Changing Your Writing Space - Elizabeth Kay
My Previous office
Some people can write to music; I can’t. I have to have silence, which is a bit of a joke as I have tinnitus, but I’ve learned to push that into the background.
I live in a large double-fronted semi, and my office used to be downstairs on the side that abutted next door. They have three children, who have now reached screaming age. The party wall is extremely thin, and the fireplaces use the same chimney which seems to act as a sound box. They’re very nice people, but kids will be kids, especially when they have friends round. Consequently, we’ve decided to have the chimney bricked in and the wall soundproofed, but the guy who is going to do it has broken his hand so the job is delayed for a couple of months. I am fortunate enough to have a studio as well, which is also downstairs and on the other side of the house and a lot smaller, so I decided to up sticks and relocate. It’s been a revelation.
Yesterday I wrote more in one day than I have in the last month. I had no idea that extraneous sound affected me quite that much, I thought I could write anywhere. The view from the window is back gardens rather than the street, so it’s really tranquil and I no longer have the traffic piling up outside during the rush hour. I can concentrate. It’s quite a high window so I have to stand up to watch the birds, but that’s good because otherwise I’d be twitching all day.
My husband, an IT consultant, works at home most of the time, and has several computers in his office upstairs. He had the cable connection, and I’d used the wireless link. It wouldn’t work consistently in my new office – in fact, most of the time it wouldn’t work at all due to the number of intervening walls. The answer has been something called a powerline adaptor, which plugs into an electric socket. When we bought this house we more or less gutted it, and we have a minimum of four sockets in every room – sometimes more. Even so, I still need a trailing socket. Because the room is so small it’s cheaper to run an electric heater from time to time instead of turning on the whole central heating. Then there’s the printers, the phone, a couple of table lights… and so on. I’ve only had this computer for 18 months, but I’ve still got through two keyboards. The ones they supply have stick-on keys, which rub off pretty quickly, and my old keyboard from way back which has proper moulded keys has the wrong connection. So I decided splash out on a new keyboard. The only one with moulded keys I could find (I wanted to try out the action, which precluded buying one online) was a gaming keyboard. The letters are actually see-through, and backlit from behind. In RED! This is fabulous, because I can type in the evening without turning on the main light. It’s like summoning your prose from the depths of hell… I love it.
I'm going to turn my old office into my new studio... whenever the soundproofing work gets done. Which just seems to get put back further and further. But I don't care any more!!!
And, like Chris, I want that keyboard.
But I seem to work best anywhere that isn't at home - pubs, cafes, poolsides, B&Bs - and, yesterday, on my partner's sofa while waiting for my car to be MOT'd. Perhaps I should become nomadic.