Well, Actually… Writing About “Writing Space” Itself
By Jeff Salter
Confused yet? I thought the headline would be catchy, but we’re actually writing this week about the space in which we write.
Let me begin by stating my admiration for those of you – and there are many – who write in vehicles, on plank bleachers, at bus stops, on breaks, in coffee shops, etc. I can’t do that. Too much distraction. I have spent my share of time at kitchen tables or counters, but I’ve been more fortunate than most (in usually having some designated space for my writing).
When I was a high school junior, I bought (with my own hard-earned money) a portable electric typewriter which went everywhere with me for some 15 years. Whatever surface I could fit it on was where I “wrote” (whatever I was writing at the time).
In my six years (civilian and military) as a photo-journalist and editor, working on half a dozen newspapers or newsletters, I always had a desk and some sort of typing machine. I did my work-work there and occasionally fit in a bit of creative writing to boot.
In my 28.5 yrs as a library administrator (small system and large system), I was very fortunate to have my own office. For a sizeable chunk of that time, I would go in to the office on Saturdays to write my household checks and work on my creative projects.
That brings me to my 10 years (so far) of retirement.
In the farm house, where we lived for about 15 months, I had a tiny corner of the dining room — where a small, low table held my laptop. I wrote most of my first two novels there. Later we purchased a small workstation (which we setup on the second floor at the top of the stairs) and that was when we got my first desktop PC — a Dell.
When we began building our house, up the hill from the farm house, chief among my (relatively few) minimum requirements was a room downstairs for my militaria collection and a space upstairs for my study / office.
I no longer remember the exact dimensions, but let’s call it 9 X 16 feet (which I predicted was PLENTY of space). We equipped it with a new workstation (with matching credenza), two new bookshelves, two old shelves which my dad had gotten from his sister Isabel, two new filing cabinets, and an old (low) bookshelf we acquired in 1971. I’ve since added a footlocker to store manuscripts in. When I first moved in, my study seemed to have lots of room — so much that I even had a rocking chair to sit in while I read or proofread stuff.
The rocker didn’t last very long, because clutter soon began creeping upon me from every corner of the room. What had once been over 144 square feet of space eventually devolved into hardly more than a narrow pathway to my workstation.
Think I’m kidding?
Want to know how bad it has become?
For my fictional town of Verdeville, in fictional Greene County TN, I created some half dozen detailed maps of downtown, neighborhoods, and surrounding areas. Eleven of my 17 completed titles are set in this town/county, but I haven’t seen those maps in a couple of years. They must be under something or inside something, but I’ve had no luck finding them.
I’m certainly not boasting about having clutter in my office. Fact is, it would take perhaps a full week of non-stop organizing to get my writing study back in proper order. But I’ve never found that week to be available. With the nearly dozen active stories I’m working on – including a brand new one I just began on Monday this week – and well over a hundred other stories (well along, but temporarily inactive), not to mention many dozens of other undeveloped concepts… how can I possibly screech to a writing halt, just to tidy up?
Oh, before you go… has anyone seen my maps of Verdeville TN?
What is YOUR writing space like?
[JLS # 298]