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  • Writer's pictureCate

A Room of One's Own...

Not so long ago, I was teaching a literature study focusing on Roald Dahl with my (then) Year 1/2 class when I became fascinated by the writing rooms of well known authors. Roald Dahl, I discovered, would retire to a shed at the end of his garden and sit in a large comfy chair with a plank of wood across the arms to lean on while he wrote.

Photos of his work space intrigued me, because it was so unlike my own, and I started searching for photos and descriptions of where people did their writing. I found a whole series on writers' rooms by The Guardian done in 2009 which helped fuel my interest ( and which I really loved.

Finding out about how different authors wrote and how they planned their days, whether they were full time writers or, like me, had to squeeze it in between their day job and family life, became a bit of a hobby for a while. I suppose I was trying to find out if there was a common thread, but what I found is that everyone is different, everyone has different things that work for them, and that the one thing, the only thing, that they all have in common is... to sit down and write.

So, this is where I sit down and write. I write straight onto the computer because my handwriting is awful (especially when I am excited - and I do get excited as I write) and typing is faster. Also, I edit as I go, playing with words, sentence structure, and sentence order, which is, oh, so easy with word processing and oh, so, messy on the page.

i use two screens, one for the document I am working on, and one for additional material I might be accessing as I write - which may be notes, inspiring pictures, or a web page (or three).

Generally, I am surrounded by books, including my dictionaries, an ancient thesaurus and my Fowler's Modern English Usage, which is my bible for those niggly little grammar points. I also have piles of books which I am reading or about to read, or, sometimes, reference books or maps, and I tend to put inspiring quotes that I have come across where I can see them, and copious amounts of pieces of paper with ideas and thoughts scribbled all over them.

it can get quite messy.

I'm lucky enough to have a whole room full of books, and a beautiful view over my back garden to the gorgeous Australian bushland surrounding my house, although it wasn't always like that. I have shared a 'study' with my kids, written on a table in the corner of the living room, and fought for space on an old desk tucked behind the bed in a very tiny bedroom.

One thing I have learned, though, is that once I am writing I am in none of those places. I am wherever my character is, seeing whatever he or she is seeing, and oblivious to my real surroundings.

But, for what it is worth, this is my personal portal to countless different worlds, and, if you should see me staring out that large window to the right of my desk, I'm probably wondering which one to visit next.

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