Archive | Writing Spaces

A Room Of Her Own: The Writing Space of Joshilyn Jackson

Today’s post by this month’s featured author, Joshilyn Jackson | @JoshilynJackson


My office is a converted sun porch off the back of our painted brick 50’s bungalow. It is all windows on two sides. We live right by a bird sanctuary; the yard is rife with the feathery little boogers. I put a feeder on the window just above Mango—my main personal assistant, mostly in charge of yacking hairballs directly into my printer—and all day long I have wrens and finches and even a few cardinals pertly sitting just above his cat basket.

mango at the bird box

I like to work with animals around me. My husband says the number of animals I need to be happy is best represented by X + 1, where X is the number of animals I have now. Currently X is three, and I am in the market for a tuxedo kitten. If we don’t find the right kitten, my back up plan to is to agitate for a Ball Python, a breed of snake known for being docile and amenable to being handled. If I get one, I am going to name him Sippy Cups.

The truth is, I need a bunch of little heartbeats in the house or I get very low, very fast. I am more an extrovert than most writers, and my job means a lot of alone time.

room of her own books

On the floor, you can see my secondary assistant, Ansley. She’s in charge of making pig noises and being anxious. Behind me is a futon, where Bagel-Dog, my tertiary assistant in charge of snoozing does his work, and floor to ceiling bookshelves holding the books I love enough to keep. I took a picture of one random section piece of my shelves because I love peeping other people’s book shelves and figured you might, too.

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A Room Of Her Own: The Writing Space of Jojo Moyes

Today’s photos from this month’s featured author, Jojo Moyes | @JojoMoyes

Moyes Writing Space Collage

I have to admit that I love getting a peek inside the writing rooms of my favorite authors. It’s often equal parts inspiring (that’s where she wrote the book!) and comforting (she hasn’t taken out the trash either!). But mostly I love to see what books they’re reading and the odds and ends they surround themselves with in their most creative moments.

What I love about Jojo Moyes’ writing space: the books (of course), the big comfy chair, and the view.

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A Room Of Her Own: The Writing Space of Kathleen Tessaro


Kathleen says: “As a lap top user, I roam all over the house. Here I am, making the most of the summer!”

What we love about this room: the windows, the hydrangeas, and of course the Mac! All in all this looks like the perfect place to create.

Question: is there a special place that you love to write? What gets you in the groove?

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A Room Of Her Own: The Writing Space of Susanna Kearsley

Today’s post by this month’s featured author, Susanna Kearsley  | @SusannaKearsley

If you look at the actual blueprint for our house, there’s a room marked “Dining Room “, set quite conveniently between the kitchen and the formal living room, with glass French doors and lots of light. Except it never got the chance to be a dining room. As soon as we moved in, I filled one wall with my Ikea Billy bookcases and claimed it as my writing room.

Here’s what it looked like, then:

Kearsley 1

It’s changed a bit, in the twelve years that we’ve been living here. The bookshelves, for one thing, are noticeably fuller—most of the shelves are stacked two deep, with books behind books, and I keep buying more.

Kearsley 2

My mother-in-law, a skilled seamstress, made me beautiful curtains for the window, and my parents gave me the comfortable wing chair I’d always loved best from their house. The desk in the photo got passed on to a friend, and was replaced by the antique oak table my dad always used as his desk in our various houses, when I was growing up. And we painted the walls a soft yellow that glows warmly gold when I’m writing at night.

It’s really a lovely room, and it’s a great place to write, but the truth is that most days it’s also Incredibly Messy. I try to keep up with the clutter, but when I’m at work on a book, it just Happens.

I couldn’t help but smile recently when someone tweeted the link to a Victorian-era book of etiquette by Eliza Leslie titled “Miss Leslie’s Behaviour Book “, which in a chapter on how to behave when meeting an “authoress ” warns: “If, when admitted into her study, you should find her writing-table in what appears to you like great confusion “, it’s best not to comment on the mess. “In all probability, she knows precisely where to put her hand upon every paper on the table: having in reality arranged them exactly to suit her convenience. Though their arrangement may be quite unintelligible to the uninitiated, there is no doubt method (her own method, at least) in their apparent disorder. It is not likely she may have time to put her writing table in nice-looking order every day. ”

Those words are just as true today, I think, as they were then. So in the interest of authenticity, instead of cleaning up the evidence and giving you the Better Homes and Gardens version of my writing room, I thought I’d show you what it actually looks like this morning, complete with a few days’ accumulation of coffee cups (I have a weakness for Starbucks Skinny Cinnamon Dolce lattes). It looks a bit chaotic, but I do indeed know where each paper is, and what it’s there for, as the good Miss Leslie says, and it’s decidedly my space, the room of my own where my stories take shape.

