Category Archives: Writing

My Writer’s Lair

View from my deskThis is the view from my writing desk, and I’m in the midst of assessing my writing space. It’s rainy this afternoon, so the skies are grey and cheerless, but at least light still comes view on clear daythrough. On a clear day, I get a more joyful view. You can see a bit of my basic configuration: two computer screens and a cabinet topped with a shelf of family pictures and mementos.

 

If I turn a bit to my left, I see my water feature, framed covers from my two books, a picture of myself on the Great Wall of China, and a small bookcase filled with souvenirs and dolls.

If I turn a bit to my right, I have a container of wooden tulips, a clock, a lamp, and a figure of Snoopy advising me to “do what makes [me] happy.” And, oddly enough, there’s a meat thermometer. I brought it up about a week ago, because I want to look up how to check its accuracy. One day, probably when I’m trying to declutter, I’ll look up the directions.

ASSESSING MY WRITING SPACE

A work space is a space for work, but if the occupant is unhappy, the work is not only drudgery, but inefficient. I’ve checked several sites, and whether they purport to take a zen approach or advise an efficient structure, the advice is similar. So I thought I’d compile a list, and see how I measure up.

My Desktop1. Every site I visited advised the elimination of clutter. Clutter slows our creativity and makes it hard to find what we’re looking for. Clutter makes us late for appointments. Next to stress, clutter appears to be the bane of modern existence.
On the charge of clutter, I plea that my desk top is clearly visible. Therefore, I am presently innocent.

2. Light. In the category of light, fluorescent light is the enemy. So, if artificial light is needed, it should be soft and without glare. Natural light gives us contact with the outside world and a place to look when we raise our eyes from the computer screen, which we should do every 15 minutes. In the category of light, I pass. In the category of looking up every 15 minutes, not so much.

3. Plants, especially green plants provide oxygen and visual refreshment. Succulants qualify. Cut flowers can lift a room. My writing space has no plants. Instead, I have wooden tulips. In the category of plants, I plead better a wooden tulip than a dead plant.

4. Meaningful pictures. Pictures that inspire. Pictures of family friends and special places.
My pictures fill the bill.

Koa Kat5. A site specifically concerned with bringing “zen” into the office recommends a water feature or sand garden. I’ve got a water feature. When my ideas stagnate, I watch the water flow until my brain unclogs.

A sand garden isn’t such a good idea for me, because my writing lair also includes Koa Kat. Mostly she impersonates pillows and naps all day. But she knows to the minute when it’s time to go downstairs and eat, and she makes sure I know it too.

Virginia Woolf wrote that a writer must have a room of her own if she is to write fiction. I add, it should be a happy, comfortable room, because I spend a lot of time here.

It’s good to occasionally assess the space where I spend the most time. And if my space not only pleases me, but complies with “best practices,” then I can take a few minutes to congratulate myself before getting back to work on my next novel.

🌴🌴🌴

Photos by Author.

“13 Easy Ways to Create a Zen Office Space on a Budget.” Snacknation.

Jacquelyn Smith. “How to Create A Stress-Free Work Environment.” Forbes. Nov. 18, 2013.

Sivana Spirit. “5 Simple Ways to Add Zen to Your Office.” Siolvana East.

WRITERLY CATS

Cats, readers, and writers just seem to go together. Before Big Box Bookstores and long before Amazon, cats used to be frequent residents in independent bookstores. Alas, the opportunity to scratch kitty ears at the cash register is gone, but readers still cuddle up with cats, as do writers. MARK TWAIN, American humorist, was particularly… Continue Reading

NANOWRIMO aka National Novel Writing Month

Writers are solitary people who play with imaginary friends. We function best in spaces where we can shut the door. If that isn’t possible, we’re known to wear noise-cancelling headphones. Ernest Hemingway famously said, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” He failed to mention that… Continue Reading

“Should I Kill Myself, or Have a Cup of Coffee?” – Albert Camus

Calliope, Muse of Eloquence and Epic Poetry just highjacked my blog for the second time. Last time she led me to scandal when I wanted to write about washing machines. This morning I expected to write about the social ritual known as “Morning Coffee.” “No, No,” Calliope said wagging her finger and pointing at my… Continue Reading

KOLKATA, MARY PIGOT, & ME – Where She Wasn’t

KOLKATA, MARY PIGOT, & ME – Where She Wasn’t

My recent visit to Kolkata, like my visit to Edinburgh early last summer, is directly related to my current research project. This book is about Mary Pigot and the lawsuit she filed in 1883 against a prominent male missionary. Mary charged William Hastie with malicious libel. We would call his actions defamation of character. With… Continue Reading

London Highlights

London Highlights

I often visit London and stay in Kensington, usually combining research and family adventures. In the past we’ve eaten lunch at various neighborhood pubs, particularly the Gloucester Arms. So, naturally the day after our arrival we made our way to our favorite pub on Gloucester Road, only to find the menu had undergone a drastic… Continue Reading

“MALICE” AT THE BRITISH LIBRARY

“MALICE” AT THE BRITISH LIBRARY

I’m embarking on a new literary discovery adventure, presently titled “MALICE.” The story revolves around a Eurasian woman in nineteenth century Calcutta and the civil lawsuit she filed in 1883. Mary Pigot publicly accused an esteemed Scottish missionary with malicious libel — an intentional act meant to cause harm. The case was reported in full… Continue Reading

The Writer’s Lair

The Writer’s Lair

Every writer has a lair. It may be in the empty space under the stair. [Sorry, I couldn’t help that one.] It might be in the garage, or the laundry room, or any place really. This is a photo of the desk area where I wrote Rama’s Labyrinth. There’s a window on the right, so… Continue Reading

Rama’s Labyrinth

Rama’s Labyrinth

This past week has been exceptionally exciting. Rama’s Labyrinth, the book I’ve been working on for over five years, is now available on Amazon.com (some readers will find it on Amazon.co.uk). The ebook is US$2.99 and the softcover print volume is US$19.99. Rama’s Labyrinth is a biographical historical novel. We meet Rama in India when… Continue Reading

THE 100-TH POST

THE 100-TH POST

  If I gambled, I’d bet you expect me to write about Halloween again. Normally I would, but this post is even more special than things that go bump in the night. This is my 100th blog post. WoW – Triple Digits!   It all began with the first post on September 17, 2012. I… Continue Reading

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