For a couple of years when I was growing up, most of my family’s “new” possessions started out in the house next door. Our neighbors were wealthier than we were – especially when Dad was out of work and mom was a student teacher – and they regularly gave us the things they outgrew or grew bored of.
I don’t remember there being any stigma attached – all us kids were good friends and it didn’t seem to matter to any of us whether the toys were kept at their house or ours. The only time I remember being uncomfortable was when I tried to fit into the girl next door’s hand-me-downs.
Ever seen a squat, busty 12 year old try to squeeze herself into a dress that had fit a lithe surfer girl? That was me at sixth-grade graduation.
But I digress.
My mom also received hand-me-downs from the mom next door, but hers came in the form of furniture and magazines. Our neighbor had excellent taste, and she redecorated fairly regularly so we always had beautiful things, just a couple of years the wrong side of brand new.
I loved it most when mom got magazines because they were always about home decor. Mom encouraged me to cut out pictures I liked and put them in a scrapbook alongside descriptions of what my house would one day look like.
I have no idea where those books are now, but I vividly remember writing about the items I chose and imagining spending my adulthood in a home I’d created myself.
Before long, I began picturing myself as a writer in that home, and it’s an image that’s stuck with me all these years.
I’m sure most writers think about what their ideal writing space would be. Some are lucky enough to have their own room, or a basement to convert, or a little annex in the back yard where they can create the best atmosphere for their imagination to thrive.
I have a couch, and I balance my netbook on a pillow, but I find it difficult to concentrate when the flat’s messy.
Sometimes I go to Starbucks and mentally block out the music, but if other customers are having a bizarre conversation I find it hard to ignore.
If money were no object, I would create the same dream space I imagined as a kid (does that mean I haven’t matured?). It would be a log cabin on a tranquil emerald lake. There would be no spooky felled trees at the bottom of the lake, unlike the only lake I’ve ever swum in (somewhere in Washington state), which gave me the willies.
The cabin would be surrounded by wildflowers for most of the year. Of course, they’d change with the seasons.
I’d be able to see the next-closest cabin through the trees in the distance – too far to be overlooked but close enough to call for help (I read too many slasher mysteries as a kid, clearly).
I’d have a daybed on the sleeping porch for really hot nights and a sleigh bed piled high with Grandma’s handmade quilts for snowy nights.
I’d take my netbook down to my personal dock to write. Sometimes I’d write while lazing around in my rowboat.
Oh, and there would be no mosquitoes, no stinging insects, and nothing that buzzes past your ear. Only pretty bugs allowed.
But most of all, I’d have earned enough to pay someone else to clean my cabin. Hey – I have to be realistic about my dreams, right?
If you could create your own space to write in, what would it look like? What are the most important details to get right in your writing space?