This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
Hindsight is a marvellous thing. With hindsight, I wouldn't have chosen to write in a room just off my kitchen (proximity to the biscuit jar/kettle/child moaning about homework), but to be honest, I love my little study so much that I would write in it even if it was just off Hell. It's petite, it's pretty, and it's tidy. I swim against the tide here – I can't do the whole self deprecating “Oh I had to tidy up before you arrived” thing. My study is always neat because I believe that my desk mirrors my head, so I can't write if it's not in some sort of order.
It's a nice desk, second hand, from the 1950s, I suspect. It's sturdy, with metal drawers and legs, and a dark top, just big enough to support the laptop, the stray pens I gather to me like lost souls, and the cute, resolutely non-desky lamp with an embroidered shade.
There's also a diary, a tile for resting my tea on, and a shell I brought back from a jaunt in France. Oh, and I've just noticed a bottle of nail varnish. For those vital, mid-paragraph, touch ups.There are books in here with me, of course, cheering me on or, on a bad day when few words are written (but many, many biscuits meet their death), commiserating. I have a whiteboard with an ignored schedule scrawled on it, augmented by my daughter's declarations of love. Ten year olds can't stop saying they love you; they're the polar opposite of most of my exes (who rarely got round to it).
There's a pretty fireplace. Well, it was pretty when we moved in; now it's taking up valuable book shelf space. Above it, there's an old music hall poster I love to stare at when I'm at a loss. It features various publicity shots of a 1920s double act, two girls who I've decided are sisters. There's a cute, pretty one and a galumphing plain one. Guess who gets to wear the lovely ostrich feather tutus and the satin ballgowns? Poor big sis is stuck with a top hat and a disgruntled expression. I like to sit and imagine her thoughts …
I'm very well off for windows. There's a big sash one above my desk, with a fuchsia coloured blind, edged with pom poms. You can never have too many pom poms is one of my mottos. (Admittedly it's not up there with "Keep calm and carry on", but it works for me.) To my left is a pair of french windows which open on to our garden, which is pretty damn geranium-heavy this year. You can never have too many g… my mottos are a bit samey, I've just realised.
The garden, like the biscuit tin, can be very tempting, but I've learned to my cost that I can't work in the sun – glare on the screen, general drowsiness, sudden panic if a bee enters UK air space – so I remain resolutely in my chair.
Oh, my chair – I love my chair. It's probably very bad for my back, being a John Lewis dining chair and not an ergonomically designed whatsit you have to hang upside down on or whatever. It's transparent and it spins and rolls; I'm making it sound like a rollercoaster, but believe me, hard up against a deadline you need all the kicks you can get,and spinning on my see-through chair does it for me. There are two cushions on it, their covers both hand made by me. A chair without a cushion is no chair at all; if all else fails, at least your bum is happy!
The dogs share my study. So it's not really a study, is it? It's a bloody kennel with a desk in it. They have a lovely, um, scent all of their own so those french doors get thrown open a lot. Spaniels both, Mavis is timid and shy and humble, and Zelda is basically Russell Brand in a collar. She's small enough and big headed enough to leap on to my desk while I write, sticking her snout in to my face, pawing me. She's very distracting, but when I'm feeling
overwhelmed by how the lovely words in my head are emerging mangled on to the page, it's soothing to cuddle a small, sleek, devoted Russell Brand on my lap for a moment or two.
What Would Mary Berry Do by Claire Sandy is out now.