Thursday, June 12, 2008

Writers' Rooms

There's a really interesting article in The Guardian that features photos of rooms where writers do their thing, along with a short explanation. It’s fascinating! I was intrigued by the weird collection of stuff (including part of his own hip bone) neatly displayed beside Roald Dahl’s customized writing chair and I loved the spare tool-shed-cum-office that George Bernard Shaw used, complete with a bunk for “Napoleonic naps.”

What I want is an office like Jung Chang or Siri Hustvedt but mine is closer to Charlotte Mendelson. Piles. I’m a piler.

Of the past five home offices I’ve had, this—although by far the smallest—is my favorite. It feels like a cockpit; I slide into my chair and everything is literally within reach. I painted it Scottish Thistle, which I think is beautiful in any light. And there’s an enormous window in front of me. The view is obscured by two large bushes that are refuge to the creatures that inspire me the most right now.

Six important things to me:

1) Two framed New Yorker cartoons from fellow writer Julie that make me laugh every day. One of two bored, middle aged people on a couch at home. The man says to t he woman, "I suppose we could burst onto the literary scene." The other is of a man in a chair reading the paper while his wife types on the computer. He looks annoyed and says to her, "Joyce Carol Oates seems to have no problem coming out with book after book."

2) A small ceramic milk jug that says “kindness” on it (a gift from friend Peggy years ago) filled with Nag Champa, a scent I enjoy more when it’s fresh than when burning.

3) My Fetish Gardento the left of the computer with important bits and bobs.

4) A large cup of coffee (trying to quit, not going well) sipped from what a friend recently called a flower pot. I’m pretty sure I picked it up from the kitchen section at Ikea, but you never know.

5) Cookie fortunes taped to my printer. I started this and my daughter Juliet has continued it whenever she finds a suitable fortune. But we are very selective, they can’t the generic ones you get all the time. My favorite is: Pull the universe inside you. Make it your own.

6) A photo taped to the printer of a dolphin kissing my son Hank. Cuteness overload.

I started to tidy up, but then restrained myself. This was difficult for me but as you can tell by the photo, it is in “as is” condition.

(Thanks to Stuart Neville for highlighting this article on his blog, which I found via Editorial Ass.)


Anonymous said...

Nice refreshing blog on the basic control tower from which your writing flows. I love the color of the walls.
I'll take your proposition up for next week with only slight reluctance. It may be a picture of me in the car....

Anonymous said...


Your office looks so dang writerly. I'll take a picture of mine, of course it will take me six days to figure out how to get it on the computer and then onto the internet and into our blog.

But, I WILL have to clean it up first. I cannot take the as is challenge.

Love the "fetish garden". I have a fetish shelf. I like the idea of putting them all in one of those little sand gardens with the teeny tiny rake. Time to hit the garage sales.