A Writing Room of My Own

“Women, then, have not had a dog’s chance of writing poetry. That is why I have laid so much stress on money and a room of one’s own.”

Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own

Way back in July, I posted this about creating a room to write.  Life happened, things changed, I moved.  Finally, nine months later (the same time it takes to gestate a human youngling), I’m finally ready to share some photos of my writing room. Woo hoo!  I’m posting this on April 15, Tax Day, with the idea/hope that maybe at some point in 2012 I’ll be selling my writing (even if it is independently published) and I will finally be able to claim that home office deduction I’ve heard so much about.

Fair warning:  This photo tour of my writing space is NOT worthy of a spread in Where Women Create, but it is mine all mine (at least for now).

View of my writing desk as you walk into the room. I cannot write with my back to a door...especially now that I'm working on a ghost story.

When sitting at my desk, I can look to my right and see this. It's a Novel Mood Board, an inspirational tool I created to help me "get into the mood" of my current work in progress.

This little nook is next to the mood board. Sometimes it's easier to relax and plunge into pure first draft writing in this space, but I cannot seem to edit or blog from here.

I found this "blast from the past" for $20 in an antique mall. Sometimes I like to indulge in a little "old school" typing. No, I don't compose novel chapters or short stories on this baby, but it is a fun creativity exercise to type up a quick free verse poem or a list of things that make me feel happy and grateful to be alive. There's something deeply satisfying in the bullet-like report of an electric typewriter key striking paper.

This may be the best part of the room. I have a whole closet of bookshelves! It's like an Aladdin's cave of literature. And I don't have to care about how messy my bookshelves get. I can just close the door and voila! What mess?

The other half of the room, viewed from the doorway. I like to think of this as my dreaming couch. Actually, it is more like Zoey the cat's dreaming couch. I don't think I've sat on it more than 5 times since we moved here.

And this is my view as I am writing, editing and blogging...which reminds me, I promised myself I would try to get in a good hour of work on my novel before we head out for our Sunday hike. As my favorite Jedi Master likes to say, "Do or do not, there is no try."

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Bookstore of the (Hopefully, Not Too Distant) Future (Part 2)

Last month, I wrote this post about bookstores and shared this fantastical, dreamy blog post from Susan Kaye Quinn.

Now I’m going to take my turn and describe the bookstore I’m planning to create as soon as I win the lottery. Or find a rich relative to bump off invest in my dreams. Or work up the nerve to beg for dollars in the Shark Tank.

I’d start building my bookselling paradise around three little words: Espresso Book Machine. Have you seen this thing?!?! It’s the one, super incredible ingredient that could guarantee my bookstore’s success. Check it out!

It’s kinda like Redbox for books! Okay, reality check. It’s expensive…REALLY expensive. And it doesn’t have the ability to print every book that’s currently in print. But I’m telling you, if they ever figure out a way to link Amazon’s vast inventory of new books to this whiz-bang baby….WOW! Book buying (and selling) UTOPIA!!

Of course, I wouldn’t be able to let the unwashed masses browse or cough or drool over my lovely literary machine. So I would need lots of touch screen browsing for books.

Like this:

Touch Screen Table by 3M. Photo by PopCultureGeek.

Shhhhh…Can you hear the traditionalist book lovers whimpering right now? “Oh, no! No, no, no. I don’t like touch screens or online shopping. I’m old-fashioned! I need the pleasures of touching and fondling many books before I can buy one!”

STOP the whining! I could easily print color versions of the front and back covers of most new releases, classics, IndieNext favorites, local authors, award winners, etc, etc and laminate them so that my touchy-feely customers may lovingly stroke and caress many book covers…while I would only need to invest a FRACTION of what it costs for an independent bookseller to order a decent stock of books in today’s market. And I LOVE a healthy mix of old and new, so I would definitely include a Used section in my bookstore.

Check it…that’s same day access to an unlimited inventory of books AND plenty of physical books to touch. Woo hoo! Everybody’s happy!

Next most important ingredient: Location, Location, Location.

Here is where my business sense checks out and my emotional, environmentally conscious, community-minded, mystorical soul checks in. My bookstore simply MUST be located in a historic building. Remember this Cleveland, GA beauty? Even better, the historic Hillcrest home in Dahlonega, GA. Why go historic? Because, in my bookstore, there must be:

  • a palpable sense of history
  • multiple rooms
  • ancient, time-warped wood floors
  • an old-fashioned southern porch (with rockers)
  • at least one working fireplace
  • all sorts of uneven nooks and crannies
  • the possibility (plausibility?) of one or two ghosts oozing and popping about the place.

Why? Just BECAUSE. Historic properties vibrate on a whole different frequency than normal retail space…they whisper softly of possibilities.

Okay, what else?

I’m an animal lover, so there simply must be a rescue pet (or two) who calls my bookstore home. I love rescue cats and there’s always a plethora of homeless felines. That said, there used to be a ridiculously sweet rescue greyhound that greeted the customers at “M” is for Mystery bookstore in San Mateo, CA. He was something so special and unforgettable…and there are always plenty of greyhounds looking for forever homes over at Southeastern Greyhound Adoption.

What else? Like SK Quinn, I believe in offering some food and beverages:

  • coffee and bakery goods (plus some fruit) in the mornings
  • tea and cookies (maybe some savory gourmet munchables) in the afternoon
  • wine (with cheese, fruit and crackers) for evening events

We’re almost there. But I’d like to take it to a whole new level with a second, super incredible ingredient for success. This next ingredient is a bit of a pipe dream, possibly harder to obtain than the Espresso Book Machine, but the most important refreshment I’d want on my bookstore premises would be my beloved Coca-Cola Freestyle Machine.

Oh man! Give me a way to browse the latest IndieNext selections with a lime + raspberry Sprite Zero in my hand and I am in HEAVEN.

Honestly, I think I could make the bookstore successful from there, but there’s plenty more I’d like to do:

  • Creative writing classes/weekend seminars
  • Critique groups
  • Writing contests
  • Author events (including Skype & Twitter chat events)
  • Storytelling (NOT just for kiddies)
  • Arts & Crafts classes, esp. related to upcycling old books
  • Mystery parties
  • Literary trivia contests and scavenger hunts
  • Open Mike readings & Poetry slams

Oh my! The list could go on and on and on.

Last, but not least, I think I’d want to offer resources and support specifically targeted toward authors interested in indie publishing. Ah, but Indie publishing is a whole ‘nuther topic for a whole ‘nuther day. Coming soon….very soon. I promise!!

What have I missed? Would anyone else out there care to take a turn at fantasy bookstore world-building?

PS: I’ve added a new page to highlight my first novel, Not So Long Ago, Not So Far Away (currently in submissions) with a brief sample. What do you think? I would love some feedback!