Reclaiming my territory
Today is blog-day for me at Austen Authors. Those of us who wish to our talking about our writing spaces. In my case I am blessed with a wonderful office so it was fun to write about it. I posted a truncated version over there but here I can delve deeper into the specifics and details of my special room while adding as many images as I want!
I have often said that I am thankful I did not seriously start writing until my kids were older. There are many reasons why I feel this way, one being that I ended up with lots of room to create my writer’s space. Now I have a whole office to sprawl out in plus my corner of the living room. Life is good! It took some time to get to this though. I needed to reclaim the territory that was mine according to the name on the mortgage!
I began writing on the kids’ desktop computer in the game room. After months of sad looks from my son I gave in and bought a laptop. My Toshiba sat next to my leather recliner for a year before it finally got a space on the small desk I stuffed into one corner of my bedroom. For another year this area sufficed until one day it suddenly dawned on me that there was something wrong in Denmark if I had to squeeze into the minuscule space of a chamber I shared with my husband while my son had not only his own bedroom but also the “game/computer” room that was all his since my daughter exclusively used her laptop!
Major shifting and redecorating ensued with a wonderful office all my own the result. Kyle was actually happy to give up the game room because it meant the computer, XBox, PS3, and TV were all in his bedroom! How cool is it to play games while lying in bed? Pretty cool. And notice that I don’t mention “doing homework” in any of those sentences – but that is for another blog.
My office has gone through various transitions in the two years since I assumed residence. Most notably when my daughter moved out last year and I took over her room too! That room is now a library/scrapbooking/storage/guest room, leaving my office entirely dedicated to my writing. This is my desk area. And, yes, it is almost always this clean! Mess drives me insane. I wanted the widest desk I could fit in to the room. This one is from Cymax, is three-feet deep, wraps around both walls, and has two file cabinets. I have my corkboard with mementoes, important papers, all my passwords handy (don’t zoom in!), funny or inspirational messages, and whatever else I need smack in front of my face.
The BIG calendar is a must. The stack of books are those I am using currently for research (India, the British East India Co, and historical medicine). I still have a laptop (a MacBookPro now) but prefer to work on my über-cool iMac where I can have a dozen screens open at once. Sweet! I like a few pretty things around me (I don’t just mean the plant) as well as the frequent essentials like the stapler, tape, lotion, and Iomega backup drive (never enough backup!).
Behind my chair are two book cases jammed with knick-knacks lying atop doilies crocheted by my mother, and to the left of my desk are more shelves to house my treasures. Naturally all my books are on prominently on display! As you can see, I am running out of room and the plant is taking over.
Each item has a story. Most were either gifted from a fan, a dear friend, or family. Others were picked up for a specific reason or serve a particular purpose. In the images below I will hit on the highlights, starting with the shelves where my novels sit on nice stands from Michaels. The bell is from Bahrain, a gift from my daughter’s fiancé Neil. The ornaments were made by my pal Carrie Flores for Jane Austen’s birthday celebration last year. The pink ribbon adorned the fancy box of a gift Carrie gave me when we launched the Fresno Area Regency England Fellowship, that gift the friendship angels seen in the second photo below.
Behind the angels are two of my scrapbooks devoted to my publishing journey. Also on these shelves: the “Mrs. Darcy” mug from fan Pat, the Victorian collar wrap made by friends Victoria and Emily, the “Two Shall Become One” parasol made at Disneyland by my husband, the boxes filled with cards sent by readers/friends, and the Matthew Macfadyen calendar created by fan Jane.
In between are two shelves with more special gifts. The “dream” and “believe” were Christmas gifts from husband Steve this last year. The dish was painted by my daughter and contains lavender scented crystals. The framed picture of Matthew, the picture of my novels on a shelf, and the fragrant stuffed pillows are all from readers.
Moving on to the left case you see the Regency hat I won in an auction at the Beau Monde conference last year (along with a shawl), the masque from New Orleans that reminded me of the Masquerade Ball in my novels, the sketch by pal Seli, the JA Action Figure from friends Jeff and Robin, the playbill and Harrods lavender from Maggie who saw Matthew in London and got a photo with him! My various Austen/Regency books are between red heart bookends gifted for my birthday by my husband. The quilted wall hanging to the left is also a gift from a fan.
Finally, in the last shelf picture, there is a framed photo of my dad and step-mother Jackie, my dream books on England, some of the ARCs, the mug from Sisters in Crime when I spoke for them, and several more gifts including the wonderful books from my dearest friend Simone. On the desk is my rock fountain and the heart shaped box my daughter painted for me.
I mentioned the shelves to the left of my desk earlier and below is a picture of a portion of that wall. I keep special family photos here (two of my mom and several of my kids), a poem Emily wrote for me, our cat when a kitten, my niece, and our silhouettes done at Disneyland. Kind of crammed in there, I know! Knick-knacks like the vase were created by my children. The child-angel hung in my daughter’s room from the time she was a baby so is sort of my guardian angel I suppose, plus it matched the decor! The corkboard is for my storyboarding ideas (Can you guess what the big paper is from?) and, yes, the good looking dark haired man is my inspiration for a young Dr. George Darcy!
That is pretty much it. The closet is stuffed with copies of my books, more files with important papers, and all my Regency Era gowns and paraphernalia. My laptop is networked to my desktop and naturally the portable device is heavily used when traveling or when I want to be with the family. But I definitely prefer being alone in my secluded office. The bubbling of the rock fountain soothes my nerves, the ergo-chair supports my bones, and the artifacts of this journey inspire my mind. Can’t ask for anything more! OK, maybe a view of the ocean or evergreen forest, but I’ll take what I have with a big smile.