Space, the Writing Frontier

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.

office-messy-desk

No, this is NOT my actual study… but if you changed the color of the chair and removed the vase (with flowers) — this is about how mine looks.

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?

Don’t answer…

Oh, before you go… has anyone seen my maps of Verdeville TN?

Question:

What is YOUR writing space like?

[JLS # 298]

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About jeff7salter

Currently writing romantic comedy, screwball comedy, and romantic suspense. Twelve completed novels and five completed novellas. Working with three royalty publishers: Clean Reads, Dingbat Publishing, & TouchPoint Press/Romance. "Size Matters" -- Oct. 2016 "The Duchess of Earl" -- Jul. 2016 "Stuck on Cloud Eight" -- Nov. 2015, "Pleased to Meet Me" (novella) -- Oct. 2015, "One Simple Favor" (novella) -- May 2015, "The Ghostess & MISTER Muir" -- Oct. 2014, "Scratching the Seven-Month Itch" -- Sept. 2014, "Hid Wounded Reb" -- Aug. 2014, "Don't Bet On It" (novella) -- April 2014, "Curing the Uncommon Man-Cold -- Dec. 2013, "Echo Taps" (novella) -- June 2013, "Called To Arms Again" -- (a tribute to the greatest generation) -- May 2013, "Rescued By That New Guy in Town" -- Oct. 2012, "The Overnighter's Secrets" -- May 2012. Co-authored two non-fiction books about librarianship (with a royalty publisher), a chapter in another book, and an article in a specialty encyclopedia. Plus several library-related articles and reviews. Also published some 120 poems, about 150 bylined newspaper articles, and some 100 bylined photos. Worked about 30 years in librarianship. Formerly newspaper editor and photo-journalist. Decorated veteran of U.S. Air Force (including a remote ‘tour’ of duty in the Arctic … at Thule AB in N.W. Greenland). Married; father of two; grandfather of six.
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16 Responses to Space, the Writing Frontier

  1. jbrayweber says:

    Goodness! I hope your office doesn’t have empty Peeps packages. And can you even get rolodexs like that anymore? I won’t even mention that ancient tube television. Oops…too late.

    I have a very nice set up in my office. It’s supposed to be a fourth bedroom but it sits over the garage. Every time the garage door opens the room rumbles. Plus it has two outside walls, a foyer wall, and the only real insulated wall has plumbing. In other words, it can be noisy and either real warm or real cold. But it’s perfect for my office. Awesome desk with attached bookcases. Two more bookshelves, a couch, and an end table complete the room. As much as I adore this room, I don’t do the majority of my writing here. Business, yes. Editing, yes. But writing, not so much. I do better away from my office and the distractions I get in there, namely the internet. Or sometimes household chores. I love writing outdoors like the park or the beach. However most times I write with accountability partners either at a Starbucks or at someone else’s home (Stacey).

    Great post, Jeff.

    Liked by 2 people

    • jeff7salter says:

      Jenn, I can definitely see the good and bad of your office space — noise, vibrations, temperature variation. I still marvel that you can transport yourself to other locales and screen out the distractions there. I’ve not yet tried writing “with” someone — wonderful that you have Stacey and others. I think I would be too tempted to chat… and might not get the writing done.

      Like

      • jbrayweber says:

        Oh, we chat. We chat like we haven’t seen each other 24 hours ago. But it’s great to have someone to bounce ideas off of or ask how something sounds after it’s been written. Brainstorming and general writing questions are a given. We do get lots of work done together.

        As far as places like Starbuck or any place public, I keep my iPod handy with the perfect soundtrack music (all instrumental) to help tune out noise and distractions.

        Liked by 1 person

      • jeff7salter says:

        one more thing I cannot do — write with music distracting me

        Like

  2. Patricia Kiyono says:

    I enjoy being able to take my writing elsewhere. I never know what might inspire me, and I if I try to write it down on a pad of paper or napkin or my hand, it won’t be there when I get back to my computer. Like Jenn, I enjoy writing with other people. When I’m tempted to get off task, I see other people working hard and I tend to get back to work. And when I have something in my plot that needs brainstorming, it’s nice to have someone handy. Another nice thing about writing in different places – I HAVE to clean up after myself! When I write at the kitchen table, I need to clear away my stuff to make room for dinner. In a coffee shop or at a friend’s house I can’t leave things lying around when I leave.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Note, I can do anywhere.I used to be more flexible. More on mine tomorrow.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. How do you find the MMs?

    I am sure if I had an office to write in it would probably be as cluttered as yours. Though I have a teenage girl who loves to clean so she would probably sneak in to organize it.

    Liked by 2 people

    • jeff7salter says:

      I wish I could afford clerical help. A lot of what I do is routine & time-consuming — not creative in itself, but in support of my writing and promotion.

      Like

  5. Mine sounds a lot like yours. I have a map of Reven, my fictional world, somewhere, but I haven’t seen it for years. I would love to clean this place, but that’s an awful lot of trouble.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. That photo has made me laugh, Jeff – or perhaps cringe. That’s what my space looks like most of the time, too 😀

    Liked by 1 person

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