Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Work Space

I find myself contemplating workspace. With the move this weekend, it’s my opportunity to set up an area (were it a room to itself…ah…that’ll be the day!) that I can use for my primary writing location.

As some of you know by now, my favorite office is a table at whatever coffee shop I happen to be near. That probably won’t change. I love being surrounded by people when I work. But what I would like to change is the percentage of work (and by work, I mean actual pages written on my manuscript) I am able to accomplish at home.

I’ve got some sort of block when it comes to writing prose at home. It’s not that I haven’t done it, nor continue to do it, it’s just that it doesn’t happen very often. So I’m looking at this move as an opportunity to change that mode of thinking. Fresh place, fresh start.

Let’s start with the desk. A lot of people love a large working space. Someplace you can either spread out a lot of things on, or keep clean and empty to help unclutter your mind. (Clutter might be a good future post…me = not so go at keeping the clutter away.) I used to be a big desk person, too. My previous desk now serves as my dinning table. The key word there is now. When it was my desk a few years ago, it was my desk.

These days, I like my desk small. My current desk, and the one I will keep using after the move is 2 ¾ feet across by 2 feet deep. Tiny. And I love it. It has a nice, light pine finish on top, with a dark stained edge. It’s a nice wooden table that looks like it came straight from a nice furniture shop. But the secret is, it didn’t. Or at least it didn’t get to me that way.

I found it abandoned outside an apartment building. And don’t worry, I waited several hours before I laid claim the table, checking every so often to see if it was still there, sitting only a few feet away from a dumpster. In my mind, I saved the poor thing from certain disaster at the city dump.

…now I feel compelled to say I NEVER have done anything like that before or since. That was my one and only refuse “purchase”…stop judging me… oh, wait…that’s me judging myself…sorry….

Anyway, the desk will be the centerpiece of my new work space. I’ve staked out a place for it under a window overlooking a large green space.

So besides the desk?

Sound system will be important. But since my music will actually be generated from my computer, I just need to plug in a good set of speakers.

My chair is a nice, old-fashion wooden office chair on wheels. It tilts backwards and rocks a little if I want. Think I purchased it from some fancy furniture store about ten years ago. It’s a little scratched up, now though. Once, when I was transporting it in the back of a truck, I hadn’t secured it properly and it flew out onto the highway. It’s a wonder it didn’t shatter into splinters. It still works great.

There are a few things I’m going to need for this new space. A couple of filing cabinets so I don’t have to leave everything in boxes. And some book cases…Yes, I do have book cases already, but all the real estate on their shelves has already been claimed twice over.

I’m sure there will be a few other additions once I get settled in.

But the truth is, the best office furniture in the world won't make a difference. The most important thing will be that I believe it's a place where I can work and be creative. Yep...it's all psychology.

How about you? What’s your workspace like? Is it they way you want it? What would you change?

(in no particular order)

1. K.T. Tunstall – Eye to the Telescope
2. U2 – All That You Can’t Leave Behind
3. John Coltrane – Blue Train
4. Green Day – American Idiot
5. Tan Dun & Yo Yo Ma – Soundtrack to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
6. The Who – Quadrophenia
7. Tei Towa – Future Listening!
8. Sergio Mendes – Timeless
9. My Morning Jacket – Z
10. Billie Holiday – The Complete Decca Recordings


JT Ellison said...

Another person who has feelings for inanimate objects. You really are sharing the brain, aren't you? I once saved a chair from certain death -- it was about to go down the trash chute at my old apartment building. We saved him, taped him up (it was a big red leather hobnailed banker's chair) and he did his job admirably for many years. I finally had to get a new one a couple of years ago.
I find it fascinating that you haven't written in your own quiet space, only coffeehouses. Should be interesting to see how the transition goes. Since I work at home, I have a bedroom converted into an office, with a big assed desk, comfy chair, decent sound, the works. But every once in a while, I'll pack up the junk and head to Starbuck's, work in a new envirnoment. It's a great change, but my office is my life.
And I've apparently got the chats today.:)

Sandra Ruttan said...

My God, we're triplets separated at birth.

If the inanimate objects in my office aren't organized just right, I have a hard time working, I get distracted. It isn't that there's order in here - I'm queen of clutter - but if my husband moves anything, I get annoyed because now my clutter's been disturbed.

Maybe, since you like people and all that, pick a window with a good view and plenty of traffic, if that's an option.

I prefer working in solitude, though.

Brett Battles said...

I don't know what it is about working in a busy coffee house (usually Starbucks...there are two and soon to be three within walking distance of my place.) I guess I like the distraction it provides when I look up and need to take a break. I like looking out the window at other businesses and finding the name of a character or place.

It is definitely a visual thing for me. Audio-wise, I've always got my iPod going...

I think working at home might be too quiet.

I was even at Starbucks when I original got the call from Ugly Town to buy my book.

Sandra Ruttan said...

I hope you have shares in Starbucks!

"quiet" means you don't have the excuse of distractions! I'm incredibly unfocused right now, what with four wriggling kittens in my office!

Brett Battles said...

...see, this is why I need someone to handle my massive fortune...shares in Starbucks? D'uh...

(By massive, I, of course, mean the COMPLETE opposite.)

tammy sparks said...

Brett, you are so weird. (I mean that in the nicest way, of course.) I am so jealous that you live alone and actually have the option of writing in the silence of your house! I myself have no "office" or private writing space at all. My computer is on the dining room table, and there it will stay unless I either move or convince my kids to share a room. The Starbucks thing, I don't think I could bear the thought of people reading over my shoulder...

Brett Battles said...

Tammy, kids love tents. Maybe you could convince them to permanently move into your backyard.

And as far as anyone looking over my shoulder reading my screen...I look at it as cultivating potential readers. Of course that doesn't mean it's worked yet.

Anonymous said...

Just a small thought (about the only kind I can muster up these days :). You have done really great work with your current set up, I have always been of the school of thought, if it ain't broke don't fix it. (just fyi I live in the South now and "ain't" is a perfectly acceptable word. It goes along with caint (I caint see a daggum thing in here) and own (well turn the daggum light own).
Although changing your work set up may give you a whole new set of thoughts and inspiration. hmmm, intriguing...
ps I am really enjoying getting to know your writer friends here. A very interesting group of folks indeed :).

Brett Battles said...

Glad you are enjoying it here, Theresa. You are welcome here all the time, and your continued commenting is encouraged!

(Everyone, Theresa is another of my longtime friends. She's known me from before I could vote. It always makes me smile when she drops in to comment. Now if she could only remember the password to her ID...)