Archive for the ‘writing rooms’ Category

A place to write

In creative spaces, writing rooms on January 24, 2012 at 10:19 am

As stated in a previous post last year, my wife and I use one of the bedrooms in our house as an office. Our desks are pushed against opposite walls. My side of the room is dominated by three overflowing bookshelves; her side is pretty sparse. To be honest, I’ve sort of annexed her desk and now use it as a repository for random odds and ends.

While I someday hope to have a writing room that’s completely my own, what I’d really like is a writing hut. Roald Dahl had one. Dahl’s recent biographer, Donald Sturrock, described the author’s shed in the brilliant Storyteller: The Authorized Biography of Roald Dahl:

Roald now found that he wrote best when he was undisturbed in his hut. It was built out of a single layer of bricks, insulated with polystyrene and divided into two rooms, neither more than six feet wide. In the front room he stored his files, letters and manuscripts in two ancient wooden cabinets, on top of which were perched two tiny model aeroplanes with oak propellers and long slender wings covered in varnished silk. In the opposite corner lay a rubber exercise mat and several sets of barbells. The backroom was his writing space. There, for four hours a day, he could separate himself from the main house and cut himself off from the world of nannies, nurses, schools and shopping. Seated in a soft leather chair—which he replaced with a chair of his mother’s after her death—with his legs up and covered in a warm blanket, he created a world where his imagination could run free. It was not dissimilar to the cockpit of a plane. With the curtains drawn, and only the occasional sound of Claud’s cattle chomping the grasses outside to disturb him, his green baize writing board and yellow U.S. legal pads in front of him, his sharpened Dixon Ticonderoga in hand, and a tableful of little treasures at his side, he could escape into an alternative existence and become a “truant boy” once more.

I researched the matter this past weekend and stumbled across the following slideshow, featuring the writing huts of famous authors. And from the Scottish Book Trust, here’s how to transform that empty garden shed into your own writing retreat.

Back to the Grind

In author, manuscript, publishing, writers, Writing, writing rooms on August 31, 2010 at 4:13 pm

My wife and I recently purchased our first house. Now that we’re almost settled into the place, I’m hoping to no longer neglect my little blogging experiment! My writing room, minus a few pictures I need to frame, is done. The walls are a nice shade of gray, and I have new leather office chair, which is much more comfortable than the wooden chair I used previously.

On top of moving, I’ve been keeping up with my book work. I’ve nearly finished reading the page proofs for Dark City: Crime in Wartime London, which Ian Allan will publish in the next couple of months (I believe the British release date is Oct. 21). I also continue working on my manuscript for Penguin. Last week, I hit 20,000 words and am hoping to have 90,000 words of a first draft done by March.

I was in my late 20s when I wrote my first book, On the House. Back then, I easily banged out a 1,000 words a day. I worked nights on the copy desk of a Bay Area newspaper and wrote during the day. I had a lot of energy to burn in those days. Now, as I continue the slow and inexorable march towards 40 (I’m on the dark side of 35), writing has become more of a challenge. I still have the passion and drive to do it, but I’m not quite as energetic as I used to be.

I generally sit down to write late in the evening. My day job is in corporate communications, and I need several hours in the evening to decompress and clear the day’s clutter from my brain. My daily goal is 300 to 500 decent words. That might not sound like a lot, but when you’re writing nonfiction and have to sort through pages of primary source material to construct the story, it can take time!

I have two small bookshelves stocked with my favorite authors on either side of my desk. When I feel myself losing momentum, I reach for an Ian Fleming, Fred Vargas, or Steinbeck to get me back in the writing mood. William Manchester is also a personal favorite. His two-volume biography of Churchill, The Last Lion, is astounding and well worth repeated readings. When it came to writing, Manchester was not only brilliant—the guy was a machine. This is from his obituary that ran in The Washington Post on June 2, 2004:

Fueled by yogurt and brief naps in his office, the sinewy Mr. Manchester could withstand 50-hour writing sessions in his heyday.

That’s a man dedicated to the craft! I can only hope to one day possess such fire . . .

Writers and their creative spaces

In author, creative spaces, publishing, Uncategorized, writers, Writing, writing rooms on August 11, 2010 at 12:08 am

Every writer wants a dedicated space where they can pursue “the Craft.” My wife and I use one of the bedrooms in our house as an office. I have my desk against one wall; she has hers against the wall opposite. Naturally, I don’t mind sharing a creative space with my wonderful better half, but I do dream of the day—if it ever arrives—when I can have a writing room of my own.

I envision it has having floor-to-ceiling bookshelves made of dark wood and stacked to capacity with an impressive collection of history, biographies and thrillers. Several shelves would be reserved for research books and other such materials. In one corner, I’d have a worn-in recliner where I could sit, read my page proofs and edit manuscripts. Maybe I’d have a couple of framed book covers on the wall. Would it be cliché to have a bottle of scotch nearby?

For a look at the writing rooms of more established authors, check out this great series that ran a while back in the (London) Guardian.

My wife, by the way, would kill for her own Yoga studio and meditation room . . .


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