Monday, August 06, 2012

Imagining a Perfect Space

Writing Space
A quick blueprint style sketch of my imaginary writing room, sketched on the back of an envelope, 'cause that's how I roll.

Strikethru recently started a discussion regarding what one might want in an ideal writing space. I'm a little late to the party, but I had to respond. I love this subject. I've spent many, many hours when I could be writing or otherwise gainfully employed browsing through flickr photos of writing desks and articles on how and where "real" writers like to write.

As for me, I think I'd like something a bit bigger than a shack or trailer. This may stem from either the fact that I've pretty much never had anything *but* cramped and cluttered quarters, or my general tendency toward claustrophobia. In any case, I'll take a slightly different stance. Here's what I'd like in my (fairly airy and spacious) writing room:

- Big windows or French doors, set away enough from the rest of the room that I can avoid glare and weird shadows, and with good blinds for those times when I want to close out the outside world. There would be a view--not necessarily a vista (though vistas are nice), but at least an ever-changing panorama of some sort. Not close to a street: people-watching is all well and good, but if I feel like they're watching me back, I can't concentrate. I'd rather have rolling fields or cow pastures or distant woods, or maybe a nice water view. Having something like bird feeders on a patio just outside would be good,too: something to watch more or less mindlessly. I do love a bird feeder. (I need to set up my hummingbird feeder again one of these days, come to think of it.)

- A ginormous heavy old table--like a farm table or board room table, preferably with plenty of character--for spreading out papers and such as I write by hand or typewriter or on the laptop with nothing else attached. In real life, I know such a table would almost instantly become and remain cluttered, but in my writing room dream, it is a beautifully open and inviting surface, always at the ready and picked up tidily after use. I'd probably also want some equally well-lived chairs to go with it.

- A place for an electric kettle and coffee and tea supplies, and a water supply for making such. Enough said. Also a mini fridge. Good call, Speegle.

- A decent speaker setup. Though to be honest, while I like the *idea* of writing to music, I don't really listen to it all that often when I'm really trying to get things done--I'm too easily distracted, even by wordless classical music. But sometimes, you *need* a little U2 or Holst or Merle Haggard or what-have-you to set the mood. It all depends. Gotta be ready. Having a place to keep a guitar or mandolin on a stand for noodling on while I'm thinking could be good, too.

- A big leather recliner with a blanket draped over the back: a good place to read, and comfortable enough for snoozing whilst contemplating, but not quite bed-like enough to encourage escape-by-napping. I'd also keep a lap desk by the side of it for times I felt like writing or computing there, and a cup o' pencils on the side table.

Actually, on second thought make that *two* pencil cups, one for sharps and one for dulls, with some sort of system for making it obvious which is which (green and red, maybe?), and add additional dual pencil cups around the room.

- An old medicine cabinet type thing with lots of interesting nooks and crannies for storing ink and pens and pencils and other assorted supplies. Actually, what'd be really cool (while I'm in complete fantasy mode here) would be a custom designed cabinet with bookshelves at the very top for reference books and binders and used notebooks, little bitty drawers for things like pen nibs and pencil leads, slightly bigger ones for index cards and pens and pencils, and a space at the bottom for storing unused notebooks and paper. Yeah. That wouldn't cost much to do, would it?

- A fairly barebones computer desk, with space for a nice big monitor and logical places for my scanner and printer and all. I'd also want enough room to set out notebooks or papers I was transcribing, or reference materials, but I'd guess I'd do most of my initial writing at the big ol' table.

- A cat. Cats make for good writing companions: sleeping cats have a nice dreamy aura about 'em to aid in creativity. I'm biased enough to believe this is particularly true of Siamese. And fortunately I have one on hand, with a spare half-Siamese as backup. Some dogs make good muses as current dog is, however, faulty in this regard, being as how he is sitting-still-for-more-than-moments-impaired.

So there you have it. No big surprises to those who've been following along for awhile, I don't think.

It's that big ol' table that most grips my imagination, for some reason. There's just something about a big ol' table. Maybe it's just the idea of having a writing surface that can be approached from all four sides? Or else it's the former homeschooler in me....

Sunday, August 05, 2012

A Matter of (Sentimental) Value

Pentel Twist-Erase

I had to go out of town for work a few weeks back--an extremely rare occurrence for me, which made it all the more stressful (read: I am a total wimp when it comes to leaving familiar ground). We went to Eastern Washington, which (generally unlike Western Washington) is quite hot during the summer. Knowing that there was a good possibility my belongings would be exposed to being left in a hot car, pencil made better sense than fountain pen to bring along for writing. I also knew I'd likely be wayyy too busy and on-the-go to mess around with sharpening, so mechanical pencil it was. Finally, I knew I'd be going to multiple sites, under major time constraints, so the chances of my leaving a pencil behind were pretty much guaranteed.

With all this factored in, I took along a purple Pentel Twist-Erase: rugged, dependable, well-equipped in the eraser department, and not too pricey or difficult to replace should the all-but-inevitable occur and it get permanently borrowed or left behind. I stuffed it full of leads, and off we went.

It had a pretty tough week: heavy and rough usage, and not just by me. Since I seemed to always be the one who always had a writing instrument at the ready, it got passed around a lot. People broke leads, it was dropped, tossed in linty purse pockets, and left (as predicted) in a car hot enough to do this to the gummy vitamins I foolishly toted along:

A few times I thought I'd lost it, or that someone had wandered off with it. But somehow, it came through it all without a hitch. We're still together. It got me through what was, to me, a very tense week, one little thing I could always depend on.

And I was just realizing I'm kind of nervous about taking it away from my desk, for fear I'll lose it. Because now it's special. We've adventured together, this little Twist-Erase and I. It's like the hero's horse in a quest: seems like now it deserves to be put out to pasture to live a life of luxury, lest something dreadful happen to such a well-loved and loyal servant.

OK, so that's all rather hokey. And I suspect I'll get over it sooner or later. Otherwise I could go broke buying inexpensive-ish mechanical pencils I'm afraid to take anywhere...