Where I Write: my tiny cluttered office
I’ll start with a confession. I was going to lie to you in this blog post. I was going to tell you things that just aren’t true about my writing. Here’s the gist of what I was going to say –
There is no place to write. Writing can be done anywhere and at any time – that’s the beauty of it. All you need is your imagination!
Then I suppose I would have sprinkled some pixie dust on the page, jumped on the back of my unicorn and rode into the lobby of the Scottish Book Trust HQ to deliver it by hand.
Let me be clear – I do not doubt it is the case that some people can write anywhere and when I started writing this I really honestly believed that was the case for me. However as I started thinking properly about it, I realised that it was a pleasant, but absurd, fictional version of my life I was presenting to you. There are, in fact, many places and times I can’t write. I’m a fussy big chap as it turns out.
For example I can’t do it on a rollercoaster or whilst I’m churning butter. I’m no good when asleep and I rarely get much done in the dentist’s chair. I can’t write on trains or buses, or whilst riding a bicycle. I am not creative in cafes (unless you count 50,000 different answers to the question “What are you writing?” – I suggest saying “I’m writing an article about nosy people in cafes”).
I can’t write in a room that contains a spider unless it’s a letter to the police asking them to come and arrest the spider.
If you are wondering, Trespassing is the crime that I would be seeking a prosecution for and be warned - if you should come into my house and try to build your own rubbish, stringy house in the corner of my office then I WILL report you to the proper authorities (or, depending on your size, pop a glass over you and chuck you into the back garden).
I am so far from what I thought I was 15 minutes ago. I thought I could write anywhere under any circumstances but in fact I need conditions to be just right.
I write in my tiny cluttered office which has two desks. One is for me to write at whilst the other is for my wife to work at (she has a proper job). This is where I write.
The conditions are as follows - It has to be late. The later the better – ideally everyone is asleep. Headphones are on, appropriate music selected and the volume down low. I am warm and comfortable. My oversized Back to the Future jumper is ideal. I have monster feet slippers and an old soft leather chair which also help with this. I will have had a thought or made a note of something during the day in my illegible writing. I listen to the music and stare at the comfortingly terrible wallpaper pattern I’ve been meaning to remove since we moved in. “I’ll need one of those scraper things” I’ll think. “Is it just called a scraper? I can’t ask the man for a scraper if it’s got a proper name as he’ll know I’m not one of the proper men.”
I continue to stare.
“He’ll know anyway.”
By this stage my mind is suitably distracted, allowing it to drift off into a scenario involving my characters and I can then begin.