Friday Fun: Amazing Writing Spaces

For those of you attempting NaNoWriMo, or even for those who aren’t but just feel the need for a quiet space to hear one’s self think, here are some of my favourite writing nooks. Hope a few of them will become your favourites too…

The garden shed revamped, from Flavorwire.com
The garden shed revamped, from Flavorwire.com
Rooftop study, from BWA Architects.
Rooftop study, from BWA Architects.
The effortlessly moneyed look, from Coastal Living.
The effortlessly moneyed look, from Coastal Living.
Simple and uncluttered - the achievable? From Cozyhomeoffice.com
Simple and uncluttered – the achievable? From Cozyhomeoffice.com
The escapist lodge for nature lovers in Hawaii, from Architectural Digest.
The escapist lodge for nature lovers in Hawaii, from Architectural Digest.
The one with the amazing views, from Decoist.
The one with the amazing views, from Decoist.
Rural simplicity with sheep, from paulsmith.co.uk
Rural simplicity with sheep, from paulsmith.co.uk

Incidentally, this is my 700th blog post. When I started back in February (really, in March) 2012, I was planning to post frequently merely to keep myself in a writing disposition, to feel that I had written something every day, even if only a blog post.  I wasn’t expecting anyone to read me – and to this day, the people who know me in real life seldom do. But thank you to all you wonderful online readers and friends that I’ve made over the course of 700 posts! Some were silly, some were funny, others were overly long, a few were quite OK and some took far too much effort… The posts I mean, what did you think?

Friday Fun: Writers and their Writing Dens

A day early, but just in time to build up a little book(shelf) envy for the weekend: a peek around the studies or home libraries of famous writers. Some impress us with their tidiness…

Colson Whitehead in his study. From New York Times website.
American novelist Colson Whitehead in his study. From New York Times website.

British writer Ali Smith takes a more relaxed approach to bookshelves…

Ali Smith at home. From The New Statesman.
Ali Smith at home. From The New Statesman.

Others excel in collecting precious items not just in the kitchen, but also in their study.

Food writer Nigella Lawson at work. From Buzzfeed.
Food writer Nigella Lawson at work. From Buzzfeed.

One might expect Karl Ove Knausgård to dedicate a lot of time and thought to his books. Sure enough… and he smokes too!

Knausgaard in his studio. From The Guardian.
Knausgaard in his studio. From The Guardian.

Of course, you expect a trendy office for fashion journalist and co-founder of Clique Media, Hilary Kerr.

Hilary Kerr's office redesign. From Domaine Home.
Hilary Kerr’s office redesign. From Domaine Home.

But then again, simplicity is best. Here is Louis de Bernière’s garden shed – things don’t get much simpler than this! Proving that all you need to write is willpower.

Louis de Berniere's outdoor study. From The Guardian.
Louis de Berniere’s outdoor study. From The Guardian.

 

 

 

Friday Fun: Writing Desks and Cabins, Of Course

It’s been such a busy week! What better way to end it (and look forward to the half-term holidays) then with a few pictures of the places where we have been so good and hard-working…

Copyright: JAM Design.
Copyright: JAM Design.

No, I’m not sure what that over-sized gemstone is doing under the desk, either…

Domainehome.com, apartment in the Dakota Building, NYC.
Domainehome.com, apartment in the Dakota Building, NYC.

Blue, blue, electric blue … is the colour of my room… Yes, it might give you migraine after a while, but what a joy to come home to! (And did you notice the bottles?)

www.decoist.com
http://www.decoist.com

Ah, that’s much calmer, monochrome, almost Zen…

www.decoist.com
http://www.decoist.com

A great combination of feminine charm and masculine practicality. But can I exchange the dog for a cat?

Writing Shed, from Flavorwire.com
Writing Shed, from Flavorwire.com

Preferably in a forest, far, far away from here, with no Internet connection…

Have a lovely weekend!

