If you’re like me, you’ll be fascinated by other writers’ work spaces. From Dylan Thomas’ boathouse to the station platform where Paul Simon composed ‘Homeward Bound,’ there’s something inspiring about seeing where the act of creation actually takes place. And with that in mind, I thought you might like to take a peek at my current set-up.
My work station occupies one corner of the living room. The sofa is just out of shot to the left of the picture, which means instead of being hidden away in an office, I’m now right at the heart of family life. This means more distractions, but it also feels less anti-social. And as a single parent now, I can’t hide away all the time; I need to be available. Plus, I get to see the daylight, which I didn’t when I was in the office at the back of the house, so I don’t feel so much like some kind of troglodyte hermit.
I’ve had the desk for around forty years. My father bought it secondhand from an office supply company when I needed something on which to do my homework. It’s sturdy and has plenty of drawers for storing pens and stationery, and other odds and ends.
When my old computer gave up the ghost, I invested the money I received from the government’s self-employment income support scheme in a new iMac with a 27 inch screen. I also have an old iPhone 8, which means I can seamlessly work on notes and documents on both my phone and desktop, making it easy to write and work on ideas while on the go. It also means I can respond to texts and WhatsApp messages on my desktop as well as my phone. I use a cheap PC mouse because Apple’s Magic Mouse is too small for my large hands and causes cramp. Plus, I like an old fashioned scroll wheel.
I bought the microphone at the beginning of lockdown, when I was doing a lot of Zoom calls, online readings and virtual conventions. It cuts down the echoey effect of recording in a large open room, and its noise-cancellation screens out background noise.
I keep my previous books on the shelf behind my main monitor to remind me that however stuck I get with my current project, I have written before and I will write again. I keep my two BSFA Awards in the cabinet on the right for the same reason, and to remind me that I should ignore my imposter syndrome because it seems some people actually like what I write.
Other items of interest you might spot:
- Cup of tea. The mug was given to me by the organisers of BristolCon. The tea inside is essential for stimulating tired synapses.
- Millennium Falcon. Because I’m a huge nerd.
- Bullet journal and main notebook to the right of the monitor stand for easy access.
- Locus magazine. That’s the issue that contains an interview with me, and has my name on the cover. I keep it handy for the same reason as the awards, to help counteract my imposter syndrome.
- Cardboard boxes containing canvas prints of my paintings.
The one item not pictured is my work chair. I bought it from Ikea. It’s a swivel office chair, but it has good adjustable back support and a headrest. Sitting down for long periods is disastrous for your health, so you need a chair that’s going to mitigate as much damage as possible, and as you get older, back support becomes more and more essential.
I hope you enjoyed this insight into my work environment. Feel free to tell us about your set-up in the comments.
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