Kearsley 3

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A Room Of His Own – The Writing Space of Michael Morris

Sometimes the most inauspicious locations produce the most compelling books. Or so I like to believe, at any rate. Maybe it’s because I think stories can begin anywhere: at the end of a country road, the trunk of a car, down the barrel of a gun, or a corner booth in a forgotten bar. So it makes sense to me that they can be written anywhere as well.

Michael Morris, for instance, prefers to hide away from the distractions of home in a cubicle at the Birmingham Public Library. Seems perfect. Writing a story while surrounded by them.

Michael’s novel,  MAN IN THE BLUE MOON,  is our November book club selection. We’ll be discussing it all day Friday with our online book club. Do join us! We’d love to hear your thoughts!

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A Room Of Her Own – The Writing Space of Sarah Jio

Today’s post by this month’s featured author, Sarah Jio | @SarahJio

I fell in love with houseboats after seeing “Sleepless in Seattle ” so many years ago, and after I got married in 2001, my husband and I settled in Seattle. We thought about buying a houseboat, but for one reason or another, it never worked out, and we ended up purchasing a traditional home (i.e., one with a foundation). But, years later—and now with three boys under the age of six—I never gave up on the houseboat dream, even if it still seemed a tad impractical and out of reach. When compiling ideas for my fifth novel, which I recently sold to my editor at Penguin, I knew exactly where I wanted the book to be set. Any guesses? Yes, on a Seattle houseboat.

For research, I figured I’d interview houseboat residents, read up on the lifestyle, and if I was lucky, maybe rent one for a night. But then, my husband made a very generous suggestion. He said, “Why don’t you rent a houseboat for a few months as your office? ” At first I refused. It seemed like a crazy-extravagant expense, especially when I’d hardly be able to sneak out everyday to write (remember, the kids)! But, I began to think about it, and he had a point: What better way for me to really soak up the houseboat lifestyle than to have one all to myself—to be able to pop over during the weekend and write a chapter, or stay up late and edit while stealing glances at the sparkling water with the moon shining above. I caved and said yes.

We ended up finding the most charming little houseboat on the east side of Lake Union and signed a four-month lease (which means I’ll be able to see three seasons on the houseboat: summer, fall and winter, since we have through New Year’s). It has a loft bedroom with a porthole window (accessed by the quaint ship’s ladder), a charming little kitchen stocked with all the essentials, a rooftop deck with a breathtaking view of the city and the Space Needle, a pair of kayaks, and, two resident mallard ducks who waddle past my deck every day.

I wrote the first two chapters of this new novel recently, and I already feel such a connection to the characters and the setting. As I type this on my laptop, I’m sitting on the sofa that looks out at the lake. A gentle wake from a boat is lapping up against the side of the houseboat, and the sunset is a golden-purple hue. It’s about as good as it gets!

Stay tuned for details about the new novel, (including the title!), in months to come. For now, I can say that it will debut most likely in the late fall or winter of 2013.

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A Room Of Her Own – The Writing Space of Mia March

The Writing Space of Mia March

How I love this desk—a six feet tall secretary that I’ve had since 2002, the year my son was born. The actual desk part is very narrow—just fits my small laptop and ever present mug of Earl Grey tea, but it’s my favorite place to write. I like glancing up from writing when I’m stuck in a scene and seeing all my treasures—pictures of my son, a mug he made me at the “paint your own pottery ” place, my novel, The Meryl Streep Movie Club, in the North American and U.K. editions, a stack of books that always help me if I need inspiration: stories and essays by Pam Houston and two writing books, Bird By Bird by Anne Lamott and On Writing by Stephen King. I have a couple of pretty little lamps and a very tall tin cat that for some reason spurs my creativity. This desk is wedged between the wall next to a window and my couch in my living room. I could make a separate office out of a big spare area in my laundry room, but I love my living room and feel happiest and most inspired in that room, so it’s where I write.

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A Room Of Her Own — The Writing Space of Claire Cook

Today’s post by this month’s featured author, Claire Cook | ClaireCookWrite

My husband and I sold our 1890 Victorian in a little beach town on the coast between Boston and Cape Cod and decided to move to suburban Atlanta to be closer to family. So this is my temporary writing space, tucked into a corner of the master bedroom in the house we’re now renovating, the only room not stacked to the ceiling with boxes. When I stare out the window, I can almost imagine the chaos behind me doesn’t exist. I even wrote some of my next novel without doors, with a house full of carpenters and electricians and plumbers coming in and out and telling me about the book they’re going to write one day! I can’t believe I finished it, but I did. My tenth novel is called Time Flies, and will be published by Touchstone in June 2013.

