My Writing Space

As a lawyer in real life, I spend long hours at a desk doing a lot of legal writing.  I started writing as a way to get out of my lawyer head for a little while and just play, so I work hard to keep my novel writing separate from my legal career.  The weekdays (and nights) are reserved for legal work, while most weekends are reserved for my stories.  When I sit down to write, I don't want it to feel like work. So I don't write at a desk. Ever.

My writing space is a corner of the couch with access to a plug and a power cord, a reclining seat, and may or may not include a Saint Bernard.  It's cozy and personal and relaxing.  I can write while my family watches football and never feel too solitary.

Occasionally, I need a change of scenery or take my laptop on an adventure.  I write in coffee shops, on airplanes or alongside writing friends.  The picture on the right is from the Muses 2011 retreat in Estes Park, Colorado.

This week though, my writing space has expanded even further.  My current project takes place in New York, and I spent a few days visiting some of the locations where my scenes take place.  Armed with a camera and a small note pad, I started documenting sights, smells, and people, catching little snippets of detail that will make it into some of my pages.  I've never researched a place in this way, and I have to say that it energized my writing in ways I never expected.

I had already written a scene where my character runs down Park Avenue and stops in front of a skyscraper.  In the scene, she sits on the marble steps and debates turning back the way she came.  I went to the building I had in mind when I originally wrote the scene and sat on those very same steps, feeling the cold concrete seeping through my clothes and trying to find something interesting about the place.  Then I looked across the street and saw exactly what I was looking for.  In the courtyard of the building across the way was a 20 foot tall bronze statute of a mouse. The mouse had stitched eyes and sharp claws raised to attack.  A few feet away stood a small marble bench, right in the path of the mouse. The image of my character sitting on that bench, staring at the mouse's claws, was far more interesting to me than the one I had originally created.  I crossed the street and snapped this picture.  Guess where my character runs to now?

I loved this guerilla style of writing.  Finding snippets of people, places and images that were far more interesting than anything I could imagine on my own.  So it looks like my writing space has just gotten significantly larger. 

Look out world.  Have camera, notebook and laptop, will travel.


Sounds like you had a great time location scouting! I love exploring new places, and you are dead right: it's the choices we make about locations and people that bring richness to the writing! It was lovely to see you in NY!

What fun! I love that aspect of research, when sometimes I didn't even realize I was looking for something, until I find it.

Also - I'm looking forward to reading the New York book!

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