The Writing Room

photo (6)I work in my Writing Room. It’s a nice big room my husband and elder son built for me out of a third of the garage. I love every cluttered inch of it and I love writing in it. My desk is a huge old oak teacher’s desk my younger son’s friend and mentor gave me when he retired from Lyndon State College. I sit here and watch birds and deer. Sometimes I even work, but it’s so much of a pleasure it doesn’t usually feel like work. So it’s my favorite.

Years ago, I got my first set of edits and was instantly overwhelmed. They were on paper then, and I thought someone had bled on virtually every page. Why did they even buy the book? They hate everything. I remembered Anne Stuart writing an article in RWR about going to a motel alone for a weekend and writing a huge amount. I didn’t want to be alone—I was far too terrified I was going to fail at this to face it by myself—so Duane and I got a room at the Kokomo, Indiana Hampton Inn. He watched television and I went down to hamptonthe dining room and worked on edits until my eyes were bleary. The next morning, I got up, went downstairs and did the same thing. I drank so much coffee I was probably jittery for a week. But I got most of the edits done and had gained confidence I could finish. I also developed a fondness for Hampton Inns that still persists today. This is my third favorite. (Yes, I know I’m counting wrong, but I’m going chronologically here.)

A few years back, when I was doing the edits for One More Summer, my first Carina release, Duane didn’t even suggest I do them all at home. “So,” he said, “where do you want to go?”

cliftyWe spent two nights at the lodge in Clifty Falls State Park. Duane played golf. I worked at a table beside a window in the hallway, in the lodge dining room, and—best of all—at a table overlooking the park. I worked for hours and hours, drinking excellent coffee out of a china cup a lodge employee went into the kitchen and swiped for me. This is my second favorite.

One time, I was just stalled. The story wouldn’t move. I wasn’t even sure I loved it anymore—how could anyone else? We were already gone for the weekend, but we stopped and spent the night at Brown County State Park. I don’t remember what Duane did. I found an empty corner of the dining room and wrote and wrote and wrote, delivered from my own fears. This is my fourth favorite.

Last November, I went to a writers’ retreat with chapter mates. There were 20 or so of us in a huge house. Food was catered. It was quiet. Cheryl Brooks brought enough extension cords that none of us ever ran our batteries down. It was fun and productive and filled the well in a way that writing alone does not. This was my fifth favorite. (I’m going back again this year, by the way. I recommend it!)

Like most of the writers who’ve written about “where I write” this month, I don’t have a set-in-stone place. What I have is a good laptop, good writing friends—“listen to this paragraph, Nan. Is it really stupid?”—and a story in my heart, just waiting for me to pour the coffee and get busy. That’s what the Writing Room really is, and aren’t we the luckiest of people that we can find our particular ones in so many different places?



The Writing Room — 20 Comments

  1. So here’s something interesting. I have a fabulous little garret that I love at the back of the second floor of my house. It’s all me and anyone who walked in would know immediately it was mine–it kinda shouts “Nan!” When I edit, it helps me to be there where work is the focus. But when I write, I can be just about anywhere–I love writing on my laptop and being outside on the deck at the cottage or curled up in the big wicker easy chair inside the cottage or in the overstuffed chair in my living room here at home or on the back patio where I can smell the freshly mowed yard and hear the birds. And yes, a thousand yesses to the big house at IRWA Retreat (I’ll be back this year too, roomie!)…and wow, yeah, Clifty Falls Inn is a perfect place to write. But I think definitely, our writing room is inside of us and also whom we surround ourselves with for support. (And no, Mon Amie–your sentences are never stupid! ;-))

  2. Thanks for sharing some of the places you’ve written and worked on edits, Liz. Sometimes it’s nice to get away from our regular writing space. One year my husband worked on a contract project about three hours from where we lived. I was able to travel with him. We stayed all week and returned home on weekends. I got so much writing done while he was at work each day. I’ve been wanting to take some sort of writing retreat again ever since.

    • I’ll bet that was fun! I used to actually enjoy it once in a while when my husband would work off-shift so that I had alone time when I didn’t have to cook, etc. I’d get a lot done, then be so glad to see him when I did, so it was a win-win.

  3. I think that is the way a writer can write, between, around, and wherever we can steal time. As a working writer–day job and no fame or fortune–I’ve learned to improvise.

    • Me, too, Brenda, when I was working–and I was during most of those discoveries. I don’t need the away places so much anymore, but they’re fun occasionally anyway!

    • It is odd, isn’t it, that I need that time away. I don’t when I’m creating or working on second (etc.) draft. Also, if I’m honest about it, I just really love state park lodges.

  4. I have friends who have gone the “hotel weekend blitz” route when they were on deadline and behind schedule, but I don’t think they ever tried writing in the dining room. I used to write in my room when I traveled for business, but otherwise I stick to my lovely office at home. BTW, your’s is terrific!

  5. Hi Liz, oh I am a homebody. I am even leaving my laptop at home these days when we travel. As soon as our son graduated from college, I countermanded his room and it became my writing room. All mine LOL. It’s not as awesome as yours, but it’s pretty cute. I’ve got all my covers framed on the wall…that said, I don’t even like to go to Starbux or Coffeebean to write. Although I sometimes do so with friends (we spend more time gabbing and catching up than writing LOL.) I love the fact that you can get away and find your editing/writing muse…cracked me up when you said your paper galley looked like someone had bled all over it LOL.I really enjoyed this post!

    • I laugh about it now, Tanya, but I sure didn’t then! I was so new and so incredibly dumb. I love writing time with friends–I think the gab time is as important as the real writing we do.

  6. Thank you for sharing your writing space. I have a lovely “Library” with a desk my brother built for me to my specifications and it’s perfect. It is also set, like yours, under a big window except my window looks out over the Atlantic Ocean. I get a lot of work done here. I’ve also gotten work done on my daughter’s dining room table, in my tent during the summer, in the sunroom at my sons house and on my own deck – I do love my Macbook! I got the newest one that weighs less than 2 pounds and it goes everywhere with me. But that retreat deal sounded wonderful. I will have to try that, too.

  7. I totally understand your panic about getting the edits. I read that first email in the grocery store and cried right there in the produce department, right next to the watermelons.

    • LOL. I do believe more than one of us has cried in the grocery store, Amy. Is it a romance writer thing or it it just another indicator we have to spend too much time marketing? :-)

  8. Liz, I love writing in hotel rooms, though I’ve never tried the dining room. My husband used to have to travel to Ottawa for work quite often, and I went along whenever I could. I wrote all day in our room while he worked, and when he came home, he took me to a nice restaurant for dinner. What could be better! I’ve also been lucky enough the last several years to go with friends for our annual writing retreat at a monastery. I think getting away is so productive for me because all the distractions of life are gone. I don’t have to worry about cooking dinner or washing clothes or walking the dog. I don’t even have to answer the telephone. For the time I’m there, all I have to do is write.

  9. I think I love the dining room because there’s always stuff to look at so I don’t feel compelled to get up and move around. The monastery sounds cool! A friend of mine goes to one in Michigan. But I love not having to deal with cooking, dishes, etc.–that does more for productivity than anything!

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