The Writer's Habitat





A reasonable person, who is not a writer would think a writer would need a desk, a comfortable chair, a window, some good light, a book or two like a thesaurus or a dictionary, maybe a cigar or two and some angst in their soul so that they could speak to your heart through their words. They would tap dance on your nerve endings, sooth your soul, and feed your ego, shoot fear through your temples, and then toss you adrift to land on smooth golden shores.
What a writer really needs is a good long shower, some food shoved their way occasionally, plenty of readers that adore their every word....
Ok, what a writer really needs isn't much. A scrap of paper, a little time between interruptions, and a writin' stick. A computer or other word recording device is nice. Time to write while the muse is hot is even better. But some simple understanding that writers are not quite like other people and accepted for that anyway is truly balm and roses.

Writers live in their heads most of the time creating situations that other people don't really have to live through.

What do I need? Some time away from my other life. My husband likes to have company when he needs to go to town. I can guarantee he will need to talk for hours with people at the welding and machining shop, the farm supply store, as well as stop, walk around, and stare at every machinery row that has something with wheels on it. This leaves me alone in the pickup for quite a bit of time. Left too long and I'll start another book. I always take work to do with me because time in the pickup with the windows down and a huge drink, means that I can have no other responsibilities nibbling at me. I am free to run down the meadows in my mind and create whatever I need. Sometimes I edit what I've written. No scrap of that time is ever wasted. I love it.

Every week I have a town day that requires I meet appointments, do grocery shopping and run other errands. Then I meet my sister and we discuss important things. There is time in between these tasks that are 'spare'. Those times, depending upon the season are spent in secret locations around whichever town I'm in. Those locations will find me working on 'stuff', with a big drink handy, and a bathroom not too far away. One place is just out side a huge golf course in a forgotten cul-de-sac. It is just me and the birds and a view that goes for miles. That hidden spot is only 10 minutes from anything in the town. Another town and another private forgotten corner. I shared a couple with a friend recently who had too many people in her home and needed a little space. She hadn't ever thought of the many places a person can be relatively private in a town.

Restaurants are also a favorite of mine--especially in inclement weather. How can you beat a snowy afternoon where someone brings you more coffee? I just leave a nice tip for the table rent. On off times restaurants don't give half a honk that you're there as long as the place isn't full and you're taking up profitable table turn around. People like having writers around--it gives the place a certain cache. Find a place. Be a regular. It's great.

Then there is the bathroom. For whatever reason, during showers, while I'm soaking my head, I get some of the best ideas. The trick is remembering them long enough to get the soap off.

Now I lay me down to sleep. Yup, another muse favorite. If the words are flowing in my head just like beautiful jewels cascading through my fingers, then I have to get up out of my warm, warm, cot and put them down on paper, whether I like it or not!

I bought a revenge desk many years ago. Revenge you ask? Yup. I didn't want an office at our seed company's headquarters because I didn't want to have to work there. I told them if I needed to be anywhere I'd either use someone's desk who wasn't there or the conference room (old dining room table at the end of someone else's office). But when my husband bought his u-shaped beautiful desk, there was a used one that had so many little cubby holes and interesting places in the drawers that I said I wanted a desk too. I had absolutely no need for it at ALL! At that time I used the kitchen table for all office needs. In our guest bedroom, the largest bedroom in the house (through a design flaw), I wanted that desk--not to use, but to have. It has a finish on the top that cannot be ruined, but looks like dark lustrous wood. There are dents a few in the wood parts, that give it that used patina and I filled it with curiosities. Then after about ten years of ownership, I began to write. Only the top is the least useful. Those cubbyhole drawers are NOT AT ALL helpful for real work. And yet I still love it, stupid as it is to own it.
The walls are a green color that makes everything on them 'pop'. I have a set of size four high heels from the 1950's on a small shelf with a slave bracelet. A huge blown glass fishing net float that went from Japan to Oahu. I've gargoyles and nymphs, a Foo dog, and a conch shell that can be blown and rivals a loud blast from a trumpet. Ya, I blow the thing every once in a while. I've cartoons displayed and a picture my grandmother painted of a French castle. There is a jungle picture and a porthole from a ship. A necklace bought at the RWA conference hangs on the porthole screw knobs. I love interesting book ends. One set is made from two square planters filled with silk iris. They sit on my desk with a fifth edition Websters, the Synonym Finder and Strunk & White's Elements of Style along with Essentials of English.

