I like the mess I make in my study. It gets a cleaning every now and then when I cannot walk to my desk without stepping over several piles of folders, papers, and occasionally a box of folders! Though my study appears disorganized, the mess is an important part of my process of writing. There are drafts of chapters, research, my journals and other evidence, like photos, that inspire me in developing scenes for my memoir.
So it doesn’t improve my writing to focus on my study’s appearance.
My study has three desks.
The desk on the right is where I begin my day, usually between 8 and 9 am. I bring a strong decaf Americano from a $5 coffee grinder where I crank the wheel to turn the coffee beans into grounds. This is a good wake up exercise. With the steaming coffee in my mug with the motto “Women Authoring Change,” I set it on the second table.
The table nearest to the window is where I do my handwriting. I use an ultra fine black Sharpie to write out my daily goals on a white lined tablet at the end of my workday, usually 3 pm. This is also where I read drafts and edit my manuscripts with a red uni-ball pen. Isn’t it interesting how certain pens serve a function, despite the heavy use of the computer?
I look out the window at my neighbor’s large orange tree that in the spring has orange blossoms. The windowsill holds three framed photos; my daughter sitting by the Seine in Paris, she and I sitting on the sand at Laguna Beach, California, and one of her looking over my shoulder at I was sketching a building in London. These are particular mementos that bring me joy and always lift my spirits when I am writing, re-writing and trying to find the right words and how to end an essay. It simply brings me comfort.
In the book shelve there are fifty-two of my handwritten journals dating from the early seventies, all of help to me in writing my memoir and a reminder that I have been writing as a way of making sense of my life since I was young.
The desk pushed up against the wall is a catchall surface where I put things down but seldom sit at.
I clean my study occasionally when it feels like it is time for a spring-cleaning, maybe it is just a way of giving myself a task that allows me to continue to think over some bigger ideas in the back of my mind while I sort through papers and find a place to put things. I am often surprised by what I find.
It took me many years to decide that I needed a place to write. It took me a while to convince my husband that I deserved this place and it is a continuous process to create this space where I work. I don’t invite people into my study very often, but when I do, I feel like they know me a bit better by seeing this space.