Friday Fun: Writers’ Studies

I’ve been struggling with a poetry assignment all this week, so no time to be clever, or poetical  or witty today. Instead, I wish you a happy weekend and leave you with this pictures of the studies/workrooms of famous authors. Today I opt for the glitzy, glamorous and rather tidy…

Michael Pollan, American journalist and foodwriter. From tobeshelved.com
Michael Pollan, American journalist and food writer. His writing hut from tobeshelved.com
Hilary Kerr, fashion writer and stylist. From domainehome.com.
Hilary Kerr, fashion writer and stylist. From domainehome.com.
Colson Whitehead, American novelist. From Tmagazine, New York Times.
Colson Whitehead, American novelist. From Tmagazine, New York Times.
Roddy Doyle, Irish novelist and dramatist.  From Tmagazine, New York Times.
Roddy Doyle, Irish novelist and dramatist. From Tmagazine, New York Times.
Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892 - 1950), American poet. From Writershouses.com
Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892 – 1950), American poet. From Writershouses.com

A Room of One’s Own

Sorry to disappoint you, but I am not going to give you a summary or review or debate about Virginia Woolf’s seminal and polemical essay published in 1929 entitled ‘A Room of One’s Own’.  There is a detailed analysis of the book on SparkNotes, but reactions to this proto-feminist essay are usually mixed.  When I reread it recently, I was pleasantly surprised to find it much wittier and easy to read than I had remembered, and certainly more accessible than many of her novels.

Virginia Woolf's Study, from The Guardian Books website.

Anyway, the title of my post today has more to do with that essential element of a writer’s life: the space where they can do the actual writing.  I have nothing but admiration for those writers (Jane Austen, for instance) who manage to write in the family room, a constant victim of interruptions and misplaced curiosity.  For myself, I completely understand Virginia’s statement:

‘It is necessary to have five hundred a year and a room with a lock on the door if you are to write fiction or poetry.’

Except in my case it would probably be a treehouse as far away from friends, family and telephone as possible.  And an income that has kept pace with inflation would be nice too.

I have to admit that I suffer from a particularly pernicious form of property porn addiction.  I can spend hours, both online and off,  visiting writers’ homes and studies, soaking up the atmosphere, touching the desk at which they wrote their masterpieces… As if some detail of that place of creativity, some ritual or talisman that I could replicate in my own abode would make my imagination well up and my writing improve in leaps and bounds? Does genius rub off on those who contemplate it?

Toibin study
Colm Toibin's study, from The Guardian Books website

Alas, no, it just keeps me away from completing my novel and thus displaying any traces of genius at all.  However, if you too are prone to office envy, here are some gorgeous website where you can indulge (the photos are from these websites, thank you and hope I haven’t broken too many copyright issues if I refer you back to them):

The Guardian has a series dedicated to writers’ studies. Here is another favourite I keep handy in the My Pictures folder:

Francesca Simon's Study, The Guardian Books website.

And photographer Michael Mundy has a wonderful series dedicated to writers, artists, designers and other creative people, entitled ‘An Afternoon With…’

Ruth Marten, artist, illustrator. From http://anafternoonwith.com

After studying these websites in detail (and visiting writer’s memorial homes, reading countless home decoration magazines, oooh, yes, I do my research thoroughly!), I have found my favourite writers’ rooms have the following in common:

1) They are large, airy, light spaces, with lots of windows – which may be inspiring, but also distracting.

2) Large desks, crammed full of  laptops, mementoes, writing blocks, pens, stationery – sometimes I wonder if we become writers just because we love stationery so much.

3) Lots of books and bookshelves, sometimes carefully arranged by subject and publisher, sometimes higgledy piggledy.  Will the writers of tomorrow have a more minimalistic space with a few choice gadgets e-Readers, iPads?

4) Practicality and functionality trump aesthetics and value – sentimental value seems to matter more than antiques, IKEA rather than design

So now, here is my dilemma in our new rental accommodation.

Mikael Kennedy, artist. From http://anafternoonwith.com

What can be done with a narrow study leading just off the open-plan kitchen/diner/living room?  Width just 1.5 m, length just 3.20m, neutral white, just one window facing south towards the garden (some distraction from next-door neighbours, who are building an extension), no lock on door.  My old desk doesn’t fit, the filing cabinet must fit, no bookshelves yet (but IKEA here we come), the study also has to accommodate my business books, training courses and articles collected over many years, my accounting and other paperwork (for me and the family), plus  my husband’s endless collection of cables, CDs and other gadgetry.

I know I should be grateful that I have a space of my own at all, and I certainly look forward to actually ‘owning’ it, after two weeks of writing in bed, on the dining table, on my lap on the sofa and so on.  In the meantime, I seek solace in those beautiful, inspirational rooms that seem to recede further and further away the more I grow up (and old).