Where I Write: A cupboard with a view

Category: Writing

 I did think about tidying up my 'study' (my pretentious word for my 'cupboard with window') for a photograph, but since there's the chance I might get rumbled by someone who knows what it actually looks like, I thought I'd better keep it in its natural state.

I take after my father who has never had a tidy study, at least in my lifetime. It's not that I enjoy being surrounded by clutter, but sometimes it is comforting to have something strange and interesting to rest your eyes on when you hit a writing wall. I like the fact that my desk looks right across the street, Rear Window-style, into the neighbours' flats. Logged sights include someone in full forensics gear doing the hoovering and a cat that looked suspiciously like an owl in disguise.

But it's actually a bit of a fib that this is where I write, because I write in lots of places - both in my flat and out. Sometimes I want the concentration of being perched over a desk mired in my own junk; sometimes I like to be a bit more comfortable, curl my feet up on the sofa, pretend what I'm looking at is a real book, that sort of thing.

I like the library - watching other people work tends to guilt-trip me into being productive - and I love writing in cafes. But writing in cafes (especially in Edinburgh) has its hazards. There's always the threat of being ambushed by someone you vaguely know with the words, 'Ooooooh, is this you trying to do a JK Rowling?' Then there's the electrics issue for me. I have an old laptop with a gammy battery and often find myself crammed into the smallest, stickiest corner table, usually en route to the loos, where lies the cafe's only plug socket.

But there are hazards wherever you write. Late last year I was writing on a flight back from Madrid, mad into a story I'd begun that afternoon. Because of its (um...) risqué subject matter I was trying to be discreet with my scribbling, mainly for the benefit of the lady sitting next to me; a stern looking woman reading a hard-backed book whose dust-jacket read La Historia de Roma. When I'd finished writing, I sat back and my eyes happened to fall on the top line of her open page. Now my Spanish isn't great but I don't think you need to be bilingual to figure out what 50 Sombras de Grey translates as.

So there may be hazards when it comes to writing in public, but they apparently apply to reading in public too. 

Lucy Ribchester

Lucy received a New Writers Award in 2013 and she is currently working on her first novel, The Hourglass Factory, a murder mystery set in 1912 suffragette London. You can find her on twitter @lucyribchester.