of my desk so that Instead of facing a blank southern wall, I'm facing west with windows on my right and the door to my left. I can't say that I noticed any increased writing speed, but I'm still writing regularly, so perhaps this orientation is helping with the creative flow. It is nice to be able to look outside."
Julia Cameron once commented that she and her former husband wrote at opposite ends of the house. I wondered whether a NINC couple shared their writing space, so I contacted Deni Dietz.
Deni, NINC member and Senior Editor at Five Star Mysteries, posted pictures of her writing office and favorite plotting space on her website at http://www.eclectics.com/denise/gallery.html. (A photo of Deni’s wedding at a NINC conference is also posted on the page.) Deni’s husband, author Gordon Aalborg (who also writes as Victoria Gordon), stated that he “would not share an office with my esteemed ‘Senior Editor’ wife under any circumstance whatsoever” although he did “promise Deni that if she would move to Canada and join me when I moved here from Australia in 2000, I would build her an office! With marriage (at the 2000 NINC convention in Vancouver) as a bonus, today-only offer! Knowing the real bait to lure in the hapless prey ... ROFL. But promises should be kept ... therefore when she did, I did, and the marriage is—dare I say it?—the better for having given her that office! And to her credit, it must be said, she has faithfully used that office almost daily and to excellent effect. However, the last time Deni's office was relatively uncluttered and in such shape that she could navigate it without a GPS unit was the day before she moved into it.” However, his office, “upstairs in the same quaint, geriatric cottage wherein we reside, was clean, pristine and uncluttered only on the day I finished building it... but I have never needed a GPS because my office is about half the size of Deni’s—a mere 8' x 11'. And I am a better organizer!
My office overlooks a staircase landing on one side and has a big window that is permanently covered by venetian blinds (and partly by reflective materials also) because it faces west and gets bloody awful hot on summer afternoons. Deni's office has windows on two sides and is nicely shaded by the overhang of the back deck.
“Both offices are vaguely similar, with built-in desks/counters on three sides in Deni’s office and two in mine, and corner ‘desktop’ portions with slide-under keyboard shelves. That was the best alternative I could come up with to provide lots of desk-top space for our desk-top computers and all the clutter of extensive home office junk. Of which there is a lot! Both offices have a multitude of shelf space, drawer units, storage boxes, crates, racks, counter space as required…
“Both offices, of course, have bookshelves up the wazoo, but never enough bookshelves, because it is impossible for some people ever to have enough bookshelves! Both of our offices would probably qualify for one of those ghastly reality shows about hoarders, were it not a policy to at least try and maintain some semblance of order.”
What does Deni add to what works for her in the office Gordon built? “I have a stuffed vulture atop my modem. Its name is Michael Seidman, after my first editor. When I work on my second (third, fourth, eighth) draft, I think: Would Michael take this word/sentence/paragraph out? The answer is almost always YES! And I have statuettes of a tortoise and a hare on my computer stand. As a book or story nears completion, the tortoise inches forward. Plus, I have a small ceramic frog seated in front of a crystal ball; inspiration for Toe of the Frog: The Da Vinci Toad, sequel to my ‘reluctant witch’ mystery, Eye of Newt. What doesn’t work? When I clean my office so that it looks like one of those Mr. Clean commercials, all sparkly and pristine, I can't find anything.”
It’s obvious from the above authors’ revelations that some writers find creative energy in spaces that reflect the chaos of ideas from which stories are drawn. I confess that while I begin a novel in the midst of order, that order is soon overwhelmed with piles of notes, research books and papers, along with the threering-binder in which I keep my draft, printing off my work at the end of each day.
Though I can write most anywhere, writing in my kitchen does seem to provide better results for fiction writing, a thought I expanded upon in my February 2011 column. The view from my writing chair is one of the most important elements to me, even though my focus is on the story and my gaze upon the computer screen. Facing a wall without windows shuts down my creativity. I once lived beside a pond, and loved writing on the screened-in porch that overlooked the water.
In exploring pictures of authors in their creative settings, I find it interesting how many authors share their space with dogs and cats. My dog lies at my feet when I write, and my long-haired Continued on page 17