I am fortunate to have a room to myself when I write. It’s located on the northern end of our home in Taos, and a large window in front of my desk gives me an expansive view of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the sagebrush-filled mesa and a great big sky.
The scenery is not a distraction but a nice reprieve when I raise my eyes above the laptop’s screen.
Years ago, a friend mailed me the book, “The Writer’s Desk,” which contained photos by Jill Krementz of the places where 56 famous authors write. Among them are Stephen King, Bernard Malamud, Pablo Neruda, Katharine Porters, Ralph Ellison, and Tennessee Williams.
Several like Jean Piaget’s office are seriously cluttered with paper. Krementz’ book was published in 1996 so there are museum-worthy computers, typewriters and pens. Most of the authors have windows near their desk. I jealously note E.B. White’s overlooks an ocean.
The book includes quotes from each author about the writing process. Eudora Welty said she thinks best in the morning. Amy Tan wrote, “I surround myself with objects that carry with them a personal history — old books, bowls and boxes, splintering chairs and benches from imperial China.
While admittedly not in these authors’ league, I too have a writer’s office. My husband Hank made me a desk from black walnut boards a customer said to throw away. I have other furniture he built: the arts-and-craft-style Morris chair, book cases, an end table, a filing cabinet (yes of wood), frames for the art, and a bed we use for guests. I am very lucky.
And like Amy Tan, I surround myself with objects that are so personal I don’t know if they would mean as much to others like the chunk of driftwood I found on a Block Island beach, a lobster-shaped bell that belonged to my grandmother, and other stuff I’ve picked up along the way.
The bed has a Pendleton blanket and above it a Navajo weaving, a gift from my sister Christine.
I have no source of music — I never write to it — although sometimes tunes drift in from Hank’s workshop on the other side of the wall.
My friend Teresa Dovalpage, who is an author and my collaborator for a bilingual kids series, remarked once my office was a reflection of my personality. I believe she’s right.
So when do I write? I get up early before I leave for the newsroom. I have a cup of coffee and a half bagel to get me started. And, if I take my eyes off my computer, I can watch dawn break over the landscape.
ABOUT THE PHOTO ABOVE: Yes, that’s a winter view from my office.