Friday, June 29, 2007

The writer's workspace

Is that Will Turner, Captain Jack Sparrow and Elizabeth Swann striding out of the fog to make sure I haven't committed a severe cast of character head hopping? Is Will swinging toward my computer keyboard to make sure I don't take the plot of my latest story in the wrong direction? Not exactly. These two posters are among the latest additions to my office walls, part of the inspiration of the solitary writer. The three Pirates of the Caribbean movies were stories that captured my imagination and didn't let go. Those are the types of stories I want to write. Will, Jack and Elizabeth are the types of captivating characters I want to write. Thus, they're now on my wall to inspire me.

Readers are often fascinated by what a favorite writer's workspace looks like. I'm a writer myself, and I'm often curious about the spaces in which authors type the words I later enjoy. Particularly if you're a visual writer, I think it's important to surround yourself with various bits of inspiration, be those movie posters, inspiring quotes or lists of goals. I have all of those things on the walls surrounding me and more. So here's a little tour of my writer's environs.

The Elvish army from Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers greets you as you walk through the door of my office. The LOTR trilogy was also bigger than life, full of great stories and characters. Soundtracks are another love of mine, and I happen to be listening to the LOTR: The Two Towers soundtrack as I type this.

I write young adult novels, so I enjoy watching television programs and movies that appeal to the younger demographic. The CW TV network caters to this demographic, and I'm a big fan of two of their shows -- Supernatural and Smallville. I was a fan of Veronica Mars too, but VM's now gone. Boohoo! Next to the CW posters is my filing cabinet full of story ideas, magazine clippings of "character" pictures, completed manuscripts, past issues of the Romance Writers Report, etc. On the side are clippings of more favorite characters -- the cast of Bones and Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy the Vampire Slayer. There are also a number of book-cover magnets. Atop the filing cabinet are books written by friends.

Rejection is part of the writer's life, no matter how much we dislike it. To counter the negative feelings rejections bring, I've covered my walls with framed certificates from contests I've either won or placed in.

There's also a framed poster of my category from the first year I finaled in the Golden Heart, one of the biggest boosts I've had in my career so far.

Above my computer is a corkboard filled with tidbits such as my lists of goals for the year, quotes, trinkets from conferences, pictures of writing friends along with one of my agent and me at the Reno Golden Heart Awards. There's a bumper sticker for, fortunes from fortune cookies and "Firefly Life Lessons" from another favorite show that's now gone, Firefly. Among my favorites -- "Sometimes the voices in your head are right." To the right, you'll notice two more small LOTR posters.

I love to travel, and I'm a big lover of America's national parks, so I also have some wall decor that highlights those facts. Here are two framed photos I took on my honeymoon 14 years ago -- one of a sunrise at Myrtle Beach, the other of Hickory Nut Falls in North Carolina's Chimney Rock Park, film location for The Last of the Mohicans, one of my all-time favorite movies. Next to them are official National Park Service maps of the entire NPS system and one of Yellowstone National Park, one of my favorite places. What do these things have to do with writing? If I sell oodles of books, I get to travel to more places like them. :)

And what's a writer's office without crammed bookshelves?

So, if you're a writer, what does your workspace look like and include that inspires you? If you're not a writer, are you curious about your favorite authors' work areas?


Anna Sugden said...

Oh to have an office! I will when we go home, but for now, my little corner of the living room has to suffice.

Great post Trish - I love seeing author's writing spaces too. I want SEP's desk!

My wall is filled with pictures too. Of my writing pals, my beloved Kooka who passed earlier this year, gorgeous hubby, me with my hero Scott Stevens *drool* (he's the inspiration for the hero of my hockey book), me with the Stanley Cup, mock book covers my friend Christyne Butler does for me as inspiration, the Chrome Shop Mafia (from Trick my Truck - one of my fave TV shows) and my fab niece and nephew.

I also have my Molly plaque, my latest contest final notes (I'm saving the certificates until I go home and can get my favourite framer to do them), last year's 06Packer badge and lots of little love notes from DH.

On my desk is Heidi (again thanks to Christyne), various gifts from my pals and some of the kids I taught, the flowers from FTH and some Devils trinkets.

The bookshelf next to my desk has penguins, writing books and other writing junk, computer games, more Devils trinkets (are we spotting a pattern here?), a china shoe from Lindsey Brookes, more photos and a lovely framed plaque from my teacher friends.

And the other thing usually in my writing space - one of my two cats!

Caren Crane said...

Wow, Trish, I am impressed with your collection of paraphernalia! Like Anna, I have a corner--a very humblecorner--of our library where I squeezed in a desk. This room has no door, only an open doorway into our foyer. Sound echoes in from the den, which is the "family room" if you're not Southern.

It's a very small, cheap student computer desk (no shelves or anything, just a desk surface and keyboard tray. The only token of my writing I have is my framed Golden Heart certificate from last year. (Of course, I am not a visually-oriented person, so I don't need to "see" things!)

All the other certificates and plaques from contests are in a pile of writing-related stuff. I'm waiting for Jeanne's talk at the conference about organizing your work space. I think I need it!

Natalie said...

Hmmm, Trish. I notice that you titled the post "The writer's workspace" but you didn't show us the actual WORK space!

Where's the picture of your desk? LOL

Trish Milburn said...

LOL, Natalie. Actually, my desk is just below the cork board and two small LOTR posters. It's L-shaped, one of those cheap press-wood things you get at Office Max and have to assemble yourself. We've moved it twice, which entails taking it partially apart. I have a wonderful flat-screen monitor hubby got me for Christmas, and the wireless network for our computers sits next to it. Behind me is a folding table that has the printer and some additional surface space.

Anna and Caren, I feel very fortunate to have an office. Until we bought our house, I always had either a corner of our bedroom or a portion of a guest bedroom in our apartments.