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Writing Gypsy – The Writing Space(s) of Kimberly Brock

Today’s post by this month’s featured author, Kimberly Brock | @kimberlydbrock

Photo courtesy of stock.xchng

Over the years, the space where I’ve written has changed through moves and travels and motherhood and so when I considered the topic for this blog, I was puzzled. I’ve watched as other authors posted beautiful photographs of serene spots, antique desks in front of windows that overlook rolling hills or sparkling lakes. Neat bookshelves typically stood nearby, steaming cups of coffee or delicate cups of tea perch on pretty, linen napkins, a sharpened pencil or two stands in a piece of glossy pottery, fluttering curtains let in a sweet breeze of inspiration.

I would look at these images and sigh. I would say to my husband, “Look at this. Look, she has a desk. She has a space of her own. Isn’t there some famous quote about that? See, she’s a real writer. I covet my neighbor’s writing space. That must be against some commandment. Something must be wrong with me. ”

“You’re a writing gypsy, ” he’d say and shrug.

“Doomed to wander the earth. ” I’d picture myself with a knapsack thrown over my shoulder, living out of a boxcar with only my laptop, a Tall Starbucks, and three ratty children with no shoes existing solely on fast food because I couldn’t provide a proper home and complete my novel at the same time. “I’ll never finish this book. ”

And I admit the truth is I’m standing at my kitchen counter while writing this. My coffee pot is directly in front of me for easy access. My four-year-old is watching cartoons (loud ones) and my husband is on a business call outside on the patio. (He’s had a shower. I have not.) The new puppy can see him through the kitchen door and is barking madly. My older two children are about the business of making microwave oatmeal, slamming cabinets and arguing about how much water to use. Ah, the writer’s life. You see, the truth is, I don’t have a writing space. In fact, now that I think about, I have never had a room of my own. I shared with my sister growing up. I shared with roommates in college. Now I share with my husband.

But before this starts to sound like I’m grumbling, let me clarify. While I have no writing space, I have a writer’s life to envy. Here’s what I mean.

While I was working on The River Witch, I often woke at three a.m. to find I was writing in my dreams and I watched my husband sleeping and knew my characters would embody love. I wrote one-handed while nursing babies and knew my story would reflect upon life and cycles, fear and innocence and miracles. I wrote on napkins in the preschool carpool line. I wrote by the pool in the summer. I wrote by the fire in winter and lying underneath the glow of the Christmas tree and looking out a window high above Time Square. I knew the book would be full of nostalgia and the unknown. I wrote while watching a north Georgia snowstorm and in the floor of the bathroom while my child was sick. I wrote on the back of a bulletin in church. I wrote in the bathtub and in the bed and in the closet and in the kitchen. I wrote in the parking lot at Target. I wrote in a miniscule hotel room in Paris. I wrote on a plane. I wrote looking over the San Francisco skyline. I wrote while I was in labor. I wrote on a south Florida island while drinking Sangria with a dear friend who gave me music and shells and water and let me drive her boat really fast. I wrote on the ride home from my grandmother’s funeral. I wrote with my fifteen-year-old terrier in my lap the day before he became a sweet memory. I knew the book would be wistful and harsh and full of hope. I wrote in conference centers full of eager, anxious writers. I wrote after long days at Disney World. I wrote while the battery in my car secretly died. I wrote while the sun came up in Hawaii. I wrote while the jarflies sang in the north Georgia twilight.

And one day, without a single space to call my own, I finished it.

And it’s true the book is full of all the things I’d hoped. And feared. It’s all in there. I don’t think I could have ever written it from a little desk, tucked into a neat corner, with complete peace and quiet, or gazing out a wide window at the sea, which would have only distracted me. Because, apparently I’m just not that kind of literary genius. I need chaos and color and flashing views through train windows, not a soft cushion or good light. I need someone pulling on my arm for more juice and dinner burning on the stove and piles of laundry moldering in the washing machine. I need to be jotting things down on old napkins at red lights, with the out-of-gas light blinking at me, living on the edge with a car full of melting groceries.

And now that I really take the time to consider it, I suppose I am a writing gypsy. It works for me.

Recently, a dear friend traveled to Key West where she visited Hemingway’s house and was invited to sit at his writing desk. Reverently, she placed her sweet fingertips on the keys of his typewriter. I can’t imagine the awe she must have felt in that moment. I shared the pictures she sent back on Facebook and was delighted for her. I thought of my own visit to the Margaret Mitchell House and how I’d gazed at her things in those small rooms. It made me think about this blog again and grumble about having to come up with an answer.

“When I die, ” I said to my husband, “will you set up a desk for people to come visit and will you lie for me? Do you love me enough to pretend I was normal? You’ll have to put a pretty tea cup out with sharpened pencils and make it look like I was wise and intellectual. And tell everybody I washed my hair every day before I sat down to write with the light falling beautifully across my furrowed brow? ”

He kissed me and promised. I married the right guy.

And now, I’m off to tie my handkerchief round my head and don my enormous, gold hoop earrings and thousands of bangle bracelets. Oh, and fix up a pitcher of Kool-Aid.

But if it makes you feel better, here’s a shot of my fake writing space.

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