Sorry, guys. My post won’t have pictures (just those you create in your mind). For one thing, I’m going to describe some of my past offices, and, for another, my office is a really private space to me and currently very messy.
When I was single, I had a desk in the bedroom of my apartment in New York, and, lo, it was good. A beautiful room in a pre-war building. Light-filled. Eggshell walls. Windows across one wall and a view over rooftops. I loved it.
Then I got married and moved to England. First, I had no office because I moved into my husband’s tiny, wretched, bachelor flat. Then, we bought a slightly larger house and things kind of improved. I got a desk again (makeshift, true, out of two cabinets and some particle board), but it was in a miniscule room shared by my husband’s desk (which was actually my old desk). And I hated the view.
When we moved back to the States, things improved again, sort of. I acquired office space in what I came to refer as “The Hole.” It really was a hole, a cubby you walked down some steps to, set off of the library, unheated and spidery. I didn’t have a door, but no one else in the family really ever came down there, and that’s where I managed to write The Little Giant of Aberdeen County.
We moved last year and I have finally come full circle. Once again, my office is part of my bedroom, a sort of lovely, half-room separated from the bedroom by a double-sided fireplace. Windows fill two walls, and the view is great: hills, a huge gum tree, all kinds of birds, and yes, rooftops.
I have an antique desk I rescued from my parents’ basement, a comfy armchair and ottoman, and paintings I love. On my desk, there are pictures of my family, my icon of the Virgin, an old, china teapot that I use as a pencil holder, bracelets I collected from my travels, and a gooseneck lamp.
Virginia Woolf said you should have a room of your own, and she’s right. For me, one of the biggest gifts about being published has been that it’s finally given me the permission I foolishly thought I needed to make a haven for myself where I can nurture my imagination, take my writing seriously, and express myself. It’s kind of my version of “If you build it, they will come.” I loved my office in New York, but I love this one more because my kids barge into it, I can hear my family through the doors, and it’s right here in my home, where I most like to be.
Finally, let me offer Stephen King’s advice from On Writing: “It starts with this,” he writes, “put your desk in the corner, and every time you sit down there to write, remind yourself why it isn’t in the middle of the room. Life isn’t a support-system for art. It’s the other way around.” In other words, make sure that door opens every now and then and lets the world in. Bon Vivant!