The rescued desk - where do you write? Roz Morris
My desk is an old dining table. It has been with my husband longer than I have.
He didn’t acquire it by choice. Years before I met him his mother found it by a skip. She delivered it to Dave ‘in case he’d find it useful’. He didn’t, because he didn’t need two dining tables. So he put it in the box room. Then I moved in.
I was a private scribbler, a manic creative. The box room became my study and the table my playground, with a computer and a litter of notes. Short stories, a tinkered-with novel, naive submissions. Gradually commissions happened. My prose left the house as printouts and disks and returned as proofs and then real books.
The table and I had become serious.
It was not a lovely beast. Not just because of the haloes from hot mugs, the cigarette burns and the grooves from children’s scribbles. I’ve never seen wood that looked so like Formica. I sanded and painted the top, in a paler tone of the smoky lilac on the walls. The table’s legs were neither substantial nor retro spindly. But painted black they became svelte stilettos. Dave made me bookcases, also in black.
There isn’t much else in the room. In one corner is a Nepalese cushion, to be used for reading and for plotting out books on index cards. The cushion is a hypnotic-looking mandala with red tasselled corners. (Tasteful neutrals make me cross.)
Beside the monitor is a stack of CDs, chosen to witch up characters, places and scene moods for works in progress. Pens are crammed in a box that once held Laurent Perrier champagne. Leads and USB drives live in a distractingly hip Michael Kors sunglasses case (a charity shop treasure). Something, one day, will find a home in the tiny cylindrical box inscribed with the word Pride. Papers, cards and a quill from a pheasant’s tail sit in a wooden chest - a gift from a friend who died one Christmas in a car crash.
Between these fixtures are notes. Pictures, too, of random strangers I’d cast as my characters.
At the moment there are five or six books evolving on that desk. If you took a stop-motion film you would see them multiply, spread and vanish like the seasons.
Like the narrator of my novel I’m a martyr to RSI. If Dave has to sort out a problem with my computer he curses the kneeling chair, the joystick mouse and the gusseted ergonomic keyboard.
The computers have come and gone. Relics gather, CDs and notes arrive and leave. But the foundling desk has been under it all from the start, through much discovery and the paperdrift of many books. And here it still is. I think it might even be older than I am.
Where do you write?
Roz Morris is a bestselling ghostwriter and book doctor. She blogs at www.nailyournovel.com and has a double life on Twitter; for writing advice follow her as @dirtywhitecandy, for more normal chit-chat try her on @ByRozMorris.
As well as being the secret author of many titles, she has two books written as herself: Nail Your Novel - Why Writers Abandon Books and How You Can Draft, Fix and Finish With Confidence, and a novel My Memories of a Future Life. You can listen to an audio of the first 4 chapters of the novel here.
@madwhippitt - Those shelves you can see are but a snippet of our collection. My study is generally the fiction section, except for SF and short stories, which are upstairs in the bedroom, and MG and YA, which is in the room next door.
To ease your curiosity, here's a quick tour of the shelves in that picture. F
iction A-Z in the black shelves (starts on extreme left of pic). Far bottom right shelf, work-in-progress shelf for the next big novel. Middle strip of white shelves are Shakespeare plays, memoirs I have to have in my study because the writers are adorable, horse books (you can just about see the horseshoe in front of them). The mahogany-coloured box on the 5th shelf is the complete National Geographic, and Dave would like me to point out I broke the lid. Bottom shelf is World War I books for a WIP of Dave's, and quite why those have to be in my study I don't know.
There are more shelves behind where I sit, all reference (you can see dictionaries in the pic) and WIP shelves.
Our plan from the beginning was to turn the two downstairs bedrooms into offices, since we have both consulted/telecommuted since 1995. We "go to work" downstairs in the morning and head back upstairs to "go home" in the evening.
We had dual-workstation desks and cabinetry built into three walls of each office, creating giant U-shaped work areas with tons of surface area and storage room (mostly covered/filled, of course.) The last remaining wall naturally has bookshelves.
Each office has one large window that looks out on our "back yard." The back yard is 40 acres of North Idaho: dense forest, rocky ridges, and riparian meadow. Granted, the tall cedar and hemlock trees behind our home obscure my view of most of that. But I know it's there, and the trails I've laboriously cleared throughout the property take me to every corner of it.
In other words, I literally write from a log home nestled in a forest in the middle of nowhere. It's a writer's dream come true, if you like solitude and quiet.
@Daniel - what a lovely picture you paint there. When I see a comment from you now I shall picture you in mission control. Especially your back yard. I'm in London, so I look out a raod, cars and houses!
Fun thing I wrote when warming up for NaNoWriMo 2011: http://cjeggett.co.uk/post/11033653037/5-places-i-would-like-to-write-my-nanowrimo-from-this
CJ, what an interesting MO. I really like that idea of finding somewhere new to be alone with a fledgeling book.
If I ever get stuck I simply look up and watch people...it never takes long to find inspiration.
And finally there is the cluttered study where the hand-writing is typed in and the first real edit takes place.
I long for the day when I can have a separate room to do my writing in, until then its the cluttered desk in the alcove of my bedroom with walls covered in strips of wallpaper liner, notes and photos. However, the Piccadilly line and the front seat on the upper deck of the N29 or 141 bus has yielded some promising material lately.