Where the magic happens

I’ve been on a journey to find out just how typical my own writing space actually is. I thought it might be worthwhile to show others what my desk looks like, you know – where the magic happens; warts and all.


Come with me on a small tour around the space that could hold the answers to many of my dreams. In no particular order;

  • Max the Border Terrier – I just woke him up moving from my chair and he was in the middle of a particularly good stretch. He’s good company at night and keeps my feet warm in the winter.
  • Laptop is for work and is usually tucked away in the drawers to the side. If I’m working, then I’m not writing and vice versa.
  • The 32″ TV doubles as my main monitor when I’m writing at night, whilst the 20″ monitor is my main source of research as I use it to surf the Internet.
  • The lamp adds an element of mood lighting at night when I’m writing. I chose it because it looked very “Steampunk” to me.
  • Forgive the saucer and can / glass. I’d just finished my dinner and hadn’t gotten around to clearing the pots.
  • The book on the desk is an old university creative writing book that I’m working through at the moment. The box of pins / clips on top are there to allow me to mark the various pages that inspire me.
  • Finally, there is just half of a mini/personal Christmas tree in the top left of the picture. I’ve wrapped some tiny lights around it and I’ve kept it there so I can turn it on and experience my own little bit of Christmas whenever I choose.

***Bonus point if anyone spotted the remote control to the TV that is literally twelve inches away from the actual screen.  I know, I’m lazy!***

Back to the actual searching now though. I’ve found lots of resources that show where some of the more famous authors penned their works. One particular link is a section on The Guardian website called Writers’ room over here.

This gem of a section has some wonderful rooms dating back to around 2007 (the reports, not the desks). My own personal favourites are:

Anthony Browne – I just love the lighting in this room. I assume it’s intended as Anthony is an illustrator but it just feels so light and airy. Also, he’s not the first person to suggest working standing up is good for the back.

Joan Bakewell – I can picture myself there on a cold Winter’s night with that log fire burning away. Joan’s comments about the poster on her wall and how she wants “some of her stillness to transmit itself to me, help me settle down and find my focus,” I find extremely comforting.

Francesca Simon – I like the angles and the way the eye is drawn to that excellent window. Francesca also has trouble with music and lyrics when she’s writing, very similar to myself.  Ever been writing a short story whist listening to Bily Joel and find that one of your final lines is, “well, she’s always a woman to me!”

Virginia Woolf – what a view! Imagine that at dusk with a slight drizzle in the air and the water running down those windows. When you read the text that accompanies this picture, you get a truly remarkable insight into how much of an idyllic lifestyle it must have been. There’s a tinge of sadness with this image as it isn’t difficult to picture Leonard Woolf finding ‘that’ letter to him on this desk and to see him rush out from the room.

Helen Simpson – organised. My room is only ever this organised after my wife has cleaned it up and I’ve not been allowed back in it yet. I love the idea that Helen utilise trestle tables (I only ever see them when wall-papering or at car-boot sales).  I’m also fascinated about how much goes into the planning for a 2000 word short story (Note to myself: must try harder!). I also cracked a wry smile when Helen talks about the paint getting yellower towards the ceiling – it reminds of that old horror story – The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Gilman

Nicola Barker – dog.

Joshua Ferris – cat.

Al Kennedy – how do I get my chair to recline like that? I like the idea that Al keeps his travelling hat and bag on display to remind himself how he can just get up and go whenever he pleases, even though he knows he can’t. Similarly in my own writing space, I keep a large rucksack and some pamphlets on local walks that I’m always looking to get around to.

Hilary Mantel – not sure how I’d feel about living in an old Asylum. However, that’s until I read about this little space, “If I feel travel would broaden the mind, I take my laptop up a spiral staircase, to a little room under the asylum clock.” Really? a secret room under an old clock.

How do these compare against your own ideal writing space, real or otherwise?

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