The writer’s desk
I get quite a few emails asking about how I write, what sort of an environment I have, where my special space is etc etc. The bottom line is I don’t: I don’t believe in special places, or getting in the mood or waiting for the muse. I used to. I also once took 7 years to write a novel. And that folks, ain’t a career in the making. A professional writer just needs a place to do his or her work. It can be nice, consistent and special, but it doesn’t have to be. Stephen King says he wrote his first publish novels on top of a washing machine in the laundry room. Whilst I am sure he has a (much) nicer place now, the point is made. It’s about getting the work done, nothing more, nothing less.
I have a dedicated office, for which I am thankful, but writing is something I do anywhere and everywhere. I wrote a novel years ago in half hour chunks whilst commuting on the ferry in San Francisco. I wrote another primarily in the Starbucks section of my local grocery store. A laptop, headphones to block out the hubbub, and I’m off.
Writing for me isn’t like a job, it is a job. I work as many hours as most folks do. Granted, I don’t spend any of that time getting berated by my boss or playing office politics (My boss is very nice at communicating and only goes hard on me when I am falling behind my deadlines, and she has been like this since before we even got married; and politics is a non-issue – our cats and I know what the pecking order is, and who comes first, and there just isn’t any debate about it). I do spend a lot of time staring at a yellow pad dreaming about where a story is going, and a bit of time actually typing words. The thinking is 80% or more of my work, and for that reason I don’t really think of myself as a writer, but rather a storyteller. 100% of my creative time is crafting story, only about 20% of it is actually writing the damned thing.
In case you wanted to see, here is the before picture of my desk. This is a process I go through (or my wife makes me go through) after each novel:
And this was the same desk at the end of editing the last novel.
It says something about how my brain works, but I’m not getting into what it says.