My Writing Space: Ruth Raymer

“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.”

Raymer

This is my very first—ever in my life—room of my own!

Christened ‘The Ladyshed’, it is a 10’x10′ softwood summer house built in my back garden. This is the culmination of months of planning and plotting and about forty years of daydreaming.

Let me explain. I am approaching the age of fifty at a rate of knots and last October I achieved one of my ambitions and enrolled at the University of Essex on a Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing. I quit school at 17 and was married just over a year later. The eldest of six children, I never had a room of my own growing up, having shared with one or more of my siblings all my childhood. When I left home, I married then went on to have seven children of my own. Most of them have now flown the nest, but it was always my dream to have a space to write in, to be alone with my muse and no interruptions. In April this year I was finally in a position to create my own space.

I now spend at least three hours a day in the Ladyshed, writing, reading, knitting and enjoying my personal space. It has made a great difference to my writing. At 5am the birds are singing and the rest of the world is quiet. Sitting in the Ladyshed I can usually get 1000 words down in the time before the rest of the household awakes which is where I really want to be!

My Writing Space: Stephanie Lenz

“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.”

mws_lenz

First off, no. I do not usually keep a beverage in proximity to my laptop. Nor do I keep the laptop in the vicinity of the desktop. But since I use both for writing, I wanted the XPS to make a cameo.

I have two workspaces. One is “anywhere I can” with the laptop (usually the reclining chair-and-a-half in the living room or the kitchen table). This is the other. This writing space is far more representative of my writing life. It’s a shared space, our family computer. Here, devices are charged, calls are made, emails are written, photos are shared, art is created, vacations are planned, Lego houses are constructed, and Littlest Pet Shop pets join Avenger action figures to watch movies and riff them like MST3k.

Please note there is a snack and beverage because when I’m working, I do not notice clocks. That’s why there’s a huge clock right above a device that has a clock built into it. I still have to set alarms to remind me to go out and meet the bus when the kids get home.

My daughter and son generally know if I’m working because they recognize Word as “work.” When I’m working online, it’s a little more hazy and they ask, specifically “When will you be finished with work? They might want to do something with me, be fed, or use the computer or desk themselves. The three of us tend to schedule our computer time (my husband works in another part of the house using a desktop that runs Windows XP to play satellite radio while using a work-issued laptop). So if I need to work on this device, I need to get it done M-F 8:30-2:30. After that, it becomes a drive-in for the cast of Cars (and a series of Batmobiles that may or may not be mine).

My Writing Space

“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.”

We know a lot of teachers and students use our calendar of writing prompts. Want to show your appreciation? Send in a photo of your classroom and tell us about some of your favorite prompts. We’d love to see where you write and hear how you’re using our prompts.

My Writing Space: Misti Rainwater-Lites

“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.”

rainwater-lites_1

I do most of my writing in a travel trailer I share with my boyfriend. I also write on my laptop at McDonald’s and on various computers in the University of Texas at San Antonio library. I live in San Antonio. I’m the author of Bullshit Rodeo and a few other books. I maintain a blog called Chupacabra Disco.

My Writing Space

“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.”

Been meaning to send in a photo of your space, but haven’t got around to it yet? Now would be a great time to do it. You could see your space featured here next week!

My Writing Space: Carole Snow Smith

“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.”
mws_snow

Stark and meaningful. I write flush against a beige wall next to the front door of my urban apartment. I don’t know if I am in line with the tenants of Feng Shui, but I recall something about having your desk face the door in alignment with being open to opportunity. I am indeed open as I will cash in any straight navigation through a five year plan, in favor of the ten year plan that leaves you eating flat bread with strangers in the alleys of the world.

Six, suspended objects that accompany me when I write taut defiance, instability and loyal memory. Moving clockwise, we start with the skewed still life from my now passed-on grandma, Daisy. She was Cumberland Plateau stock with a prolific catalog of mediocre paintings. Most  were Tennessee landscapes in the Appalachians, but on the day of her funeral, my cousin and I took this off the hooks from her secretary desk in the attic workspace. I like it because it appeared dark like the attic space and the pencil jar and faint plate in the background existed in a vacuum.

