One of the reasons my wife and I bought our home was that it had three reception rooms meaning I could claim one as a study. After all, we thought, who could possibly need three reception rooms? Unfortunately the answer to that question turned out to be ‘we do’ and within a year I was turfed out of my beautiful, high-ceiled spacious study to make way for the kids’ new X-Box/piano/mates-coming-over to watch a DVD room. By way of compensation I was handed the smallest bedroom in the house (formerly occupied by my youngest daughter) and told to make it work. Despite its disco pink walls and diminutive stature I’ve actually come to love my little study.
For one, it’s got a great view of the garden meaning that a source of distraction is only ever a head turn away. At the moment I’m doing edits for my latest book and having to provide answers to lots of tricky questions posed by my editor (“On page 101 you tell us that your protagonist is allergic to ginger cake and yet three pages later he’s eating the aforementioned cake to no ill effects, why???”) and so I’m always up for being sidetracked. Currently my favourite form of distraction is the squirrel that has been ransacking our plum tree. Whenever I spot him I leap from my desk, run downstairs and spend the next half hour chasing after him, yelling abuse. By the time I’ve seen him off my property not only have I had my exercise for the day (the writing life is nothing if not sedentary) but more often than not I’ve come up with a solution to my editing problem (“Dear Editor, my protagonist is allergic to ginger cake but the ginger cake in question doesn’t actually contain any ginger. Sorry for the confusion”).
Another reason I love my room so much is that it’s so small that I can get anything I want without having to stand up. I know that sounds like a poor reason but as a kid I used to dream of being able to get to my things without leaving the comfort of my bed. Now thanks to the castors of my IKEA office chair that dream has (sort of) become a reality. Box files, DVDs, notebooks, shoes, dalek alarms clocks, pens, pencils, laptops, dictionaries, staplers and reams of A4 paper are only ever a two-second shuffle away. If the ten year-old me could see me all these years later living the dream I know he’d say well done, mate and give me a high-five.
The final reason I love my room is because, as you’ve no doubt noticed, it is a bit of a tip. But it’s not just any tip though, it’s MY tip, and while to the untrained eye it looks like total chaos it is anything but. Because my room is the only place in the house that is an official KID FREE ZONE meaning everything in it is exactly where I want it to be. Ask me where something is and I’ll know its exact location. Go on, have a go! I dare you! Paper clips? In the Hoegaarden beer glass on my desk. Polish taxation exemption forms? In the ‘To Do’ paperwork pile next to the lamp. Northern European plug adaptors? In my desk, second drawer down on the left. I could never dream of doing that in the rest of the house. The kids are constantly moving things around the house FOR NO GOOD REASON and when it’s not them it’s my wife ‘tidying’ things away. Honestly, it’s all I can do to find my own bed at the end of the day let alone locate where the torches/bike helmets/pets/whatever it is you need but can’t find have been stashed away.
Obviously one day I’d love a proper grown up writing room (Joanne Harris’s particularly snazzy one springs to mind) but for now, my tiny, pink walled, stuffed to the gills refuge more than fits the bill.
Seeing Other People by Mike Gayle is out now.