Saturday, October 16, 2010

Writing Space Week: The Texas Edition

Scott D. Parker

When I made the decision to start writing stories, I dreamed of a place, a perfect place, to write. What I got was a lesson.

What I wanted was to find--or, rather, create--the perfect space. In my head were visions of rooms with dark paneling, floor to ceiling shelves lined with thick, leather-bound volumes, and a massive wooden desk complete with blotter, ink well, and old paper. Not a smoker, I wondered if I could find incense with the essence of tobacco, just to give this fantasy room the final nudge. Not a hunter, I thought about buying random stuffed heads of wild animals.

Then, reality. At the time, I didn't have a space that could be wholly devoted to my writing. We had a guest room and, in a corner, I had a space. It was right next to the closet, one with accordion doors that pinioned outward into the room. With my small desk, half of the closet door would not be able to open. On this desk (really a converted server table I bought from my company) I had my old Mac PowerBook, ergonomic keyboard, and mouse. Setting this machine up for wireless Internet was possible, but it was a pain, so I rarely did it. In this little niche, I wrote my first novel.

There was a consistent problem, however. Whenever guests arrived, me and my gear would be evicted to another part of the house. Frankly, it irritated me, but what could I do? It was during one of those times in the domestic wilderness that I realized what I didn't need: the perfect place to write.

Like Dave mentioned on Thursday when he described his writing space, I’ve learned to write in just about any place I can. When I go on vacations, I make it a rule not to take my newer MacBook Pro. I use paper and pens. It allows me to continue the composition, but not be chained to my computer during vacations. One of those vacations (to Bandera, Texas), we stayed at a rustic bed and breakfast. It had a separate bedroom, a living room, and, in one corner, an old school writing table. I wrote every night on that table and fell in love with it. Upon our return, I put a call in to my dad, the son of a carpenter and quite a fine craftsman himself. I described the writing table and asked if he could build me one.

Well, he did. This is it, in the Room Formerly Known As The Guest Room. We converted our front room to a guest room, thereby finally giving me an honest and for true Writing Room. And, yes, that’s what we call it in the house. There, on the left part of the desk, is my modest To Be Read stack. I have taken to keeping it somewhat short so I can actually complete it. Notice the non-paperback there: my autographed copy of Russell McLean’s The Good Son. The white stack of paper is the draft of a current collaboration I’m working on with another writer. The one sheet of yellow paper is my goals for the fall. The pencil cup on the left is one I made. It has a simple mantra: “Just write.” The photo is of my two cats, both of whom died within two months of each other this year. My son placed it there and I’ve yet to move it. The Bluetooth keyboard there in the middle is linked to my iPod Touch. Yes, I write on the iPod Touch. I use the new PlainText app (from Hog Bay Software) that links to my Dropbox folder. Therefore, I’m never far from a writing surface (be it electronic or the notecards I sometimes carry around). That wooden stool on the floor is for my feet when I’m blazing away. Oh, and that framed picture on the wall? That’s a copy of the news piece I wrote remembering David Bloom. It’s my first piece I officially published.

Now, you may be wondering where my MacBook is. Well, it’s still there. I move it to my writing desk when I want to sit and write. Other times, however, it lives at my standing desk. I have discovered the joy of standing to write. It's exciting, it keeps me focused, and, during exciting action scenes, I actually started tapping my foot and shifting my weight back and forth. I built a small stand to raise the level of the screen while being opening underneath to keep the machine cool. There’s my mouse and ergonomic keyboard. On the right, tacked to the wall, is my large sheet of paper where I write all my story ideas. That bookshelf on the left was built by my grandfather. And, yes, that is my set of longhorns I earned by being in the University of Texas Longhorn Band for five years. Hook 'em!

So, that’s my writing space at home. But, as I’ve written here before, I can and do write anywhere on anything. I write on the iPod when standing in line at the grocery. I write on notecards when I'm out and don't have my iPod with me. I keep a notebook in my car to jot down ideas. I write at home, at night, on my writing desk or at my standing desk. No, my writing space is not a wood-paneled room, but I've learned that I don't really need that, either.


pattinase (abbott) said...

You are one neat guy.

Scott D. Parker said...

Shucks, ma'am, thank ya kindly. You ain't so bad yerself. Lookin' ferwerd to meetin' ya at next year's Bouchercon.