(Our very fat cat, Minerva McGonagall inspecting her new nap spot, under my writing desk)
Your writing space matters. I remember reading a chapter in Stephen King’s book On Writing when it was first published. He wrote about creating the ideal writing area, how it should be free from distraction and a retreat from the outside world. I remember thinking about what my room would look like if I ever became a writer. At that time, I had very little interest in writing, and I read the book because it was written by Stephen King.
Fast forward fifteen years later, and we were searching for our forever home to buy. We walked into the house we now live in, and there was a room off of the foyer, listed as a library. Jon, my husband and I have always been ravenous readers, so this room sold the house for us. Granted we could have bought any house an put the library in a spare bedroom but the fact that the floorplan of the house was built for a home library, sold us. While our country idyll is large, it needed a lot of work when we moved in. I often like to think of myself like Mary from It’s a Wonderful Life, continuing on with life while painstakingly redoing a large old house.
We signed the paperwork for the house and then went and bought bookshelves for the library. The bookshelves were our first purchase for the new house. Over the past few years, the library has become a special place for us. It is a quiet retreat in an otherwise noisy life. A few years back, when I sat down to write my first novel, I realized I did not have a place of my own in the house. I put a small table in the corner of the library and set to work. I have now been writing continuously in the library for almost five years. It has become my creative space. This past fall I decided to switch career paths, and I landed at home for a while, running my business for a while until I found where I wanted to be. Jon is the managing director of our business, which allows me to work outside of our home.
For years I had been working on a second-hand table from Ikea, in a space that I was creative in but that did not feel like my own. One morning I declared that I was going to paint the library and make it my own space for creativity. My husband who is always massively supportive was skeptical, the library is a quiet retreat for him too. I went off to the hardware store and bought all I would need to redo the room; paint, brushes, drop cloths, rollers, etc. I would come home each night after work and stay up late painting and patching the walls and ceiling, caulking the trim, and making the space my own. My husband Jon, looked on nervously.
I chose a gray/ taupe color that I found calming and creative. Once the room was painted I picked out a new desk, a real desk, not a second-hand piece. That was an adventure in itself. I commandeered a corner of the library for my own space. My desk faces the shelves of books, of all genres. I carefully chose the pieces that would be in my writing space, a desk lamp my young daughter gave me for Christmas, an area rug, and a print that Jon had given me. It is an old sailing poster that says, “The Perfect Finish- No job’s done till it’s All done. Only full days make full records.” This print is inspirational to me in so many ways, it reminds me to finish the job, to work through the writer’s block, to make the time to write because it is what I love.
My writing space in my library is special to me. It is my creative retreat. More importantly, even as I write this now, I look across the room at the shelves of books. I think to myself, at one time every book sitting on that shelf had an author who sat where I am today, having been bitten by the writing bug, and wanting to share their work with the world. I hope that one day, my own work will sit on my bookshelves, published. I imagine myself sometime in the future, walking into the library, a cup of coffee in my hand and setting to work on a plot hole, or wrapping up a chapter because the book is due to be turned into the publisher. The books across the room, cheering me on as I work, and the print hanging on the wall, reminds me that, no job is done till it’s all done.