Friday, January 17, 2014

A Room of One's Own

By Russel D McLean

Finally, me and the Literary Critic are settled in The Gothic Monstrosity. Our new place is a huge change for both of us. We've both come from our own flats into this shared place, and we're having to get used to changes in routine. But it's working well.

One of the things that has changed most for me is a new writing space. And what I'm finding is that I can actually get more done now that I have a dedicated space. The new office has taken a while to get right. I have a desk with my PC (I still love a desktop for writing - and especially editing - and I hate the current trend towards laptops - -which can, of course, be very useful) and several bookcases which are already overflowing. I have a stereo system and of course an old fashioned 1929 retro phone set up. On the walls are posters for Woody Allen's Shadows and Fog (the French version - - I do like a little pretension) and a print by a Spanish artist depicting a man who could very well be Raymond Chandler getting slugged across the back of the head by the butt of a gun. There's a sofabed (the office doubles as a guest bedroom) for reading on, too. But only when its in sofa form.
(this photo of the phone was taken at Christmas, hence the advent calendar... things are now much tidier)

I should point out that the Literary Critic has taken her own space, too. Our living room is larger than we ever expected and she has sealed off a corner specifically devoted to work. Again, like my area, its designed around her need and working habits. It also means she has a far better view than I do.

Its a far cry from the old flat where I wrote in a tiny corner of the bedroom indistinguishable from the rest of the room. I had a desk there and some of the same prints, but somehow, I could never quite get the same head of steam up in there as I can in the new office.


I think part of it is psychological. I work a day job. I go out and do that job and then I come home in the evenings. Coming home to face revisions/first drafts/etc etc is daunting enough but when you're writing right next to the bed you sleep in, well, its easy just to think you'll have a nap for five minutes. It is. That used to be my downfall when I had a day off. I would get up with the best of intentions and wind up having a mid afternoon nap that stretched on far longer than I ever intended it to do. The new office feels like a workspace. Its a place designed specifically to work in. It also has a door halfway up the wall that leads nowhere, but that's a whole other story.

I have said before that I can write anywhere. And that's true. The laptop has come with me to hotels and on on trains and on lunch breaks. But there's only so much writing you can do in that fashion. For editing in particular, I need a space where I can wholeheartedly focus. Its why having a desktop is important to me. Even if it was a corner of the bedroom and close to the temptation of sleep, that little area was the place where I worked. It was the place where my thoughts could focus. Transferring that to a whole room has worked wonders for productivity and motivation.While I advocate that you can write anywhere if the need is strong enough, finding a space that works for you is vital for more in depth and detailed work. I can write a first draft anywhere I like. It might even be quite good. But to polish it up and make it shine the way I want, I need a room of my own. And I think, finally, I might have found it.

1 comment:

Dana King said...

I have my space, as well. It's not devoted solely to writing--it's an extra bedroom we converted to an office, and I work at home for my day job, as well--but it's laid out with everything I need to work, including a relaxing view of a wooded area. It's made a world of difference in my writing.