Working Space

wings-cover.jpg     Is it my imagination, or is there an epidemic of deadline fever going around?  I’ve caught the bug myself.  Twenty pages to go on a WIP that’s due March 1, two books to finish judging for the RWA Rita contest, and, uh-oh, my turn to blog at P & P. So I’m looking around my office wondering what to write about.  Hmmm.  Thinking, every person who reads, writes or otherwise contributes to this page is sitting at a computer.  The setting for that computer is unique to each of us—and tells a lot about us.  So, for what it’s worth, here’s a peek into my working space.           

I live alone, so finding a quiet place to work’s no problem.  My office is in a spare bedroom.  Because I spend so much time here, I surround myself with things that make me happy.  My computer is a year old, but the desk it sits on could tell stories.  I bought it decades ago for $10 at a yard sale and paid my daughter’s friend $25 to strip the varnish for me.  It looks like it might have been in a school–big and solid with dovetailed drawers and a patina of scratches.  I love every inch of it, and wouldn’t get a new one even if I could afford it.

On the wall above my desk is a large (3 by 5 foot) painting done by an Australian Aboriginal woman, made up of thousands of tiny clustered dots on a black background.  Looking at it is like looking into space.  I never get tired of it.   Most of the other pictures in my office, including another large painting behind me, are early works by my daughter, a fine professional artist.  There’s also a photo of  Powder Puff, the cat I had for 23 years.

I have a bookshelf crammed with books and a wooden rack crammed with cd’s that I play on an ancient boom box (currently playing the sound track from Whale Rider).  On top of the shelf there’s a live plant, and a beautiful Pueblo storyteller figure that I bought at Acoma for my mother and got back when she passed away.  Also a small photo taken at the last Thanksgiving dinner I celebrated with my parents.

Under the high window on my right is a big, ugly “cat condo” that I bought on ebay for my current kitties Walter and Sadie.  It lets them watch the birds in the backyard and keeps them off my desk—at least some of the time.  I could shut them out when I’m working, but I enjoy their company.  After all, this is their office, too.

What is your space like?  Is it a kitchen table surrounded by kids?  A quiet corner?  A laptop in your briefcase?  An elegant studio?  When you look around what do you see? 

sadie.jpgwalter-1.jpg

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I'm an internationally published romance author, coming up on 40 novels and novellas. Most of my stories have been Westerns for Harlequin Historicals, but I set stories in other times and places as well. I'll also be writing contemporary stories for Harlequin Desire, with the first release in January 2013. You can learn more on my web site.

21 thoughts on “Working Space”

  1. Hi Elizabeth — I have my kitty companions too! My Skittles is baffled these days, since she used to sleep on top of my old computer. Now that I have a flat screen, I see her staring in wonder, as if to say, “What happened to my warm space?” Now, she sleeps on top of my computer CHAIR and when I lean my head back, she’s my cushion!

    I love your cover btw. I don’t know if I’ve told you that! I hope you enjoy much success with the story.

  2. Thanks, Charlene. Laughing at your kitty/computer story. Walter used to do the same thing, and he weighs 18 pounds. Now he’s taken to stretching out with his head on the keyboard. Maybe I could train him to be a head cushion instead.
    🙂

  3. Elizabeth, I always love seeing and hearing about other writers’ offices. You should post a picture so we can see! But your descriptions were vivid, and I could just envision your creative place in my mind.

    I love my office. When I sold my first couple of books, I invested in a new set of furniture. A beautiful hutch, big roomy desk and a couple of bookcases. Alas, no history or sentiment as you have, but I’ll have this furniture for a good long while. Hopefully, it’ll become family heirlooms!

    I have covers of each of my books on my walls, which keeps me going some days. Also, each of my daughters’ senior pictures. The walls are painted in soft lavender, with white wood trim.

    My only disappointment? No windows. But maybe a good thing–so I don’t stare outside too much, daydreaming my writing time away.

    Thanks for sharing this part of your writing life!

  4. Well, I have three dog companions, each with their own bed. all circling my desk. I look up from the keyboard and see three contented faces. My office is large, half of the upstairs and furnished mostly by books. I have ten large bookcases. One wall is American west research, one English and Scottish, one Revolutinary War, Civil War and early Americano, and the last on contemporary mayhem (poisons, guns, espionage, wounds, ways to disappear,etc.) Though I do a great deal of research online, I’m like Linus and his blanket. Security is books.

  5. Hi Elizabeth, I’d love to see your office. It sounds really peaceful and so beautiful, especially that old desk. You are blessed, my dear girl. Better watch it or I’ll come and try to steal it. 🙂

    My office (a converted spare bedroom) is quiet also since I live alone. I need to get me a cat or a dog but right now I don’t have any pets unless you count the dust bunnies. lol At the moment I have two desks and two computers in here, mine and my husbands. After a year and half since he passed away I’m in the mood to renovate. I want to get rid of one desk and computer and put a pretty rug and futon in here.

    I have four bookshelves crammed full of research and writing books, a stuffed pair of lovey-dovey reindeer my webmistress sent me for Christmas, angel figurines, framed bookcovers of all my books, all three of my Texas Gold awards and my National Reader’s Choice Award displayed on a shelf, and a cowboy figurine complete with rifle and a holster strapped around his waist. A dangerous hombre if I ever saw one. Oh, and also on my walls I’ve framed old maps of Texas and have a tin advertisement of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. I have a window with a good view of my front yard and the world so no one can sneak up on me. I love the light that pours in. Saves on electricity too.

