10 July 2017

Just Sitting Around

by Jan Grape

The other day I was just sitting around thinking about what to write for this blog. Nothing much came to mind immediately. But as luck would have it, sitting here finally gave me an idea. I'd ask some writers where they write. Do they have an office? Do they write at the dinning room table? Do they go to an actual office they rent in order to give themselves the atmosphere and the feel of a business. They need the business work place to feel the magic happen.

Through the magic of Facebook, I was able to find out how and where some writers work.

Fran Rizer, one of our Sleuthsayer family and writer the Callie Parrish books says: While I don't have an actual office, I do have a designated small room. I don't own a desk either. My computer and printer sit on an ornately carved Chinese table with a marble top. It came with a matching chair, but I use a standard roll-around office chair with arms, The table is beautiful when you can see it, which isn't often because it's usually cluttered with print-outs for proofing.

Bill Crider, who writes book in every genre but, probably best known for his Clearview, Texas Sheriff Dan Rhodes, (and for the 3 VBKs [very bad kittens] he rescued from a storm drain a little over a year ago and who have a huge following on Facebook and who were never really bad just little kittens.) Bill's upcoming Sheriff is titled, Dead To Begin With, due out in August, from Minotaur Books.
Yes, I have a office. When Judy was alive, she kept the door shut so visitors couldn't see inside. I keep it shut now because I don't want the cats to wander in and disappear. That gives you some idea of its condition. It was designed to be a small fourth bedroom, and it now holds bookshelves on three walls, some of them floor to ceiling crammed with thousands of old paperbacks. I have two computers, a printer, two scanners, an old TV set, a desk and various other items. There's not a lot of room to move around. Naturally, I love it.
Manning Wolfe, an Austin, Texas lawyer, and author of Dollar Signs, a legal mystery set in Austin says: Interesting you should ask about my office because I just re-did my space. We had Bill's mother's 1920's art deco dining room table in storage that I now use for my desk. I use both a desk top and a laptop. My picture window faces out to the patio and into the woods, I love it.

Manning desk Manning rose

I also heard from Harlan Coben,  New York Times Best-selling Author of thirty mysteries and thrillers. Most recent out is Home and upcoming is Don't Let Go, due in late September from Dutton.
He says he doesn't have a work space, that he writes where ever he happens to be sitting. Outside, at the kitchen table, on an airplane, in a hotel room.

Brendan DuBois writes: Once at Bouchceron, I heard Sue Grafton say something to the effect that she's most happiest in her office. The same is true for me. It's my time machine, my dream machine, my own place where I can write, dream, and curse. I write on trips, I write on planes and trains, but my office is my special place. It has books, mementoes, and lots of memories. Oh, and lots of clutter! In its previous life, it was a teenage girl's bedroom before me and the missus moved in. We repainted it and now it's mine, with desk, filing cabinet, and lots of books and book cases.

Brendan DuBois Brendan DuBois

Myself: I have an office, with a desk and a roll-around office chair with arms. Much like Fran described. However, I just couldn't be comfortable in there so I write sitting in my living room sofa using my laptop.

Now I'd like to hear from all of you. Tell me where and how the magic happens at your house or do you have to leave and go to an office?


  1. I used to sit tall in the saddle at an expansive desk where I spread out notes and diagrams and grilled cheese– no roses though. When God invented laptops, I took full advantage. With models like the MacBook Air, I no longer need cool-pads fans to chill my writing.

    Thanks to my friends Steve and Claire, I’m blest with Papa Bear, Mama Bear, and Baby Bear chairs. I’m sufficiently tall that the headrests of most easy-chairs shove my shoulder blades, but thanks to my Papa Bear chair I can tilt back and daydream… er, ponder my writing. Goldilocks, she’s kind enough to tiptoe whilst pretending I’m writing while dozing.

  2. I have a hard time writing in public spaces like coffee shops or libraries, even beaches, if there’s people around. I get too distracted. So my favorite place to write these days is in my home office. Not very romantic, but it's got everything I need close at hand. Probably more than I need. I know some people say you shouldn't have a TV or phone in your office, but I do. But I can turn them off. And I have a nice view. Pictures on the wall that inspire me. Mostly album covers and movie lobby cards, some other things. And, of course, my picture of Dennis Hopper flipping the bird from Easy Rider. When I was younger I had a full-sized poster of that shot, now it's just a little 8x10. Oh how we change as we get older.

    I also have access to diet Cherry Pepsi and Waiwara water. And I used to like to scarf down Red Vines while I wrote, but that is, unfortunately, a thing of the past.

    Plus I have my assistants to help out, these days two dogs. Previously two dogs and two cats. And you can’t imagine how helpful the cats on the keyboard were.

  3. Wow! I'm honored to be among such an esteemed list of writing spaces. I would like to add that like Paul, I have a hard time writing in public places. I have a friend who does over 90% of his writing at "his" table at BAM. As some of you know, I write with music--loud, old rock 'n' roll, and when my grandson was young, I'd take the laptop to Chuckie Cheese and write. No more. Music around me doesn't bother me, but people do.

  4. I'm with Paul and Fran. I won't even TRY to write in public. It feels like "showing everyone you're a writer" instead of really writing.

