A room of my own

Well, so much for Wednesday posts. Given the hours required at the day job on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, rescheduling from Wednesday to Thursday probably makes more sense. I’ll learn as I go, I suppose. However, I’m off topic.

When people find out I write, I’m often asked–right after how do you get published, to which these days there is no one answer if there ever was–how do I do it? What computer software do I use? Scrivener, and Word, in case you’re wondering. What kind of computer–laptop or desktop? An Acer laptop, and due to my complete lack of technical knowledge that’s about all I can tell you about it…oh, and it’s silver and the keyboard lights up. People will ask me about about the equipment as if there is some right kind of computer or software that will make you a writer. Unfortunately, I’m here to tell you that’s not the case. Let’s face it, there is still many a writer who sits down with a pen and pad of paper, or at an old style typewriter, to start their novels. I have very distinct memory of writing the opening of a story on paper towel. I was about eleven or twelve-years-old at the time and on vacation with my family at my grandparents’ cottage when I was hit with the idea for a story, and I went in search for something to write it down. I found a pen, but no paper. Still, I was so compelled to get the idea down I wrote it out on sheets of paper towel. This was likely one of the first indications of what I would do with my life. However, it’s also an example of when you write it doesn’t much matter much how you do it as long as you can get the words down.

Of course, while all that is true, in this day and age one will likely eventually need a computer. And over time, I have invested it a larger screen and HDMI cable to connect said screen to my laptop. After killing three laptop keyboards and being told repeatedly by friends and family that I’m a hard typer, I also invested in a gaming keyboard, which seems better capable to survive my gorilla-like typing and is far more comfortable than my laptop keyboard. Again these details make the process more comfortable, but they aren’t necessary.

One thing that I think many new writers overlook when they first decide to write seriously, is the importance of a designated space–a space where you can work with as few interruptions as possible. For years, I worked from a room in our attic. It was a little dark, but wonderfully quiet and well away from the rest of the house. However, it was not without issues. In the winter it was cold–as I write this blog, it is a chilly 62 degrees in here–and in the summer unbearably hot. While layering and space heaters made it possible to work in the attic during the winter and remain reasonably comfortable, the summer was another story. Even with a window air conditioner during those overwhelming heatwaves, the air conditioner would start to lose the battle and the temperature would climb. Still, I could mostly make it work by getting my word count done early in the morning. The temperature really only became unbearable mid-afternoon. However, once I took on my day job my schedule wasn’t as flexible as it had been and writing first thing in the morning wasn’t always an option.

I decided to move my office. I had room on the first floor of our house that had served as a family computer room, but as the kid got older it was no longer being used. While my attic office was made up of an eclectic mix of hand-me down furniture and leftover paint from other rooms, my new office was different story. I painted the room a beautiful, dark mulberry purple with white trim, then bought white furniture and lime green desk accessories. Even my record player was lime green. It was gorgeous, a room I loved to be in…unfortunately so did everyone else. Working in the main part of the house was challenging. The noise too much. Between the dogs barking at everyone who walked past our house, and my mother watching TV with the volume cranked, and everyone who passed by the room assuming they should pop in to talk to me, focus became a very real challenge.

There’s a scene in the movie As Good as it Gets where Jack Nicholson’s character is working, the words are flowing until there is a knock at the door. This to me is one of the most accurate depictions of what it’s like to have that flow broken and how difficult it is to recapture said flow once it is. So, needless to say I am back in the attic, and while not entirely distraction free–as the picture to the left would indicate–it is certainly easier to stay focussed. As for those summer months, I’ll figure something out then. And for anyone who wants to know what they need to write, I would say the desire and a room of your own.




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