The next item, my framed diploma from some elite night school. I’m also sheepish at the thought, but single moms who take the backwards route and ten years in undergrad need a gold star too. So it sits and I have yet to make more salary than my tuition to that school. When the alumni office calls at the end of the year, I chuckle and wonder what it’s like to buy something at the mall, full price.

A wooden plaque with Anne Lamott’s famous warning, “If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.” is anchored by twine, words etched with a wood burner. A gift from my friend Ben Smallwood, Colorado artist who for my birthday wanted me to have permission to write freely.

In the rustic frame sits a page from an old college Blue Book exam where I have written out the definition of “cognitive dissonance”. I say in parenthesis that I like this theory because I’ve been pissed off all my life. My professor writes back, “me too!!” And to think, he gives advice on marital communication on PBS sometimes.

Above that in the ornate, teal frame is a print of Zelda Fitzgerald’s Save Me the Waltz. I appreciate her, by proxy to F. Scott Fitzgerald. I know in my own life how tragic the muse figures can be, but aren’t they fun for a moment to drink and adventure with?

At the top, a Nepali mask. I have no idea what it means or why it’s significant. I like that it was a spur of the moment gift from my friend Rabindra as my airport cab pulled away from the American Alpine Clubhouse in Kathmandu. I said, “Rabindra, what is this?” I think he gave the classic it keeps the spirits away response—but I could only muster in return, “it looks like my mother,” and blew a wild kiss as the car moved down the cobbled back alley.

My Writing Space: Lynda Chambers

“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.”

mws_chambersI have two favourite writing spaces. In the winter, I’m in the solarium with the heater going and the rain dripping all around me. It’s like being outside. The light is bright even with cloud cover and the air has a green quality because of giant hemlock, fir and cedar that loom just beyond the glass in all directions—even up. The trees are taller here than anywhere else I’ve ever lived. It is a quiet place and invites contemplation and creativity. Sometimes the cat joins me and sleeps on the table next to my notebook computer. His contentment convinces me that all is well and I give myself over then to writing, ignoring for the moment all temptation to be somewhere else or do something else. That’s the hardest part about writing—the discipline to just do it. So this ritual and this special place help me.

In the summer, I am in the gazebo. It’s warm there and, on weekday mornings, quiet. I use an old pine table for a writing surface and sit in a cheap plastic chair. It’s OK. It works. Writing by hand comes more naturally in this setting so often I leave my computer behind and head out with only pen, paper and a glass of water. The wood chip trail that leads to the gazebo is just long enough to give me the sense that I have left the “everyday” behind. That’s a priceless feeling. I find my imagination kicks in more when I feel removed from the ordinary—as if existing for a time on a different plane.

I’m looking forward to writing outside again soon, sheltered from the sun under the gazebo’s cedar shake roof. For now, though, I’m still confined to my glass world and resigned to the sound of rain. It’ll do.

My Writing Space: Lynn Bauman-Milner

“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.”

mws_bauman-milner

I waited for almost ten years to have a dedicated space to myself, a Woolf-esque room of my own. During that time, my space has shifted from the kitchen, to the dining room, then finally to a shared office with my husband. But now, I have this lovely conservatory all to myself. When the door closes, no one is allowed in (except for the cats, of course). The windows look out onto my back garden here in West Yorkshire, which is much nicer to look at since having it redone. I can stare out the window, and watch the grass blow in the breeze while I work out a scene. Or (more likely) fixate on how long the grass is and I should really get out there and mow it, thereby avoiding the plot-knot snarling up my brain.

mws_bauman-milner_2This room has been the focus of all my writing activities—from short stories to longer projects to lesson plans and resources. The desk was a gift from my parents, purchased from a charity shop on one of their very rare visits to the UK. This desk has seen me through at least three different computers, five broken printers, two houses, eight years of teaching, and one novel (with two more on the way). Both the desk and the room have acquired a fair amount of clutter, but it is organized and out of the way. And it’s my clutter. So there.

As long as there is space for a coffee cup, a clear path to the keyboard, and a box for the cat to sleep in (not on my hands while I’m typing), I’m happy.