    My wife and I have the computer and bookshelves in the second bedroom, on the sunny side of our condo. Our cats have dibs on the "real" desk because it looks out the window. I can write at about any time of day, but like to make a start in the morning. I often do my best revising/editing in my head at the health club. I used to use an iPod there, but I found that the music interfered with the voice in my head talking about the WIP.

    I usually don't have music on while I'm writing, but I often listen to something before writing, preferably something that will match the mood of the scene in progress. Since I used to do lots of sound for theaters, I have a fair amount of classical (I prefer Baroque) and some jazz, big bands from the forties (from my parents, who were excellent dancers), some older country, and tons of blues and rock from the mid-fifties to about 2000.

    My wife also writes--rarely--and does lots of theater, so she has to learn lines and understands my need to be left alone. The cats are nowhere near as understanding.

    Coffee, yes.

  5. We turned one of the bedrooms into an office and my wife and I both have desks in it and filing cabinets and an easy chair, TV, treadmill. It's at the front of the house with plenty of windows which means I have to wear shorts in summer and pajamas in winters. Since I retired from law enforcement, it is my primary work space. I go their first thing in the morning after getting coffee and stay of the office are lined with art we've commission for our covers. It is a place where I write a lot of material. Some of it not bad stuff. Only distractions are the cats. No problem. Easist way to stop a cat from bothering me is to pick it up and hug it and hold it until it's had enough and poof ... gone for a while.

  6. I started writing as a teenager, so my bedroom doubled as my office back then. Since becoming an adult, I've nearly always had a room designated as my home office. Now I've taken over two bedrooms on one side of the house, separated by a bathroom and a short hallway. One room contains book shelves, filing cabinets, and a comfortable love seat. The other, where most of the work gets done, has my desk, computer, and more bookshelves. My desk faces the wall and on that wall is a movie poster of Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction, which I see every time I look up. The bookshelves in this room contain my books and anthologies to which I've contributed, as well as books (many autographed) by my friends, research/reference books. and toys--an entire bookshelf crammed full of little toys.

    Alas, my desk is often a mess. I used to blame the cats for the mess (they do tend to push things around), but I've finally realized it's my fault the top of my desk is a mess.

    I do sometimes write in other places--using a pencil and a legal pad, thumb typing on my phone, and so on--but ultimately everything gets finished in the office.

  7. Although I do have an office (as described above), I once wrote a short story over a period of several days in a hospital waiting room. Not an experience I want to repeat, however.

  8. I can take notes anywhere, from airports to coffee shops to buses, but the serious writing goes on in my office, with "all my own things about me". My desk is usually a mess; but my bookshelves are very well organized. And I've given up on file trays and now have a file sorter (black metal mesh, basically a five-file tray on its back like a turtle).

  9. I have a home office, and that is where I write. I couldn't write in public because every few paragraphs I stop and read what I wrote aloud. That would surely annoy others.

  10. I have a little room off the kitchen which was probably intended to be a pantry. Husband & I wired it for electricity. In Feng Shui terms it would be the wealth area of the house ... LOL. Anyway I have two computers in here, one of which is not connected to the internet & I only use it for playing games, two bookcases, a scanner, & a laser printer.

  11. Like Barb, I write in my home office, at a rickety desk in front of a gorgeous arched window. Frankenpoodle is at my side, on the brown divan.
    Since the days of having a syndicated humour column, I've had to treat writing as a job. When I sit down to write, there can be no distractions. I'm flaky that way :)

  12. Our spare bedroom is intended to be my office; landline computer, reference books in a bookcase and notes and charts tacked to a wall. But I have a laptop, so I do some of the work in the living room where Darryl is. But the bulk of my writing is done in spiral bound notebooks in pen either in the cab of my delivery truck (parked, of course!) or sitting at a table eating lunch with one hand, writing with the other! I don't have that much time to write, so I grabbed every second!

  13. I don't write fiction (I wrote academic--economics--papers), and, in my retirement I don't write much any more except blog posts. My desk is the single most expensive piece of furniture I have ever purchased, very industrial-shelving looking, with a desktop and a laptop and precarious piles of paper (even now) on it. It's in the room that was designed to be a dining room, but I got it.

  14. Rob here. What follows is a comment from Brendan Dubois, placed here with his permission. I attached the photos to Jan's article.

    Dear Jan,

    Hope you're doing well.

    Attached are two photos of me in my office.

    Once at Bouchceron, I heard Sue Grafton say something to the effect that she's most happiest in her office.

    The same is true for me.

    It's my time machine, my dream machine, my own place where I can write, dream, and curse. I write on trips, I write on planes and trains, but my office is my special place. It has books, mementoes, and lots of memories.

    Oh, and lots of clutter!

    In its previous life, it was a teenage girl's bedroom before me and the missus moved in. We repainted it and now it's mine, with desk, filing cabinet, and lots of books and book cases.

    Let me know if you need anything else.



  15. I've written this twice and both time FB closed andwent back to opening Fb page and i lost what I had written. Many thanks to all yall who responded to tell about your work space. And Brendan sorry I did not give you a final deadline. Yours came in late was it was good and I had to include it. So Rob l
    Lopresti and Leigh Luden our computer gurus mamaged to insert. Your words and your photos. I appreciate what you sent, this was a fun blog to get a tiny insight on how you make the magic Thanks everyone.


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