At the moment my writing room needs a mammoth clean-up and de-clutter. But as I fit in my writing with a day job, as well as running a home and squeezing in family time, a de-clutter is very low on my priority list.
I used to have a desk in a corner of the bedroom and I’ve been lucky enough to have my own writing room for the last few years. The picture shows the ‘good’ side of the room. I have my writing desk angled towards the window, so I manage to ignore all the untidiness. We live in a quiet cul-de-sac facing a green area, with the lower slopes of the Dublin Mountains in the near distance, so it’s mostly very peaceful. It’s a south-facing room and on sunny days, the light sparkles off the crystals I have hanging in the window. The window sill holds candles, a colourful paperweight, sea shells and a keepsake box. There are also CD’s – usually whatever I’m currently listening to as I write.
The white desk I work at started life as a dressing table waiting for the mirror to be attached. When I spotted it in a furniture shop, I asked the guy to sell it to me without the mirror, as it was the exact size I needed. (I can push it back against the wall and open out the fold-up bed if needs be.) It has enough room for my laptop and current notes. I write straight onto the laptop but I always have character and plot notes on the desk beside me as well as post-its, dictionaries and random notebooks. And coffee. Sometimes chocolate as well. The drawers are brimming with notebooks of all shapes and sizes, biros, pencils, coloured markers, highlighters, and a huge assortment of post it’s – I’m a stationery junkie so I find it hard to resist anything that appeals to me, even though I now have enough supplies to keep me going for several decades.
The corkboard on the wall behind me and the corner shelves hold a medley of personal mementoes – good luck cards, a cute teddy my kids gave me one Mother’s Day, some photographs, including one of my now-deceased parents when they were dating each other, a small angel figure that my godmother gave me, a pretty butterfly that came in a bouquet of flowers, an encouraging postcard from the late and great Maeve Binchy. The filing cabinet is useful because it’s very roomy and hides a forest of random stuff.
Out of the picture is the chaotic side of the room. Unfortunately I’ve allowed far too much stuff to accumulate over that time. There are stacks of book waiting to be read, both on shelves and on the floor; favourites I’d never part with, others I plan to re-read, and taking pride of place – ahem – my own books. I have an overflowing heap of newspapers and magazines all of which have, I think, ‘something interesting I might use at some stage’. Then there are storage boxes jammed with writing notes, admin stuff, reviews, and for every book I’ve ever written, I have a ring binder crammed with plot notes and character notes, timelines and research. One of the first things I do when starting a new book, is to go out and buy an attractive ring binder to keep all the important notes together.
I’ve always a tidy person so I find it hard to believe I’ve allowed my precious writing room to become so muddled, but it won’t be getting tidied up any time soon, because once I cross the threshold, writing takes top priority.
A Question of Betrayal by Zoe Miller is out April 16.