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This Writing Life: On Gazebos and Writing Spaces

10 November, 2010

Following a link somewhere on the blogosphere this week, I came across this post by Doyce Testerman. What the post is really about is all the little things we do that make use feel like writers, even though we’re not actually writing. In the end, it’s all procrastination. However, the start of the post is about Neil Gaiman’s writing gazebo (trust me, it makes sense if you read the whole post – I’m butchering it here) which made me start thinking about writing spaces.

It’s very easy to tell ourselves, as learning writers, that we’d be so much more productive if only we had the perfect writing space. For some people, it would be that gazebo in the woods, isolated and peaceful. For others, it might be as simple as having a desk or a laptop, instead of having to write with pencil and paper whilst on the bus to work. I’m somewhere towards the gazebo end of the spectrum, but thinking that made me take a good, hard look at where I do write and why I wish it were different.

I’ll illustrate this with a picture:


This is my desk, taken just a few minutes ago (excuse the terrible photo, but it was taken on my phone and it’s difficult to get far enough away from the desk in my tiny office to fit all of it into the shot). It’s a bit of a mess, but you can also see that it’s a big desk with a decent computer. Not only that, but it’s in a room which is entirely my own. A small room, granted, but I still have my own office. I can go in, close the door and start writing, without being interrupted.

This, then, would be some people’s idea of writing heaven. Really, when I think about it, it’s a lot more than I actually need to be able to write. I could manage with that pencil and paper, rested on my knee or on the kitchen table. I don’t particularly want to write like that, but I could. This idea that I could be more productive, more creative, if I was working from a gazebo in the woods is complete rubbish.

We are, I think, coming back to what Doyce Testerman was originally getting at it. You could have Gaiman’s gazebo or you could be writing on the bus, but none of that really matters. Worrying about things that you can’t currently change – like where you write – is meaningless. It’s getting the words down that is important, no matter where or how you’re doing it.

Having thought all this, will I still pine for a gazebo? Of course. But I’ll also remember that I’m lucky enough to have an office and a desk and a computer, and that not having a gazebo shouldn’t be an excuse for not writing.

  1. 10 November, 2010 4:07 pm

    *whispers* I pine for the gazebo, too.


    • 12 November, 2010 12:55 pm

      Hi, Doyce! Well, I suppose the gazebo has to be something to strive towards. As are most things associated with Neil Gaiman’s career!

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