Sunday, January 08, 2012

The Write Space

I am looking forward to a productive season of writing. The winter allows more time for storytelling and editing.  You might be surprised to learn that I work from a windowless room in the basement−by choice!

Last spring I was dragging my laptop all over the house, not settling into any one spot to do my writing. My office was not working out. The view outside my window distracted me. A squirrel or rabbit would sit on its haunches watching me type and before I knew it, I was watching it.

Mother birds fed their babies in the small sheltered area of the garden. Their feathered bodies bobbing up and down. They seemed close enough for me to reach out and touch them. It was an invasion of their privacy, I knew, but I was unable to look away.

Baby rabbits ventured from beneath the blue spruce and scuttled across the mulch. I laughed over the brazen behaviour of one rabbit that stood nibbling on our burning bush shrub, all the while calmly staring me down.

Each morning I spied some form of wildlife perched on a smooth boulder outside my window. Squirrels cleaned themselves; mice circled the natural outlook before scrambling to the top and down the other side. The brilliance of the blue jays and cardinals were the biggest distraction.
They all liked to visit this boulder that appeared to be out of sight in the sheltered area surrounded by shrubs. During the early morning hours, when I feel most productive, the activities outside my window were too absorbing to ignore.

Marv suggested I clear off my old desk in the storage room and work there. Initially I thought it was a crazy idea. You are probably thinking the same thing. Imagining a room the size of a closet. Actually, it is a large room.

I was more concerned with the logic of leaving a perfectly good office to write in a storage room in the basement. Since my husband has been known to come up with some pretty good ideas, I gave him the benefit of the doubt. I checked it out.

Shelves and cardboard boxes were crammed with unused household stuff. Plastic bins filled with wool and discarded knitting projects, lined the walls. Christmas decorations, dust-laden workout equipment, camping equipment, and a stockpile of baby paraphernalia− in the hopes of another grandchild− surrounded the perimeter of the brightly lit room. It is, afterall, a storage room.
My husband was right about one thing though. With the door closed, all distractions disappear. There is no window, no ringing telephone, no screeching cat, or whining dog.

After careful consideration, I packed up the clutter from the room-with-a-view and headed back downstairs clutching important papers and snippets of cannot lose notes.

I eyed the old desk in the corner of the room before clearing a small space for my laptop. I swiped at some dust and tossed errant screws and nails into a plastic cup. I typed a few words and then studied my surroundings.

Occupying my desk space were a brand new pair of men’s work boots, an old computer monitor, several large puzzle pieces, a twelve inch roll of string, two sewing kits, a sewing machine, fabric, a huge bag of is a large desk.

I also had two framed photos. Well, actually three. One is a picture of my son, Brodie. Years ago I put it in a leather frame. It is a self-portrait standing on the roof of his Toronto apartment building, the traffic of a downtown street visible far below. His intense blue eyes and solemn expression capture me. The picture, having been juggled from mantle to end table and back again, eventually found its way to the desk.

It was rather eerie that by chance, perfectly positioned on either side of my computer, sat pictures of my mother and my grandmother. The woman in each picture regarding me with an amused grin. Well, my mother is wearing more of a smile in her picture, while my grandmother looks like she is trying hard not to, in the other. I left the pictures there. And Brodie’s picture−I left it there, too. His stare challenges me to write something significant.
The sewing machine, boots, fabric, and other things, have been removed. Reference books and journals occupy much of the desk now. The odd pair of earrings or empty coffee mug. And, of course, the pictures.
Cocooned by old memories and treasures, I remain. The room is silent. I like it.


  1. A little belated happy New Year's Phyllis, looks like your new writing room is working well, I really enjoyed your story on CommuterLit this week. Actually, I'm just hoping to be flirting like Pearl when I'm her age!

  2. Thanks for reading my story, Celynne. CommuterLit is a great site, isn't it. The Affairs of Pearl Peacock was fun to write. Glad you enjoyed it.