I’ve stared in envious jealousy when my favorite authors have posted pictures of their offices, these beautiful and spacious writing areas that are conducive to their own form of brilliance, usually complete with their very own wood-burning fireplace. And then I look at mine and wonder if it will ever be anything more than what it is. My writing space is my sanctuary, it is the place where I find my genuine self. My seat is worn, my desk is typically messy, and my book shelf has seen better days. But it is mine. It is the home of my favorite creations, the worlds that I bring to life on the page.
There is nothing more important to the creative process than finding a space that will nurture it. I spent many years (okay- virtually all of my life) without one, I worked wherever I happened to have space- usually on my bed with my back propped up against the wall- and full disclosure, I am actually doing that right now because there is a slight possibility that my desk is covered in pears that I got from work, and I’m too lazy tonight to find a reasonable place to store them while they ripen. The kitchen is out of the question, they will be eaten before I even get a taste. So, naturally, I am hoarding them on my desk and writing in my bed.
The writing space isn’t necessarily about the physical set-up: you don’t need a large oak desk and a fancy computer to get those creative juices flowing, you don’t need modern art to feel that rush of words slipping from your finger tips. No, the writing space is more about the way you feel when you are in it. It’s about surrounding yourself with what inspires you, the things that make you think, that remind you what you are working for. It could be something as simple as bringing your favorite Iron Man notebook out to the big oak tree at your nearest park- that could be the place where all of your fictional beings are born. Or perhaps you feel that vibe at your local coffee shop with a caramel macchiato. There is no right or wrong answer to the question of the perfect work space. And for that matter, it doesn’t even have to be the same space each time. Just because it is working for you one day, doesn’t mean it will be the ideal spot for you tomorrow. I rove around a lot when I work. During the summer I love sitting out at the picnic table on the back patio, throwing my dog’s favorite toy and listening to the rustling leaves while I type away. Other days I camp out on the couch with a fluffy blanket and a sweatshirt. You have to be in tune with yourself to know where you will be most likely to stay focused and inspired. It is not an easy task.
So today, I’m going to take you on a virtual tour of my own little area- and I will apologize now, the picture is just a little bit older, simply because you are probably not interested in seeing the mountain of pears, and I know I am not interested in cleaning it up. And there might be a coffee mug. And a water bottle. And maybe a bowl of Hershey kisses. But shh, you don’t have to know that. Here it is, my little comfort zone- it’s changed a little bit since this picture was taken, but not enough to make a big deal out of it.
I am going to preface this by saying that I live in small quarters, trust me, there is not a Pinterest trick on saving space that I have not read or tried at least once, and there is not a single organizational tool that I have not bought and (more often than not) promptly sent off to Goodwill. I have learned to be very creative with what I have. So my writing space is nothing lavish or fancy, it is not going to be getting me on the cover of Better Homes and Gardens, and I sure wont be featured on HGTV anytime soon. But I love it, and that’s all that matters in the end.
My fiancé and I both have our own little desks in the ‘office’- which also happens to double as our main living space. This usually doesn’t cause a ton of problems, although there are the occasional noise complaints from one to the other- luckily, that is why headphones were invented.
My desk is nothing fancy- it’s one we bought at Ikea a few months ago when we finally made the space for it. I was actually quite proud because I managed to put it together all on my own without any male assistance- and to top it off, they were Ikea directions with no words and very confusing pictures. I was feeling like one hell of an independent woman that night, She-Ra Warrior Princess in the flesh. There was only one board I put on backwards, but I caught it before irreparable harm could be done. That same night it was christened ‘Katie’s desk de independence (no boys required).’ When I bought it I fell in love with the fact that it had a built in whiteboard, although I have since learned that it’s not the best quality and the markers wont erase without special cleaners, so instead I cover it in sticky notes.
As I said, it is a small space. It’s pressed up against a bookshelf on one side, which holds our tv, and on the other is the wall that I like to stick current projects materials to. Above it are some wall shelves that hold a lot of my books- including all of my writing focused ones. It also carries my cherished binders, my ‘story bibles’ if you will- all of my prepping and plotting work that I’ve done for each of my projects (one of which you can see on the desk in the picture). I have sticky notes taped everywhere with my favotire inspirational quotes, a few stickers I got from a Nano donation a year or so ago, and odds and ends I got as gifts or on vacation. It’s an odd assortment of things I have surrounded myself with, but everything on it is no-shame, 100% me. The Chinese fortune sticks on the far left (behind the water bottle as shown), my favorite black elephant decoration is smiling right at me from his perch, there’s a small hour glass that holds a piece of coal taken from the Titanic, my Walking Dead and Disney figurines, there’s an empty flask my sister got me that looks like a Nintendo game, a little gold Buddha and some pictures from important moments in my life (there are a couple more now than there were when this was taken). My prized possession though would be the little orange book with the white tabby on the cover- written by the only person in my family I have ever known to be published.
It’s not a popular book by any means, but I did manage to find a few copies on Amazon and Ebay. It holds a place of prominence, a reminder of what I can do if I only try hard enough. It’s a children’s book called ‘Tuffy’s Travels,’ written by my mother’s favorite aunt, Marie Persson. Annie Ree- that’s what they used to call her. She passed away from cancer before I was born, I never met her. But she inspires me every day. I always keep her book where I can see it as a reminder that it’s not impossible, I can make it if I only work hard and keep trying to improve my craft. Getting published has always felt like such a distance dream that belonged in the realm of ‘someday.’ This book reminds me that ‘someday’ gets a little bit closer every single time I start stringing those words together.
I can only hope that someday I will be able to look back at my humble beginnings- all of those nights spent on my bed or couch with my laptop propped on my knees. My time in this little desk that I made all my own, crammed into a tiny room that we’ve have to refinaggle to fit into. Clicking and clacking away at the dream that has never left my soul from the moment I was able to tell my tall tales as a child.
The writing space is only important as long as it helps you be creative. Some people thrive in clutter, others practically need a ruler to line up their pencils. I am somewhere in between. It’s not always ideal, but it is mine. This is what I have, and I am so proud of it. Although if you have ever taken a peek at the office of James Rollins (one of my all-time favorite authors)- holy cow, I can ony dream of reaching that level someday. Go ahead, peek through his office window like a creeper and see the magic inside- I don’t think he’ll mind, this image came courtesy of his Twitter feed, after all. (twitter.com/jamesrollins/media)- and while you’re at it, if you are looking for a new series to read, give the Sigma series a try, you wont regret it. Until then, the dream will live on.