Sunday, March 11, 2007

Work Spaces I Have Known (and Loved)

My latest office--like my new book--is a work in progress. It just occurred to me that I've been in this Tennessee house for almost five years (!). And there are still no photos, no award plaques, no artwork on the walls. Even my bulletin board is leaning against the rear of my desk. Here and there are still-unpacked cartons.

Hmm. I wonder why that is?

I swear, I'm not neurotic.

I'm happy in this house nestled in the Tennessee mountains. The view from my lower-level office window is an ever-changing panorama of natural beauty. In the yard and the woods beyond that lead down into a ravine then to North Chickamauga Creek, I can watch Gold Finches and Chickadees and a pair of Pileated Woodpeckers. This week a devoted couple of Blue Birds (they're monogamous) are building their first nest of the season in a corner of my deck. In the distance the occasional, magnificent Bald Eagle skims along the ridge. Talk about inspiration.

I long ago finished decorating the rest of the house. But my office is still...another work in progress.

It's a perfect space for a writer, too. I've gotten a lot of work done here. The basics are all in place. I have a corner filled with tall bookshelves, another corner that holds my L-shaped desk overlooking that gorgeous view, and several storage pieces fill another wall.

So what's my problem?

For sure, I've had a lot of different work spaces in different places. In Connecticut, where I began to write and eventually sold a first book, I perched over a portable typewriter on the living room carpet. Then (my back was killing me) I "graduated" to the kitchen table and from there to the basement. The basement? Yep, my first bonafide office. One summer while I was visiting my parents in Ohio, my husband (bless his heart) constructed that space for me, sheetrocked the walls, hung a beautiful fern above my new file cabinet, and even bought me a real desk! I took it from there.

I loved that office--until we moved. Still in Connecticut, in a different house, I worked again for a while in the living room then the dining room, even on the sunporch. At the time my kitten, Miss Kitty, loved to doze on top of the nice, warm Selectric typewriter while I worked. A friend suggested a better name for her would have been Louisa May Alcatt, which I still think is the best cat name ever. When my older son went away to school, I used his room.

Then I moved. Again.

In southern Ohio I got my very own writer's garret, a long, somewhat narrow space upstairs with a window that overlooked the driveway (gotta be able to see the UPS guy coming), and a peak-of-the-roof ceiling. It was truly perfect. All my stuff fit there, I chose a color scheme, and bought a sofa to sprawl on while I edited my manuscripts.

Then, a few years ago, I relocated to Tennessee. Sometimes it seems as if I've written half my books from the back of a moving van!

Hey. And maybe that's the answer: I'm actually afraid to personalize this space because if I do, I may have to leave. But I have no intention of moving again. I'm here to stay.

And what do you know? I guess I'm like my newest heroine who hasn't quite gotten around to decorating her Chicago apartment in--guess what?--five years.

Good grief. The timing can't be a coincidence. She and I will just have to spruce up our separate spaces while we finish this book together...our works in progress.

Along the way, I'm sure we'll have my new cat, Daisy, to "help." Right now she is basking in a shaft of sunlight under my window. Softly snoring, she doesn't seem to notice the view.

No comments: