Writers are lucky. We get to work at home, which generally requires a room or a space set aside for the writing to be done, a space that allows for a desk, a chair, a computer, printer, shelves of books, tons of papers… and most importantly, a degree of privacy and comfort. Especially comfort, for if there's one thing about being a full-time writer working at home — many, many hours per week are going to be spent in that office. So creating a work space that works on all levels is something the Wenches take very seriously. Desks, chairs, libraries, organization, feng shui and decor, all carefully arranged…
Until we get to work: papers, books, the natural debris that comes with research, brainstorming, notes, writing and revising takes over. Our office spaces can get buried under the chaos of creativity. We make no apologies for the state of our offices. If desk surfaces and floors are not always visible, books pile up on tables, if little things disappear under the avalanche, then so be it. The book is the important thing!
We invite you to virtually visit our offices, and see where some of your favorite books have been written, and where current books are being worked on right now… here's a glimpse into our work spaces, with comments from each Wench…
I'm being extremely brave here and sending you a pic of my little office-under-deadline. It's an old photo as my current camera is broken, but it looks pretty much the same as now, except that I have a new Mac. When I finish each book I do a big clean up and nobody recognizes the room until it reverts to this again. 😉
I work in a room filled with books and filing cabinets and music cds, though I only write to the music without words. My desk is covered with bits and pieces — notes on sticky notes, on the back of envelopes, on cards and in notebooks, small objects that help me recapture the scene in my mind — for instance the small dish of stones from a French beach. I have a timer for when I'm finding it hard to start — I set the time for 15 minutes and write like crazy and that breaks the initial resistance. Usually by the time the time goes off it gives me a fright, as I'm well into the book and have forgotten I'd even set it.
My desk is small, so sometimes I put a fold-up table beside it for the extra reference notes. I keep searching for new desks, but none work as well as this makeshift arrangement. Above and in front of the bookshelves I have the collages I've made for each book. The old collages sit on top of the 6ft shelves, the current one hangs at eye level.
There's no view from my office, just a fence and the side of my neighbor's house, but the fence has a pretty Virginia Creeper growing over it. It faces west, so in the late afternoon sun streams in and reminds me it's time to take the dog for a walk.
Cara Elliott/Andrea Pickens
My writing space falls somewhere in the middle of clutter-free and chaos. I like having a neat, organized place, but also like having things that are meaningful to me around, as they provide cheer or inspiration. Books are, as you can see, an important part of my life. So are all the odd little trinkets I tend to collect . . . old printing blocks, museum postcards, interesting stuff from flea markets (The antique pond yacht is one of my favorite finds.) The painting of the pelican is one of my late mother's watercolors-I've lots more around the house but this is one of my favorites. And my window looks out on a large grove of pines. I enjoy watching the sunlight play through the trees-it's constantly changing with the hour and the season. Wild turkeys and coyotes pass by occasionally, while the resident squirrels, morning doves, crows and deer are daily visitors.
Mary Jo Putney
I'm lucky to have quite a sizable office, but it doesn't matter that it's large–the books are still spilling out of the bookshelves, just as the desk is covered with papers. Bits of research, things I plan to get to, Wenchly calendars to keep track of the dates. There are also, of course, cats: Here is Reggie the Rascal, lookingdangerous, followed by The Fluffster, looking languorous. The cats are good company, but it's not surprising that I often have to clean the cat hair out of my keyboard. <G>
My work area is almost completely surrounded by the bookshelves where I keep the reference books I use for my writing. The picture on the wall is of the parterre garden at Ashdown House. My desk looks out onto the village green and beyond that to the hills. It's an inspiring view but it can also be a distracting one. The cushion on the floor is meant for the cat but as you can see, she prefers my chair!
This is my mid-book office. The desk is covered in research books, hardcopy print-outs I've been scribbling on, and notes of things I need to remember to think about, change, or jump up and down and weep about because I didn't think of them before I wrote 100k words. Not the recliner–I can't write withaout my feet up, and I got tired of using desk drawers. (the clock facing the wrong way is compliments of my granddaughter)
Susan Fraser King
Here's a photo taken pre-book, or post-book = after the clean up effort, which doesn't last long. Out of the photo frame are bookcases crammed with books, and an antique hutch that belonged to my mother, also crammed with books. We built this office over the garage, and it's a great private space with a view of the backyard. The chair is an Aeron, which has saved my back untold grief (I special ordered a size A, for those around 5 ft. tall, best thing I ever bought for my office!) and the desk has been lowered a few inches to fit as well. My husband and sons are too tall to use my desk and chair. This is good, because they Stay Out. The blanket over the chair is a memento of one of my trips to Scotland, and all the little doohickeys and knickynoos around are wonderful distractions that are eventually swallowed up in the natural chaos as the writing continues … I would have taken a photo of the desk in its most current state (see photo at the top of the blog, also my desk) but I can't find the camera in the midst of the mess!
This is a composite of five pictures stitched together in Photoshop. My office is one large open room, with the office at one end, and the kitchen at the other end. I converted the huge recliner to a desk chair by bolting it to a plywood platform and attaching wheels to it. Best office chair ever!
And here — just to make us all greeeeen with lit'ry envy — is Sir Walter Scott's study at Abbotsford. I was once blissfully, meditatively alone here for twenty minutes … this would be my dream office, though I'd definitely replace that old, sagging, worn leather chair with an Aeron, size A!
Now that we've shared our at-home work spaces with you all — tell us something about yours. If you've set aside a space at home to wor
k or to write, how have you solved some of the issues of finding the perfect comfortable place to concentrate and to work? Have you conquered the essentials and welcomed in the luxuries?
~~Susan, wishing all a wonderful holiday season, as well as a comfy chair and desk when you need them!