The surface of my desk is made of heavy ceramic tiles that remind me of the Mediterranean. In reality, it was meant as a garden table but its sunny disposition makes it the perfect desk, one that, as heavy as it is, has been trailing me for the last 20 years. If I look up from it, a framed poster that sofa girl discovered on-line reminds me that “Shopping counts as cardio”. At my feet, the dogs nap on the rug, lulled by the soft purring of the keyboard.
This room must have been a den at some point, maybe a tv room in a previous incarnation, as it’s off the sitting room, with French doors that open onto it and from which it draws natural light, but it has no windows to claim its own. When I am sitting here, it’s like being in a cocoon, away from the phone, from the rest of the house, and from the outside view. Sometimes I will drag my laptop to the kitchen but, invariably, the wildlife in the backyard, or the ocean view beyond it, will mess with the natural flow of my thoughts. The cocoon works better. Here I am surrounded by the stacks of books, read and unread, that I feel I should keep close; I am prodded by the four teddy bears I am too embarrassed to display anywhere else in the house; my ancestors pass judgement from the sepia photos hanging on the wall and a few gold discs and all access passes remind me of the path that brought me here.
I can work or write pretty much anywhere I can set up a laptop but this room feels truly mine. There were no compromises to be made – everything in here is me. But I am in the process of renovating it, shifting some furniture around, moving the day bed upstairs, making room for another bookcase (how is it that, e-readers notwithstanding, I have more books without a proper home?) and, while I was mulling how to rearrange things, I received an interesting story on the working spaces of some great artists.
Some have interesting traits in common: the sparseness of E.B White and Jane Austen; the messiness of Roald Dahl, Will Self, Marc Chagall and William Buckley; the symmetry of Miro’; the “Englishness” of Nigella Lawson and Rudyard Kipling.
The oriental touches of Yoko Ono and John Lennon are a sweet reminder of times gone by. In Colm Toibin’s space I recognize the cocoon syndrome and one of my favorite writers, Martin Amis, clearly likes to surround himself with what he holds dear (like a ratty leather chair).
Do they give an insight into the inner workings of their minds? You be the judge.
For the entire selection, see here
Many thanks to Bonnie for the inspiration
Bookcase photo copyright of C&S