Locked in Her Office or Terms of Imprisonment.

Liz in Office Chaos

Ask any successful writer what their secret is and the honest ones will tell you the truth, that you actually have to write. Sure, there are amazing moments of inspiration when you wake from the most awesome dream and have an IDEA. There are days when you stop short in a crowded street and giggle maniacally at your own personal revelation while people detour carefully around you, hoping your condition isn’t contagious. There are days when you talk to yourself and answer in the voices of half a dozen of your invisible friends. Getting inspired to tell a story is fun.

Unfortunately, in order to become an author, you have to write a report about it. Spelling and punctuation count and if it’s a really complex tale, the assignment can stretch into hundreds or even thousands of carefully typed, double spaced pages. It can involve several rewrites, painstaking research and eventually, acquiring a collection of computer skills. You learn that what once sounded like a romantic, fun, and easy way to make a living is actually a lot of hard work. Work that requires concentration and silence and freedom from distractions. If you can, you carve out an office for yourself.

I’ve had several over the years, some as small as the corner of the master bedroom, some as large as a full basement. My current office is set up in my grown son’s former bedroom. In a noisy household, it is my quiet haven, filled with things that make me feel happy and well-organized. The window is a jungle of houseplants. There are fairy houses and clown wigs, juggling balls and musical instruments, spring-loaded jelly bean cans and a cardboard replica of Xena’s chakrum. There are writing books, music books, thirty years worth of journals, stacks of office supplies, and tons of manuscripts. I could say I keep the door locked so all my stuff won’t explode out of the office and not be entirely joking.

In truth, the door stays shut to close out the noise so I can hear myself think. I like my solitude and I need it to get any work done. It’s an odd, contradictory thing to have to lock myself up in order to free my mind, but that is how it seems to work.

Closeted away from the disruptive world, I get down to the hard work of organizing my half-baked ideas into intelligible stories, then go over them and fix the punctuation and spelling and plot holes. I pace the floor, muttering dialogue to myself and returning to the computer to re-type it again and again until it sounds right. I scratch my head over tutorials and fight to get my computer writing software to perform functions needed to format my manuscripts. I pore over the my beta reader’s critiques and ponder whether I have a good story and why ever took up writing in the first place.

The reason is that writing novels is what I’ve wanted to do since the third grade. I made preparations in high school and college, learning to type, taking advanced English courses. Then life made it’s demands, the years flew by and I realized there was only one way to make it happen.

Thus I chose the terms of my imprisonment. Time runs short and stories do not write themselves, so I am usually in my office. It’s my own personal hell, heaven, sanctuary, and asylum.

It’s ruled over by a harsh task mistress, but that’s a story for another day . . .

ROW#80 Check in.
The good news is after some initial technical difficulties, the formatting of my book is moving along nicely. I find myself singing “Paperback Writer” quite often of late. 🙂

The bad news is I still have not made any progress on my newer novel and the hours of work I need to make up have climbed to seven. Fortunately, I’m nearly caught up on the backlog of formatting, and am hopeful this will free up time to get some creative work done.  That’s my goal for the days ahead, to catch up and keep up.

I hope you are making progress on your own task list and that your office areas are seeing a lot of production.



3 thoughts on “Locked in Her Office or Terms of Imprisonment.

  1. I don’t have an office; I have a study. It’s just the end of the living room, partitioned by three tall bookcases bolted to form a “wall.” with a bamboo curtain I can close for something kind of like privacy.

    I’m not using it much lately. I’ve been watching the Olympics, and PBS, and Star Trek (#itswritingresearch!),and there’s no TV in there. So I’m writing on my bed, the way I have since i was a little girl.

    I’ll eventually get back to my somewhat disheveled little corner of the house, and then I plan to sit in my comfy chair, sip coffee, and create – maybe while listening to Hamilton or Paul Simon.

    Now I kind of want the Olympics to be over!

    May the formatting issues iron out, and leave you more creative time!

  2. Your post reminded me of the intro to Ray Bradbury Theater:

    My current office in at one end of a long meeting table with my husband working at the other end. Sometimes I swear he thinks he’s using an old manual typewriter, the way he hits the keys. He’s a very enthusiastic writer. Luckily, I have headphones…

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