The story of my writing room(s) is one of contrast. Beauty and the Beast. The fact is I divide my time between two very different spaces – my kitchen (Beauty), which has a glorious view of the garden, especially pretty just now. And the Beast, which is the practical but not-so-pretty office space, currently tucked in the corner of the guest room.
OK – let’s start with the nice room. The kitchen is the heart of my home and I sit happily at the table here to plot and proof-read over coffee. It has this wonderful view onto the garden and I absolutely love it. I am a coffee addict and there is a proper Espresso machine with all the bells. It’s in this kitchen that I also road tested all the recipes for my debut novel Recipes for Melissa.
And now to the Beast. It is not the room I want it to be. In my head and in my dreams my key writing room is very different. For starters it has a view of the sea. There is a clutter-free desk. Calm, clean lines. The reality, as you see, is not quite there. I have been a journalist, TV presenter and jobbing writer all my working life so my office space is uber practical. The desk faces the wall as it should (‘ealth and safety – no glare from a window onto my screen) and I never quite get round to tidying it as I should which is odd, actually, as I am a neat freak in other areas of my life. I considered prettying it up for this feature but decided to be truthful. It is what it is.
The reason I flit between the two spaces is not just for the pretty window. Some years back I frightened the life out of myself with a dose of RSI. I have been a writer all my working life (newspaper journalist, TV presenter and then freelance writer) so it was a huge shock. How could I suddenly have numb fingers and arm ache? Where had this come from?
I soon realised that my previous working life as a journalist involved lots of natural breaks – to move into the TV studio. Or to pop out of the office to conduct an interview. But as a writer of fiction, I was suddenly working in a new way. At my desk writing long hours without breaks. I get so absorbed in my work that I just don’t notice the time. And this was what was hurting.
I love writing books so much, there is no way I am going to let anything stop me. So I did what I always do when confronted with a problem. I did my research. This led to me loading a software programme onto my computer which enforces breaks. I healed. And I promised myself that I don’t want to go there again, thank you very much.
So this is the reason for my split life. Now when my software says “take a break” I move to the kitchen so that I am not tempted to override said software (very, very naughty) and instead do some proofreading or the like over a delicious cup of coffee.
It has not only solved the arm ache but the constant flitting up and down the stairs burns off a few calories too. No bad thing for a writer, methinks.
Recipes for Melissa by Teresa Driscoll is out now.