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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