    I’ve rambled too long I’m afraid. Sorry. Thanks for bringing up a good subject, Elizabeth. Hope you have a nice day!

  6. Cute kitties! I have a dog who has his own couch in the living room which I can see from my desk (sort of). Most of the time I just see feet pointed up because he’s lying on his back. My office has five bookcases of different sizes just crammed full of books, some for reference but most are just to read-though some are work related. I have different prints on the walls, some by one of my favorite fantasy artists Randall Spangler and a few pictures I took myself. My front windows look out at the woods and the creek in front of the house and the bird feeders I have (which are empty right now).

  7. Wow, everyone is so different. Pam, your office sounds so elegant and beautiful. And yours, Pat, with the dogs and book is just what I might expect. Five bookcases, Lynn/Elsandra? That’s impressive. I only have one bookcase in my office, but have an entire wall of books downstairs in my TV room, so everything I’m not currently using goes down there.

  8. Aww! Your kitties are so cute! And I love your cover. Beautiful!

    My desk is in the living room, surrounded by furniture, the television and entertainment center, a small 3-shelf bookcase full of children’s books for the kids, a bookcase with DVDs and VHS tapes on it and my more recent purchase, another 3 shelfer that I got just for my research books and TBR books. My cat, Miscellaneous aka Mizzy spends a lot of time under the desk right next to my feet when I write. A few times when I didn’t know she was under there she startled me by reaching out in her sleep and grabbing my foot with her paw. Ack! LOL

    My specific area of the living room that I consider my writing space has a calendar on the wall with b&w pictures of cats on it, my kids pictures and a family portrait, an Oriental almost “crouching tiger/hidden dragon” print tapestry and my two winner certificates from NaNo, framed and hanging above my black bookcase near the rocking chair. My desk is a total disaster zone with CDs for when I need music while I write, my writing totems and an array of my story and character notes scribbled everywhere and my research stuff along with the bill box and ink pens scattered all over the place.

    Someday I would love to have my own writing den. That would be wonderful. Writing in the evening with hubby blaring the television and the kids jumping around and being loud and animated conflicts with the peace I need for writing.

  9. My computer is in my living room, where I am
    surrounded by photographs of family, past and
    present. I am also surrounded by my collections
    and special items, keeping me close to family and friends. No pets, though, not since we lost our
    “goofy” cat, Gerald, some years ago.

    Pat Cochran

  10. I’ve got a ‘writing den’ that is a converted porch, very small and very boring. I don’t need interesting stuff around me when I’m writing because I’m gone into the book. 🙂

    I don’t think it counts as deadline fever but I’ve got edits coming in a lot lately with three books coming in the fall so I’m busy with the books and it seems to be coming from a lot of directions.
    I did dust my computer the other day. I’m sure you all heard about it on the evening news. A huge event.

  11. Very smart, Mary, to have no distractions. No wonder you’re so productive! (I keep thinking of all the great writing I’d get done if I got sent to jail for something).
    Pat and Taryn, we write where we can and where we want to. I admire you for writing in the middle of the house with everything going on around you–that takes a special gift!

  12. Clutter and cats (6) – what’s not on my computer desk and surrounding area would be a lot easier question lol. My oldest cat (17) just passed away 2 weeks ago and I swear she was the splitting image of your Walter 🙂

  13. Six cats! And I know you love every one of them, Jeanne. I’d get more done without mine but I would be so blue. My two are a circus. I can’t even imagine life with six!
    Hugs on losing one–brown tabbies all seem to look alike. They’re my favorite kind of cat.

  14. Your office space and desk sounds gorgeous, Elizabeth! Would love see that painting 🙂

    My office looks like Office Max exploded inside of it *g* Big desk, big room, book cases along one wall…lots of clutter stacked around our Blowflex 😉 I’m getting a new office this summer–we’re adding a living room off our kitchen so it will be one big open room. Because I wanted an official entry way, we had this space off to one side…so we’re enclosing it and making it my new office. The office will have a walk in pantry to hold the boxes of books, bookmarks, postcards, and all the other author cargo that is currently making my office a landfill. New office will overlook a pond in the front yard, and will have a glass door so I can see the kidlets, but will still have my quiet space 😉 I can’t wait!!!!

  15. I converted an extra bedroom, (my daughters old room – all my kids are out of the house now)into my “office” I have my computer & desk, filing cabinets, two bookcases with all my research and craft books, my Xerox all in one printer, books, etc.

    Since it’s just me and the DH at home these days, it’s usually pretty quiet, unless it’s on of those times when the DH has to poke his head in um-teen times throughout the day. 🙂

    My son’s old bedroom is bigger then the one I’m currently using, so I’ve been thinking about switching, because my office is starting to get crowded. I’m already to the point to where I could use another bookcase, as I have books stacked on the floor. Maybe this summer. 🙂

  16. My office started out perfect, but then my daughter moved in and she got one end of the U shaped wall of desk and hutch. I have winnowed bookcases down to five so that I could fit in a curio that holds my dolls (Barbies, Betsy McCalls, Madame Alexanders). Every surface is covered with papers, books, hand weights, jump drives, printers, CDs and framed pictures. The room is sound proof. You can feel silence envelope you when you walk in. I love it.

  17. Somehow I knew you’d have dolls in your office, Cheryl. And sound proof is probably a good thing at your house. Carol, it sounds like the move to a larger room might be a good idea. We all seem to be overflowing with books. Thanks for your comments, all. It’s fun peeking into your work spaces.

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