My Writing Space: Marilyn Hammick

“My Writing Space” is a series about writers and the places in which they write. To contribute, send a photo of your writing space along with a paragraph or two describing it and its influence on your writing to beaver[at]toasted-cheese.com with the subject line “My Writing Space.”

hammick A sloping ceiling, a limestone wall and some temporary bookshelves give my writing space in my Le Gers Farmhouse its shape and size at the end of the long living room. Further in is my sewing table and quilting frame, a sitting room and further still the terrace with views of the Pyrenees.

I’m privileged to have this space for thinking and writing on the page and screen, though often I put pen to paper out on the terrace and use my laptop with my feet up on a sofa. If I’m in the writing space, perhaps looking for a note I made about a new magazine to send my poems to, I can see my Bargello quilted wall hanging. This is a lot smaller than planned. I became tired of sewing small pieces to even smaller pieces about halfway through the project… a reminder that often less is more in patchwork and, of course, in writing.

The books are randomly organised. There are plans to build shelves in the walls of one of the yet to be finished rooms of the house but for now books are piled where there is space. I found some mice-like nibbles in one the other day—a mouse with taste!

hammick2The desk has been part of my life for many years: it first came to live with us when we restored an old vicarage to a wonderful family home. I like its divided spaces, ideal for stationery, slim volumes of poetry, and the small drawer that keeps safe those really useful things you can never find when you want them. I find putting stuff in its place a settling activity: an antidote to the first and vital any which way writing process that launches a poem or piece of prose.

I’m at home surrounded by words—others and my own—on paper, in books and magazines, in my workshop notes, pages torn out because I spied a writing idea. All this and more is on the wide table—a gift from my father-in-law after we moved into a large house with very little furniture. Its gate-leg arrangement means it wobbles so it’s not good for sitting to write at but it holds many memories and suits its present purpose.

A wooden wine box keeps poetry magazines upright, a plywood butter carton stores pens and pencils and the plethora of chargers and leads that technology produces live in a cut glass bowl that my mother once served fruit salad in. There are places for candles, a lamp that was once by my bed and sparkly cushions from an Iranian bazaar bought when I visited in 2010 to use up local currency I knew my bank would not exchange into Euros.

I have to be careful to dip under the beams and a stack of unused floorboards is all that stops me falling over the edge of the stairs but I feel like a writer when I’m there. I’m there now, writing this.

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