Over the copy machine and the fax machine, hanging on the wall, is the poster from the book signing at Penny's old bookstore with WARA writers. It makes me feel like a real writer--evidently merely creating books doesn't quite do it for me. Besides it was a lovely day with fun people--WARA people.

The piano had to go which was ok as I was using it as a filing/priority system and stuff kept falling off. Now I have a black shiny safe instead. (Why are people compelled to buy safes whether they can open them or not? Can't quite see the value there, but my DH seems to.) However it sports on its top a huge basket of flowers (over four feet wide) that has taken me years to fill up. Every year I add a small bit of the best silk flowers I can find to my basket--it doesn't matter the season or the color. It is stupendously beautiful!!!

There are books of course, but I have books everywhere--my clothes closet, the living room, guest bedroom closet, end tables. Books are my friends. Some are for fun, some are for learning, and some are for later.

It has been fun reading about where others write. My lair is a perfect writer's lair. It has the window, the desk, the comfy chair, the books, the light, and the portal to other writers. What more could I possibly want (other than a little more discipline)!!?

Ummmmmm. It looks like there may be a trick to putting pictures on the blog. Forgive me all you perfectionists.....

8 comments:

Roxann Delaney said...

Your desk sounds FABulous, Nina! I want one! :)

As for those quiet times alone spent away from home, I often did the same. A pad of paper, a pencil and a quiet pickup. It seems I'd always just get into the writing groove when the driver's side door would open, and that would be the end of my time. I did the same during harvest while hauling wheat. I wrote between loads to the elevator, until it was too dark to see.

I would also walk up and down the sand road in front of our house. First the 1/4 mile to the house of one neighbor on the corner, back to our house, then another 1/4 or more in the other direction to the bridge over the creek, back and forth. I did a lot of plotting and thinking while walking. I miss that in the city. :(

Tina said...

What a beautiful writing area! I'm jealous!

Joan Vincent said...

Writing 'lair"--love that. And you do have a great one. When the kids were growing up I always had something to work on while being chauffeur to lessons and practices. As for quiet times--I love going for a walk on the 3 mile loop at Sedgwick County Park to think character or plot lines through.
My verification word is zincas--made me wonder if you have any zinnias in your floral basket--do you?

Reese Mobley said...

Love your office! I've written places I've been, but never gone anywhere just to write. Maybe I should try it. I'm afraid I'd get too distracted with people watching to get anything done.

Nina Sipes said...

Rox,
I do absolutely love my very disfunctional desk. There is no accounting for it. I just do. I guess it was a good thing that writing came along or it would still be just storage. I do have something a little weird though. Since I started writing there it was easy to write, then I started keeping our books on the computer and then came internet. I find it hard to concentrate on writing at the desk and wonder if I've trained myself out of writing in that locations. Worrisome.

Nina Sipes said...

Tina,
I guard the area like a hawk. Someone comes in to put things any ole where and I'm angry as a chicken hawk about my territory. But I do love the green walls. It makes everything look so pretty to me. This is also where I put things I like that the rest of the family coughs up hairballs that I have. It is a very personal space.

Nina Sipes said...

Joan,
I loved your maps. I was looking around to see where I might put one. Yes, I do have Zinnias in my basket as well as iris, roses, mums, and some assorted greenery and other flowers I'm not at all familiar with! But, they are pretty. Reds yellows whites purples oranges pink tans blues. You name it, I've got it. And a large standing laughing Buddha beside it. Beside him is a little pointy earred space guy in robes polishing his crystal. My favorite though is those size four high heels from the forties.

Nina Sipes said...

Reese,
There is some people watching to be done, but there isn't all that many that come and go and they stay awhile. I get a lot done in the corner of the Pizza Hut, but my favorite places are old family restaurants with really cushy booths or truckstops.