Jo Davis said...

Your office could double for mine! Very cool to see your space. I have framed awards on the walls, crammed bookshelves, piles of papers that need filing, and of course, many pics of my favorite hotties all around for inspiration! (Jon Bon Jovi, Richie S., Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom...)

Like Natalie, I was curious to see your desk. If it's like mine, you'd need a shovel to find the surface! :)

Christie Kelley said...

Love the post with all the pictures, Trish. I'm in a very open office which is driving me crazy (was the small family room). My husband works from home and his office is near mine and he uses the speaker phone all the time.

I'm just hanging in until we get started on our remodel. Once it's finished I'll have an office with a door and a fireplace :) Yep, a gas fireplace! We are expanding out and will use the new space as our family room/dining/kitchen area. So the remodelers will make our current living room into my office.

Trish Milburn said...

Jo, funny you should mention Bon Jovi. They're one of my all-time favorite bands. I just blogged about them on my personal blog yesterday at

Christie, cool on the remodel. I can't imagine trying to think while you're husband's on the speaker phone. I loathe speaker phone.

DMacMeans said...

Trish -
Loved the pictures of your office. I have an "official" office where I mostly do accounting stuff. THat's the one with all the cool stuff - 'cause when you need a break from taxes, you need to see something creative - like the dragon kite hanging from my ceiling.

For writing, I take my laptop either to the back porch (most of my writing is done there) or to the dining room table in increment weather. No posters, figurines or other distractions there. My characters are distracting enough!

Joan said...

Ok, I'm sitting here in my office (my third bedroom) being stared at by a stuffed penguin, polar bear, goat (with golden crown) and a hedgehog (I think he just felt jealous and snuck in)

I also have a framed picture that says "Take time to Dream" and a rock I...ummm...lifted from the shores of Doolin, Ireland (sometimes...knowing there is magic in Ireland...I will place this rock on top of my submissions).

Keeping with the Irish magic theme I have a beautiful stain glass square of celtic knots...ok, ok. I'll admit it loses something being on a wall instead of in a window.

I've never framed my certificates though my friends have urged me to. But I know where they are and I take them out now and again and look at them :-)

Aunty Cindy said...

I LOVE Chimney Rock Park! Matter of fact, my mouse pad says "Greetings from Chimney Rock" because we went there a few years ago when we visited friends who'd moved to Asheville, NC.

As for my office, take a look at Jenny Crusie's work space to get an idea of what mine is like. :-P My desk is under the only window and I LOVE looking out at the green lawn. I can also see the mailman on his way too and from the boxes and if he is carrying large brown envelopes, I DO NOT HURRY to check the mail! LOL!

On my window sill are a bunch of little dust catchers including a conch shell I bought on my first trip to Hawaii, an engraved crystal rose my local chapter gave me last year when I finaled in the GH, a white glass replica of the Leaning Tower of Pisa that says CHEESE on the 6th story windows (it's supposed to hold Parmesan) and an oval vase with a sketch of the Rialto bridge complete with gondola.

You office looks FAB-U-LOUS, but I doubt I could concentrate in the midst of all those hunks!


Trish Milburn said...

LOL, Aunty Cindy. I find the hunks inspiring. I can see my mailbox from my office window too.

Joan, love the sound of the Irish stuff. I'm of Irish descent, so I have a fondness for all things Irish.

Trish Milburn said...

Donna, I meant to say that I often work at the dining room table or on the comfy couch with my laptop too. In fact, I wrote an entire chapter today on the laptop while sitting in the corner section of the sectional couch.

Suzanne Welsh said...

My cave....hmmm, I carved out a spot in my front room, which will someday be a dining room. My dh bought me a computer desk with a hutch a few years back. I turned it to face out so my back was to the wall. On one side is a window to the front of the house, so I have daylight in the mornings and I can see the mailbox in the afternoon. On the otherside is the kitchen. (Sigh, this makes the fridge a little too close on late nights!)

This past spring my dh built me a cherry finish 5-shelf 6-foot tall book case, that nestles between the wall and the kitchen door. On it are research books, a small fraction of my keeper books, a fan, paper, notebooks with manuscripts on it, mailing supplies, and two gold silk roses my chapter gave me last year for finaling in the GH.

Inspiration, I have a card from my dh and my daughter & son-in-law. Hanging on the desk is a poem my dh wrote for me, two small pictures of Sean Bean as Boromir from LOTR. A card with the torso of a cowboy in jeans and chaps, and a t-shirt hangs where I can see it, and the very inspiring erotica cover from my friend Jo Carlisle of a naked warrior kneeling sideways over his sword, (Yeah you guys know the one!)

On the desk is a printer, the computer, and several stacks of different papers.
As you approach my "office" space, their are four posters taped to the outside, 2 have art by my daughter with romance quotes or statistics on them. The other 2 posters say "Warning: Writer in Create Mode, Enter At Your Own Risk." Which everyone ignores.

Today the only thing missing is Rocky the 80# wonder dog. My dh is home so Rocky is busy begging for a walk instead of laying on my feet.

MaryF said...

Hey, love the posters!!! You'll feel at home when you come visit. I also have a Buffy poster. Alas, I don't write in that room. I write in the living room where all the action is ;)

Christine Wells said...

I love those posters, Trish! I lost my office when the new baby came, so our bedroom doubles as my workspace, which essentially means I have a bookcase and a very tiny desk and that's pretty much it.

I used to have things all over my walls and cork board--pictures of English landscapes including settings I was going to use in the current book, people who looked like my characters, plaques from contest wins, postcards from Pride&Prejudice, all sorts of promo material from writer friends, my gorgeous prints of the over-the-top Brighton Pavillion. I really miss my office!