Monday, March 5, 2007

Working Space

Last year when I moved from my longtime home in North Carolina to the Philadelphia suburbs, I was terrified I wouldn’t be able to write. A completely new space. And UP NORTH, where in winter the sun barely breaks through the clouds for months on end (or so I thought). I would be too depressed to set pen to paper. You would think I’d been sitting in the same spot in my NC house for 20 years, infused with sunlight and inspiration.

If only that were true. Actually, I’d hauled my computer to a different room for practically every book. If a novel didn’t like the master bedroom (honestly, this was exactly how I thought of it), we tried the guest room, the little office downstairs, the kitchen table, every nook and cranny until the story began to flow. Did I say it was a big house?

I particularly liked the mud room, a tiled rectangle that faced south, chilly in winter, hot in summer, and so sunny the blinds had to be closed in order to see the computer screen. I was happy there. Some of the stories weren’t. Once when I was really stuck I carted everything into the dining room and onto my Thomasville table, the only "good" piece of furniture in my house. Flattered, the book began to take shape. It liked fine furniture and muted light.
But to move north and still be creative? Okay, I wanted to be near two little grandchildren I love. All the same, I didn’t leave until the book I was working on was half finished. If I stalled, at least I’d made a start. And surely my looming deadline would help.

To my amazement, I moved into the best workspace I’ve ever had – a finished loft with a window looking out to trees and a banister giving a view to the great room below. True, the winter has been cold and snowy, but also full of more bright sunshine than I expected, and a herd of deer behind the house that the dog loves to chase. I wasn’t depressed. I was exhilarated. After 20 years in the south, it’s been an adventure. I turned in my first novel on time and am halfway through the second. I have no inclination to move.

At least not yet. The next book brewing in my mind seems to call for something else – maybe the sunny front bedroom downstairs, with a view to all the goings-on on the street? If I move the bed over a bit, I think there’s just room – though of course I’ll have to get some shades . . .


Angela Breidenbach said...

I'm a new reader of NEXT. I belong to the RWA and ACFW. I also have a writing space similar to yours. It's an upstairs bedroom with 2 huge picture windows. I got moved out of it when my son came home from college last May. I'm so excited that he moved next door and I get my sunny room back! So excited! I live in the country with deer and mountains. (Montana)
I'm enjoying getting to know some of the NEXT authors and feeling like I'm in good company with my chosen office space:-) Nice to meet you.
Angie B

Kate Austin said...

Angie - it's great that you came to visit us and are getting to know us - and it's exciting that your son moved away and still lives right next door.


Ellyn Bache said...

I am such a computer idiot, I just figured out how to get back to you here. Thanks so much for responding to my post -- and for getting acquainted with NEXT. Just yesterday I left a conference in San Diego where I got to meet some of the NEXT writers in person for the first time, along with a bunch of other women (and one man) who write commercial fiction. Inspiring, all that talent!
Ellyn Bache