Baby and Me

When I write, I wish I could retreat to a private nook, where I’d sit on a lumbar chair in front of a fancy desk and reach out for a bookshelf overflowing with reference books.  Unfortunately, reality and wishful thinking don’t meet, so when I write, I have to grab baby and look for a quiet spot.

You guessed it, baby is my little laptop, and if it were a person, it would have already earned enough frequent flyer miles to fly to Halifax and back. Baby sleeps under my bed, along with a pencil and a notebook, in case inspiration strikes me in the middle of the night. I take baby everywhere, and unless someone is talking to me or the battery is dead, I write.

Though I’m not picky about my surroundings, there are some places where I prefer to work more than others.1141797_bomb Busy waiting rooms and middle seats on planes are not among my top ten ideal locations.  Strangers should know better than to breathe down my neck as they peeked at my computer screen. On the other hand, it’s kinda fun to see their expressions when they realise I’m plotting a bombing, a hijacking, a kidnapping or a murder LOL.

My favourite place to write is my basement, my warm basement—Sorry Lorna. Picture a rectangle room with half-windows and a beige/green carpet. In the winter, the snow obscured the windows, but in the summer, it’s bright and sunny. At one end, there’s a contraction called exercising machine. When my muse takes a break or refuses to cooperate, I send her (and me) for a 3-mile run.  At the other end of the room, there’s a gas fireplace, which I turn on ten months of the year.

Right now, I’m on the couch by the fireplace with baby on my lap. Scattered within reach on the carpet—okay, I kinda need to stretch a bit—there are:

-Pens, red, black and blue, and there are probably more under the couch but I won’t find them until the next time I vacuum.book

-Stacks and stacks of loose sheets of papers, some blank, some with timelines, some with my characters’ traits, some with half written plots, some with trivial bits of info and some with names and phone numbers. What can I say, the phone is nearby, and I need to write the messages somewhere.

-Dictionaries, thesaurus, writing guides—in English and French—with tattered pages, broken spines and stained covers. I’m always searching for a word or an expression.

On a virtual level, 164641734.I downloaded translucent sticky notes on baby’s desktop with links to reference and publishing sites. And then, there’s a folder titled M2, which is the manuscript I’m working on at the moment. In it, I have three different drafts and a rejected file where I send all the sections I cut from my drafts. I never delete anything since I never know when I’ll need that “brilliant” paragraph which didn’t fit into M2.

It may seem disorganized to some, but considering I’m mostly on the go—a friend calls it gallivanting—it allows me to meet my daily word quota no matter where I end up spending my day or my week.

If only I could find a new name for my silver baby. Something original, catchy, inspiring… Any suggestion?

I’ve Got Sunshine

I have many places that I like to write, on my front porch swing, in the car during sports practices or trips, in my rocking chair, even in the family room where our family computer is located. But my most favorite place to think and write is in my Sunshine room. The first room in my life I got to plan, from beginning to end, how I wanted it when we refinished part of our basement.

The only drawback to the room is its having no windows. Close the doors and shut the lights off, it becomes cave, dark to its core. To make up for that I wanted it to be painted sunshine yellow with daffodil yellow carpet and cream colored accents. John thought I was fanatical to have so much yellow put together in one small space. But, since he had given his word that I got to chose the room, he wistfully took roller to paint and prayed we weren’t making a big mistake. To his surprise, not mine, when all was said and done it was the most beautiful room in the house. He dubbed it my Sunshine room.

Vanity tableWe went furniture shopping for my special room. After a couple of trips, I found an English Garden patterned overstuffed chair and ottoman that called out to me. I loved it, I bought it. We searched in vain for the vanity desk I so desired. I had seen them in the old movies and thought they were so glamorous. Each store we went into said they no longer sold them because nobody bought them. I found a beautiful one in an antique store one day, but the price was not close to my range. My heart broke. So, I kept searching until I found a cream colored computer desk that was simply a desk with 2 drawers that came with a matching bookshelf. I bought them.  I found a fabric covered sitting chair, one that came very close to matching my English garden furniture, to go with my “vanity”.  Add an old golden framed mirror from my late father-in-law’s collection and my search was over.

Although I am positive I will never see a picture of my room in a designer magazine, I thought I had done a particularly good job at matching everything together. Especially considering the design-challenged person I am.  The room was finally complete. Well, almost.

Before I got my netbook, in the winter I sat in the cold part of the basement on this side of some leaky patio doorsComputer family room where I blanketed up to stave off the cold Iowa winters. The computer room by necessity had to be centrally located so my sons and husband could use it as needed. This past September, on our anniversary, my husband delighted me with my own netbook. A computer that no one else was allowed to touch, and given to me solely for my writing pleasure.

Now even on the coldest winter’s day I can sit basking in the Sunshine in my own special room. I can leave out my books, piles, and papers where I don’t worry about anyone touching or moving them. And since I am a collector and stacker by nature, that is a big deal. Believe it or not, the Me in my writers nookonly time I ever lose anything is when I clean or pick it up. So if you hear someone singing off tune to a Temptations song, it will be me, in my Sunshine room happily writing in a notebook or typing away in my favorite little writing nook.

Inspired to Write

My husband freaked out when we learned I was pregnant. Though planned, our son had nowhere to sleep. Our house has a bedroom at each end with a good thirty-five feet between. Hubby decided to partition off a 10 x 10 area from our large living room. I didn’t like the idea of losing part of my space, but hubby wouldn’t sleep until we had a nursery. Within two years, the toys had overflowed the tiny room. We moved our son to one of the bedrooms and converted the nearby den into our room.

