Thursday, March 20, 2008

A Room...

Posted by Lynne Griffin

Of one's own? With a view?

Virginia Woolf believed every woman should have a place to write her fiction, along with the personal liberty to create art. E. M. Forester built a novel juxtaposing characters between rooms and views. Those characters depicted trapped inside were considered uncreative and conservative, while those outside were forward thinking and open minded; his room with a view the perfect metaphor for the intersection where the best traditional ideals meet avant-garde inspiration.

Where writers think and create should be conducive to laying mind, body and soul open to storytelling. The decor and tools available, befitting the creative process, will be as unique as the story that emerges on paper. Who among us would knowingly welcome any additional obstacles to the already wearying creative process?

Up until Monday of this week, I have written my nonfiction in one place and my fiction in another. Writing parenting articles and books was my day job, the work taking shape in a typical office setting. Desk against the wall, nothing proved distracting; no phone call or printer buzzing would interfere with meeting page goals or word limits.

My fiction was written on my laptop. Making a distinction between time for writing work and my creative outlet, I'd park myself in one of three places in my home--a comfortable window seat with double hung glass and cushy pillows, or a chair given to me by my mother stationed overlooking my backyard, or a simple dining room chair parked facing the front yard. Any window would do, I simply needed one to open me up to all the possible directions my characters might choose to travel.

Last week after finishing a chapter in my work-in-progress, then talking to my web designer about how to incorporate my present book and my soon-to-be-published book into my new site, my editor emailed asking me to submit my dedication and acknowledgment pages for Life Without Summer. Suddenly it hit me--I write novels for a living. Yes, I realize it took me a while to fully grasp this.

To fully embrace my multifaceted writing identity, I recognized that I could incorporate my room with a view with my room of one's own.

So with my dear husband's help, my office has been transformed. Over the weekend, we cleaned and tidied, organized and reconfigured. My desk was dragged away from the wall and turned out to face the window. A new bookcase and a pair of matching lamps brighten my space and my outlook.

It's only been a few days since I staked my claim to this space in a new way, but every minute I've spent sitting in that chair has felt marvelous.

It's my very own room with a view. Do you like it?

If you know of any websites with more photos of author workspaces, please share links in the comment section. I love seeing where authors receive their inspiration to create great books.


Therese said...

I confess I'm not a bit surprised that you've oriented your desk exactly as I have mine (excepting mine is on the right-hand side of the room). I need the serenity of my wooded view, and the pleasure of watching birds visit the feeders just outside my windows.

Judy Merrill Larsen said...

Desks? What a concept. One of these days I need to clean off the desk in my office tucked away on the third floor--with, of course a great view of the backyard and a skylight for lots of light. Soon, I'll be able to take my writing out to the front porch--that's my absolute favorite place to write (which explains why my website is called "Welcome to My Front Porch!).

Lynne Griffin and Amy MacKinnon said...

Hi Therese and Judy,

Did you peek at the link that showed famous authors' writing spaces? It's fun to steal a view of where the work takes place.

It must be inspiring to watch the birds, Therese. And Judy, I've seen a picture of your front porch and can only imagine what a lovely place that is to write.


Larramie said...

Artists require the right light, why not writers? Your new room and view look serene, Lynne,...enjoy.

Lisa said...

What a lovely space! Many writers have told me how important it is to distinctly separate writing spaces for different work. Tim Hallinan, who was actually writing on three novels simultaneously (he recently turned one into his editor so he's down to two) said he writes each piece in a different place in order to change gears.

Lynne Griffin and Amy MacKinnon said...

Thanks Larramie. I do need the light. Doesn't the new lamp cast a lovely shadow?

Lisa, thank you. I really love working there. Funny about Tim; I wrote Negotiation Generation in one place and Life Without Summer in another. From now on, though, I think everything will be written from my new room with a view. It feels good!


Shauna Roberts said...

I write my fiction in the same place I do my paying writing. I think it helps reinforce that my fiction is work. . . . work in the sense that I take it seriously.

Lynne Griffin and Amy MacKinnon said...

I agree, Shauna, and it helps others take it seriously too.


Anonymous said...

I took a peak at some of the authors' writing spaces on the link. Sue Townsend's was the most interesting to me. She is surrounded with inspiration and technology, yet says none of it is useful. All she uses is her pen and paper. Lynne, this post reminded me of when I first realized I wanted to be a writer. I stood the futon frame in our spare room up on its side and turned it into a writer's cubicle! I hung my nametag from my first writer's conference on the "entrance" and decorated the wooden slats with my notebooks and favourite books. Throw pillows were my chair. I should do that again...

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