A writer’s space

This isn’t work­ing!” I said over and over as I shif­ted my com­puter desk from the bed­room to one liv­ing room wall and then anoth­er.

In my writ­ing work­shops I always stress the import­ance of a place to write. But all of a sud­den Rick and I were crammed into a liv­ing space less than half the size we were accus­tomed to. And carving out a cre­at­ive spot for both of us was threat­en­ing to turn into a make or break issue.

In our three-storey her­it­age house, I had a spa­cious room with lovely big win­dows. Rick had even more space in his office on the lower level. Selling our home of 25 years and tem­por­ar­ily mov­ing into an apart­ment meant going from sev­en book­cases to one, six fil­ing cab­in­ets to two and three big desks to two.

Of course — even though I metic­u­lously meas­ured rooms and fur­niture – my care­fully planned place­ment of office fur­niture didn’t work out. As non-fic­tion writers we seem to need an extraordin­ary amount of space to store and inev­it­ably spread out books, news­pa­per clip­pings and pho­to­cop­ies of old doc­u­ments, as well as our own scribbled notes.

020So now, after numer­ous trips to our stor­age unit, we live with boxes of file folders and stacks of books. I’ve added anoth­er large desk to our writ­ing space and also a small table in the kit­chen. Whoever gets there first often claims the kit­chen table as a work sta­tion out­side meal times. And from time to time, I even use the top of the microwave as a stand-up desktop.

The largest wing of the L-shaped liv­ing room has become our shared office. That’s where we spend the bulk of our writ­ing time. And that’s the biggest chal­lenge of all. Before, we worked in sep­ar­ate rooms on dif­fer­ent floors of the house. Now, seated at our com­puters, we can just about shake hands.

Rick’s work­ing on a book about West Coast rum run­ning. He tries to restrain him­self but sev­er­al times a day blurts out, “Listen to this!” and pro­ceeds to read me a quote by some pro­hib­i­tion era liquor dis­tri­bu­tion entre­pren­eur.

I must admit I’m not much bet­ter. I’m research­ing wolves and it’s nearly impossible not to exclaim, “Look at this photo!” Or to keep the volume down dur­ing a chor­us of wolf howls in a doc­u­ment­ary I’m watch­ing online.Wolves Gary Allan 039

But our trans­ition work space hasn’t been all struggle. Rick’s “office” is closer to the main liv­ing area than in our pre­vi­ous home and he finds him­self at his com­puter earli­er in the day, thus pro­du­cing more. And the move has made us both appre­ci­ate just how import­ant a suit­able work space is to our cre­at­ive well­being. All things we’ll con­sider while look­ing for our next house.


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