On Saturday I spent a fabulous day at The British Quilt & Stitch Village. I go every year and as always come away inspired by the creativity of others and the different ways we find to tell our stories. There were some fascinating pieces among the exhibition and competition quilts. It was also a great opportunity to stock up on fabric stash for the year ahead and I managed to fit in a workshop which involved a form of fabric printing and had a great, if somewhat messy, time. Sadly Plottdog, to his eternal shame, ate one of the paper prototypes I made. We have had words, he is now wearing a well deserved hang-dog face and I suspect is suffering from a touch of belly ache, hopefully not one which involves a trip to the vet.
I returned home from the event in high spirits however when I picked up my mail it contained a sobering piece of information. It seems my divorce was finalised on 24th. After 3 years of separation it’s no surprise, but I was surprised–surprised by my reaction; I hadn’t expected to have one — at the very least, I didn’t expect to feel anything other than a sense of an ending. What I actually felt is hard to describe — sadness I guess, tinged with an overwhelming sense of failure coupled with nagging thoughts of how futile it all was. It’s definitely hard to see 24 years reduced to a sterile couple of sentences of finality. Maybe what doesn’t sit well with me is I just don’t like to fail — at anything. I’m still trying to figure it all out.
Anyway, I’ve had a rare day off work today (although not without calls from the office or text messages) but I haven’t had a stack of errands to run and stuff to do so I had planned to spend the day sewing however, as with all things unplanned, the day went off piste fairly early on.
I am blessed with a fair bit of space in this house but none of it is exactly either where I want it, in the arrangement I would prefer or in the case of my office (I suspect formerly a small dining room) as warm as I would like it. So every October I pretty much shut up shop and transfer to the far warmer climes of my living room.
What I have come to realise about myself is that I am not one of these super-gifted people who can pretty much write anywhere. No, not me. Unfortunately it seems I am one of these precious types with a long list of requirements:
- I can’t write in a mess – everything has to have some semblance of order with minimal clutter.
- I have to have my back towards a wall – psychologists go knock yourself out with that one.
- Ideally I need an actual desk, not just a table – and no, I have no idea why.
- Depending on what I’m writing I either do or don’t need music – blog posts definitely require music – right now we have Paolo Nutini. My novel however, pretty much needs silence unless I am working on characters, in which case I try and create playlists I think they would listen to – sometimes it helps, sometimes it doesn’t.
- I need a window – I’m not necessarily bothered about what’s on the other side of it, I just like to sit near it and have the option to gaze outside.
This is not a whinge, hopefully it is more of an observation, I realise how lucky I am to have a choice and so much space to myself, I really do. I spent 13 months living with another human, 3 dogs (2 of them large) and a guitar in a 12′ x 14′ camper, some of that time through the 7th worst winter in New York state records, believe me, I know about space !
My living room can’t accommodate my desk and I don’t know what it is about the room, but I struggle to write very well in there. Oh I can work, but to be really productive and get stuck into serious writing, I have to be at my desk in the office. This has become all the more necessary as, after long running (originally horse generated) issues with stiffness in my right shoulder and neck, I decided being hunched over a tiny laptop was only going to turn the problem into a permanent state of being so I caved in and bought a 27″ screen, a wireless keyboard and mouse and now have what someone described as a Poor Man’s iMac – but hey, it works (well it did as soon as I’d figured out the cabling). Anyway, there’s no way this screen would sit on the small bureau in the living room so I decided, aided by a fleeting period of sunshine, to make the annual migration back to the office.
In the course of the move I have sorted my book shelves and liberated a couple of boxes of books I’m not likely to read again; I plan to take them to a nearby retirement home where I hope they will find some readers.
I have also had a notebook round-up from all their hideaways all over the house and corralled them all together ready for a bit of a story remuda. There are gestating stories in there I am sure, I just have to get to work on them — so that’s what I plan to do.
My spring cleaning and re-organising I think is also a sign of closure, even if it doesn’t quite feel like it yet. The good part though, is that closure brings opportunity for new beginnings, and so with my first Room 204 meeting coming up next week I am very much looking forward to it.
Finally I have a confession – another regression I’m afraid in my no more book purchases in 2014 (the print industry is safe in my hands). I’m feeling my northern roots right now, and the lower two on this pile just called to me from the bookseller’s shelves so I indulged in a degree of retail therapy and my summer reading list just got a whole lot bigger. I have finished The Luminaries this week so will be posting a review sometime soon. Up next is The Signature of All Things and at around 100 pages in I am loving it, so far.
Well, that’s about it for me today. I hope wherever you are you have a writing space that really works for you and inspiration lives there too. As for me, well, I’m happy to be back at my desk even though it is a tad chilly right now.