs couch the dog always follows bringing his favourite chew toy du jour with him.

Christine Fletcher said...

Andrea, how interesting that your writing changed with a change in your physical space! I've noticed a jumpstart in my writing every time I've changed spaces, too. I wonder why that is?

The Bronte page is fascinating. And how cool is it that the curator is another Chris Fletcher? Thanks for it happens, I'm collecting Chris Fletchers for another blog post! :)

Christine Fletcher said...

Hi, Cathie, thanks for dropping by! Surprising how many of us write with furry creatures nearby, isn't it? Maybe we should take a writers' poll and see how common it is.

I'm not sure my office is perfectly organized chaos...even the organized part slips, a good part of the time. But I can fake it pretty well. ;)

Christine Fletcher said...

Hi, Kelly, thanks for coming by! Our late great dog Ginny (the blond in the photos) did the same thing as your dog. Wherever she was, at least two toys were sure to be nearby! :)

Melissa Amateis said...

Thanks so much for participating, Christine! Like you, when I got a laptop, I loved not being "chained" to the desk anymore. So, so nice. I've written in bed, on the couch, even outside on the deck. Bliss!

Christine Fletcher said...

Melissa, thanks for the peek into other writers' spaces (and yours)--it was a great idea, and I really enjoyed seeing where other people work.

Last year we got a netbook, which is significantly smaller than the laptop, and perfect for excursions outside the house. More freedom!

Lisa Nowak said...

Cats do have a way of draping themselves across your wrists, don't they? One of mine also likes to jam himself into the space between the back of the chair and my hindquarters.

If I were ever to do a post like this I'd have to include a picture of the neighborhood where I take my walks. That's my "go to" place when I get stuck. It works as well as your chair.

Christine Fletcher said...

I wish walking worked for me...I think I just get too distracted. It's a lot healthier than sitting in a chair (even a rocking chair!)

Sounds like your cat is providing excellent lumbar support :)

Kristi said...

Hi Christine! I too am an HGTV addict and love getting a glimpse of other people's writing haunts! This was too fun!

Those pooches are adorable and I can see why that chair works LOOKS magical sitting there by the window.

Christine Fletcher said...

Hi, Kristi, thanks for stopping by! I do love that chair. Sun or rain, it's a beautiful spot.

HGTV is the best, isn't it? I get a kick out of seeing other people's spaces. And David Bromstad is just too damn adorable.