Despite my begging, hubby refused to deconstruct the walls and restore my huge living room. He always has issues with knocking down anything he’s built. Slowly, I began to see the potential for the unused space. In the past, my desk occupied the den or living room since I don’t require peace to write. But how awesome it would be to have an own office to hole up in, surrounded with things that inspire me.

autumn_colours I painted the baby green walls my favorite lilac/mauve color and took down the Noah’s Ark curtains. My seashell collection, books, and sentimental knickknacks mix with family photos lining shelves. Framed writing awards grace the walls. My white wicker furniture gives the room a fresh, cozy feel with an enormous seascape hanging above the loveseat. Reference, writing craft, and favorite novels line a tall bookshelf.

The picture window occasionally offers a distraction according to the season. I watch the leaves turn, birds peck the frozen ground for worms, butterflies flutter among wildflowers, and hummingbirds flit about my althea bush. A list of deadlines hangs on the bulletin board next to my computer to snap me back to reality.

Smoky & Charcoal lounge on son's bed. Don't tell hubby.
Smoky & Charcoal lounge on son's bed. Don't tell hubby.

My filing cabinet holds first drafts of my novels, publishers guidelines, and at last—contracts. Two charcoal gray cats with grass green eyes adorn the windowsill or sprawl on the furniture. My oak desk (a yard sale find) sits in the middle of the room with a narrow slotted shelf on top to organize my work. Four books in various stages of completion each get a slot with character sheets of pictures cut from magazines or catalogs to help me visualize my fictional people, along with research materials. One nook is full of writing tips and my journal of future ideas. The sixth is my real-life to-do box.

When friends or family ask to see my office, the awards catch their eye, but I didn’t put the certificates up to brag. Most of them, I won at local, small conferences, with a few from magazines, and Romance Writers’ of America sponsored contests. Having validation that I can write well, right there on the walls, with all my favorite photos, collections, and soothing pastel colors I love, this room inspires me.

In my office, I feel invincible. Sure, it took me six years to craft my book well enough that a publisher bought it. Sure, I have a mere ten months to write another that I’ve already signed the contract for. Sure, knowing this is stressful. But I trust God to see me through. In this room, I can do it. In this room, I was born to write. “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.” Colossians 3:23-24 KJV.

Don’t Mess with My Mess

Life seldom turns out how we pictured it. Yes, there was a time that I envisioned my writing life to include my shapely legs propped up on my perfectly organized desk while I spent endless hours talking to my agent.

And then I woke up.

 Reality for me is a writing space in a cold basement with my blessed ergonomic keyboard, comfy chair, and lovely “piles.” The shapely legs, or lack thereof, are another blog all together.

 As someone who collects clutter like some people collect refrigerator magnets, I constantly struggle to keep my writing space organized. I believe there has to be a system, somewhere, that will work for me. After all, with thousands of organizational books on the market, surely there must be one cure that would work for me.

 At last, I have discovered hope. According to David Freedman, author of A Perfect Mess, “Mess is good for a lot of reasons. First of all, you save a lot of time. Another reason is there is efficiency in mess. People who are really messy know where there stuff is because it reflects the way they work and think and in addition it’s expressive.”

I love this guy! I like being called expressive much more than messy, so this information is life changing. We’ve been taught that neatness is a virtue. Cleanliness is next to godliness. (By the way, that is not in the Bible. I checked.)

 “I’m seeing pileage as opposed to heapage,” Freedman said. “Piles have a chronological meaning to them. And people know how many inches they have to go down on a pile to get so many weeks or months back in time, and that makes it very easy to find things.”

 Now, that’s me! I do know where everything is in my piles. They have a purpose. Meaning. Order.

 Okay, so that last one is a bit of stretch, but you get the point. It’s all in the way you look at it.

 Me writing winterAnd for me to truly enjoy the blessings of my writing nook, I really need to take a hard look. As I sit at the desk my husband and I refinished together before we had children,  with the special dual computer monitor system he gave me for Christmas sitting on top, I think about how supportive he’s been of my writing. Suddenly, I don’t mind having to wear gloves to type.  Since it’s only fall, a blanket will suffice right now to stay warm down here in the dungeon. At least I don’t have to put on my winter coat yet. I can choose not to think of the scarf around my neck choking the life out of me. I can let it serve as a reminder that its hard to fall asleep at the keyboard when your shivering.

 

What makes my writing nook special? It’s mine, and I thank God for it daily. It’s filled with my favorite things–sticky notes, highlighters, pens, and books by fellow authors.  Here, I have writing resources within arm’s length. I have snacks hidden in my drawers, even if all my kids know they’re there. I have writing reminder Post-its taped to my screen. All of these make my writing life easier. I have quotes posted and photos hung that inspire me.

And best of all—I have my wonderful, ergonomic keyboard and blessed, expressive mess. My writing nook is where I feel comfortable spilling my heart on the page–no matter what the temperature.ergonomic keyborad

So, don’t mess with my mess. It might just ruin my next book.

How about you? What’s your office style? If you’d enjoy finding out, use this quiz offered at MyFax. Then, come back and tell us your results.  

 http://www.myfax.com/messyofficecontest/quiz.asp