I had been going through a quiet patch. Not writer’s block – for I knew exactly what I needed to write – but definitely a unwillingness to sit down and actually do it.
True, I was working diligently on Murder Under My Nose, which – for a time at least – I was having to keep very much under wraps until I’d finished it, but I wasn’t really working on anything that was entirely my own. Not the Giles novels, not any of my short stories – nothing.
And that was, in a large part, down to my expectations of the impending mayhem and confusion that would be my moving home. Although I have only moved a short distance away from where I was living before, the idea of such an undertaking was so potentially stressful that I felt like I owed it to myself not to attempt to write anything in the run up to the actual move.
That and I really couldn’t summon the energy to do it…
And – do you know what?
I’m glad I didn’t write anything.
And it’s got nothing to do with my levels of concentration and tiredness – although admittedly lugging boxes of stuff up and down a road and up and down an apartment building was surely going to impact on me in that way.
It was because I was able to set myself up in entirely new surroundings. Create a work space that I felt comfortable in but – most importantly – reflected me in some way. I have spoken before about how a writer’s environment can help to influence them and aid their writing – the writer’s work space is perhaps the most crucial of these environments and here I was with an opportunity to mould it exactly the way I wanted it.
The study that I would be spending my future days forming and writing my stories in was to be a little smaller than the study I was used to – long and thin with a window that overlooks the church and graveyard. Already this was a perfect start and formed the basis of my ideas for the room.
It was already a given that I would need a desk space and that I would be joined in my study area by the turtle and the terrapin – both of whom had shared my work space since I first go them so it would be odd to not have them there looking over my shoulder anymore.
So that was my starting point.
I found a nice corner desk, one that I felt was not only convenient for my storage needs but also had an air of gothic darkness about it, and set that up near to the window. I then set up the turtles so that they would be behind me but still close enough to provide me with any inspiration that I may need.
Next came one of my bookcases – a tall, dark one on which I not only placed a selection of my books but also a selection of wooden boxes that I have collected over the years… (Yes, I collect wooden boxes, deal with it).
And that was pretty much that.
In a short period of time, I turned this light little study into the perfect workspace for me. I can now sit at my corner desk and work away for hours on end. Should I ever feel the need for inspiration, I can lean back a little and gaze up at the church tower or down at the graveyard, or I can spin around and converse with my turtle as she clambers over the skull in her tank.
It is a perfect reflection of the work that I write – dark, brooding and neat. In fact, it is so much so that my sister-in-law’s first words when she entered the room was to comment on how gothic the whole set up was. Not even the small sketch from a Winnie-the-Pooh story – that I have on the shelf next to my computer – was able to detract from the wonderfully dark environment I had created for myself. And it’s not even a case of me trying to imitate my surroundings to fit my writing – although admittedly that may have been how it started…
I have found my mind teeming with ideas and inspiration ever since I finally got round to setting up this computer on the desk. As I sit here with the window open, listening to the faint tinging of wind chimes and the heavy tolls of the church bells on the hour whilst glancing up at the collection of wooden boxes and dark wooden panels around me, I can feel the inspiration flowing over me in a way I have never experienced before.
And it is reflecting in my work.
I have finally finished The Butcher of Barclay’s Hollow in little under three days. You remember it? No, probably not – I struggled to get past the first two chapters in my old place so I didn’t really speak of it that often. Yet here, under the ancient gaze of the church tower, I have not only finished it but I have transformed it from an ill-conceived short story into a full-blown, carefully-constructed novella.
It just goes to show…
Space is important.
*Oh and for those of you who are wondering – yes, there is a hint about the plot of The Butcher of Barclay’s Hollow hidden in this post. Happy hunting.