How do you go about your writing? That’s the question recently posed by another blogger.
I’m a creature of habit so I always write in the same spot: Right here at my desk.
A few months back, bloggers were posting photos of their personal workspaces. I did not participate in that briefly popular fad — nor do I intend to because nobody needs to see my messy desk! I know exactly what is in each stack of papers and other items, and my family is well-trained: None of them would dare to disturb the organized clutter that is my “command center.”
A few years go, my housekeeper decided that she would tidy up my work space for me. I have no idea why, given that there was plenty of dusting, vacuuming and scrubbing to be done. When I came home and saw what she had done to my desk, I was appalled and furious — I felt violated. I called her and told her kindly, but quite emphatically, that if she ever touched my desk again, she would be minus one very loyal and steady client. The price of my privacy? This corner of the room is rarely dusted and she only vacuums when I leave her a note instructing her to do so.
When we sold our house and took up residence here in the home my parents built, I decided to put my desk in the corner of the living room. I gravitated to this room because it is literally where I grew up — my piano was in this very spot throughout my childhood so I spent countless hours practicing that instrument here. These days, I have my piano in the hallway but there is a music stand next to the desk so I remain in front of my computer when practicing my flute and piccolo. This house did not have a family room during my youth — my parents added that room after I had grown up and moved out — and Bob sort of claimed that room in which he watches the History, Biography and Nascar Channels.
My desk is next to the fireplace and on these cold winter evenings, I have been enjoying a cozy fire while writing. Although I won’t show you my desk, I will share with you the view from this side of the room! My kids love my mother’s comfortable old couch that I kept, along with my parents’ RCA XL 100 television set that they purchased in 1977. Yes, it works just fine and there is not a single scratch on the walnut cabinet! I still laugh when I remember the look on the cable television installer’s face when I told him that I did indeed expect him to reconnect a television set that was obviously older than he was! When it finally quits working, we will haul it off to the dump. But in the meantime, my human and canine children spend a lot of time watching it while I’m blogging, reading e-mail, etc. If they want to watch any premium cable stations or a DVD, however, they abandon me in favor of the modern equipment in the family room.
When I’m here at my desk, that television set is pretty much always on because I need background noise. In my office, I listen to classical or soft jazz music, but at home I tune in a news, talk or reality program. I rarely “watch” television to the exclusion of all other activity. Rather, I frequently say that I “heard” something on television and my words have more meaning than most people realize: I “hear” a lot of snippets of information and news stories. Occasionally, they are compelling enough to force me to stop reading or writing and briefly refocus my attention. But I rarely see many of the images that flash onto the television’s screen.
Those brief bits of information often inspire me to read more about the particular topic on the ‘Net and regularly serve as the basis for a blog article or comment posted on someone else’s blog. I keep mind maps handy and jot down ideas for future articles, notes about research I need to complete, titles of books I plan to buy, etc. I carry those mind maps in my physical calendar/organizer that I keep in my purse so I have access to them at all times. I also utilize Bloglines and clip articles so that I can easily find them later in case I want to refer back to them when I have a chance to write.
The main reason I remain here at my desk, aside from the comfortable familiarity of this room, is the fact that I have a 22? monitor which helps me avoid over-taxing my eye. Due to retinal detachments, tears and “lattice degeneration,” I read with only my right eye, so assure that I also have adequate light.
I always have cold water to which I add lemonade flavor Crystal Light. On Friday or Saturday night, I might enjoy a glass of fine Lodi wine, but I always have a bottle of water on my desk or in my purse, along with travel-size packets of Crystal Light. Each morning, I stumble to my desk only half awake and start the day reading e-mail and sipping mandarin orange flavor Advocare Spark Energy Drink with which I take my first packet of Advocare Metabolic Nutrition System multinutrient dietary supplements. Again, e-mail messages are frequently a source of ideas for articles so it is not at all unusual to find me opening links contained in them, bookmarking web pages to be read in more detail later and jotting notes on my mind maps before I get dressed and head out to experience the day’s many adventures.
I generally check my e-mail again each evening before retiring and it is not uncommon for me to click “publish,” just as I am about to, while David Letterman is saying good-night or Craig Ferguson is introducing his first guest. I am a terrible “night owl” — always have been — and find that my creative juices really start flowing about 10:00 p.m. I have tried over the years to mold myself into a “morning person” with absolutely no success. If the world were a perfect place, I would never have to get out of bed before 9:00 a.m. and never turn in before 2:00 a.m. Unfortunately, since I don’t write fictional works, I will never publish a best-selling novel that provides me the luxury of working and sleeping when I want. Alas, the legal world keeps pretty regular business hours.
My annual stay-at-home vacation has ended and today I returned to the demanding world of employment defense. I am back in my routine, struggling to tear myself away from the computer or my flute before midnight, and writing in “dribs and drabs” whenever I have a few free moments during the week and more freely on the weekends.
I really would not change anything about my writing habits except that I always wish I had more time to devote to all of my creative endeavors. I laugh at people who say that if they were to win the lottery or inherit a substantial sum of money, thereby having the option to retire, they would continue working because they love their job. If I had the financial means, I would retire right now because I could amuse myself endlessly with all of my various hobbies and interests, not to mention desire to travel.
As I mentioned last week, I want to write less “fluff” and focus on more substantive, multi-part articles, as time allows. Among the topics I plan to broach here at Colloquium in 2008 are divorce and subsequent parental alienation, living with post traumatic stress disorder, and the sociological and psychological implications of living in a celebrity-obsessed culture.
Hopefully, 2008 will be healthy, productive and interesting for all of us — as writers and readers of each other’s work.
If you could, what would or will you change about the way you write in 2008? Leave a comment!