Burning Question #16: Where do you write? What’s your routine?
It’s a nook off the far end of the family room. Snug. Cozy. The size of a large closet. Full of things I can’t throw out, things that will encourage me, comfort me, keep me company. No one else goes in there. Except maybe to help with the computers.
As I write, I face my favorite wall made of brick, which has windows to the woods. Windows also open up the wall to my left. The table behind me is covered with bills; above it are shelves filled with reference books.
Under the table covered with bills is a carton overflowing with things that belonged to my mother. I haven’t sorted through it since I packed it after she died. It’s full of odds and ends that couldn’t be discarded but weren’t the kind to be displayed as knickknacks or locked up as heirlooms. Her diary from college is in that box, written half in French, no doubt so her parents wouldn’t be able to read it. I don’t read French either, but I like having that diary close by, here in my little room. My father’s jar of random stamps is in that box, too, along with a never discarded envelope on which he wrote: “Don’t throw this away.”
The wall behind me backs up against the family room fireplace, and it’s shaped exactly like the inverse of a fireplace. Piled against it are packs of printing paper and my grown daughters’ old “Keep It Boxes,” filled with childhood hand imprints, drawings, almost perfect spelling tests, math quizzes that earned smiley stickers. Treasures.
I sit at a long butcher’s block table (often with a Corgi under it), cluttered with papers, pens, ink cartridges, notes about whatever manuscript I’m working on, and two computers, side by side. I prefer the old bulky archaic one. It’s slow, cumbersome. It keeps getting disconnected from the web. But I trust it and write on it. Post-its decorate the monitor, listing various email addresses and phone numbers I never call.
The laptop is just for the internet.
Around me are pictures of my daughters. A photo of my husband, my mom, my friend Lanie. There’s a twenty-odd-year-old note from my Dad, advising me to hang onto my receipts. And shelves stuffed with Fedex supplies, spiral notebooks and folders holding ideas or research or whatever. My thesaurus sits to my left, next to the printer. Candles and terrible pottery that I made in college pepper all surfaces. Framed covers and reviews of my books cover the walls.
To my right are sliding latticed doors. When they’re closed, from the outside, no one can tell that this room is even here. It looks like there’s just latticed wall in the family room.
I never close those doors.
So that’s the den in which I write. But, of course, it’s not actually where I write. That place is much harder to pinpoint, let alone to describe. The best I can do is to say that it’s dark and crowded, has neither doors nor windows. And it’s located somewhere between my ears, behind my eyes.
Merry Jones is the author of SUMMER SESSION (due out this summer from Severn House), the Zoe Hayes mysteries (including THE NANNY MURDERS, THE RIVER KILLINGS, THE DEADLY NEIGHBORS, and THE BORROWED AND BLUE MURDERS), as well as humor and non-fiction books. Visit her at MerryJones.com