Friday, June 4, 2010

Desperately Seeking Writing Space

My guest is historical author, Emily Bryan. She says she discovered, as a child, there's a whole world in a book.

  • "As a child, I sneaked books into bed. I nearly ruined my eyes reading by the thin strip of light shafting in the crack of my bedroom door...even though I didn't like our creepy basement, I volunteered to take the bedroom down there so I could keep my light on without my parents' knowledge...I willingly traded a full night's sleep for time spent with my literary friends."

I can so relate to the *reading by a thin strip of light of my bedroom door*. I did the same.

Emily says that good writers start out as readers. I, for one, am glad she went from reader to writer.

Writers have a number of hurdles to clear in their quest to finish the book besides actually committing words to the page. I’ve won the “yes, I am too working even though it’s 2 PM and I’m still in my jammies” battle. My family realizes that my professional uniform will often be sweats and a t-shirt (upgraded to jeans and a pinch of makeup if I’m going out to the store and don’t want to scare small children.)

My DH now recognizes the “writing stare” which means even if I look at him, I may not actually see him or process any of the words coming out of his mouth. My body may be there, but my mind is in another century.

And my daughter knows if the keyboard’s clicking, I’m not to be disturbed unless the condo’s on fire or there’s blood. Lots of blood.

But one hurdle I haven’t overcome is the writing space hurdle.

Oh! To have a dedicated space for my work. A neat office with enough horizontal desk surface to hold my printers and computers and still leave room to dash off a handwritten note in comfort, while I sip my tea. As long as I’m fantasizing, let’s add floor to ceiling bookshelves across one long wall, complete with a librarian’s ladder so I can actually reach the titles on the top shelf. My records are neatly organized in oak hanging file cabinets and I never have to scramble to find receipts for expenses when tax time rolls around. I could decorate the walls with framed posters of my covers and bask in the glow of stories past. Maybe there’s a loveseat and a couple barrel chairs, so I can host my critique group in this inviting space. And a door to close on the mess when my page count is done each day.

Like the Victorians who believed every activity should have its corresponding space, I long for a dedicated writing haven. But that’s a pipedream for now.

I’ve heard that some writing superstars like Debbie Macomber actually rent office space and go to work each day like anybody else. Of course, that would negate the perk of being able to work in my jammies.

Some writers are lucky enough to have a spare bedroom they can convert into a home office. Not possible for me at present because we’re in a small condo. All available space has to perform several functions.

Others write at their kitchen table. If I did that, my family would never eat again.

Some of my writing friends take their laptops to the local Starbucks and happily pound away. If I did that, I’d never write again. I need a bit of solitude to slip into my fictive dream.

‘So where does she I write? I hear you asking'.

In my writing chair. I have a recliner in one corner of my bedroom. Mack the Wonder-dog snugs up next to my hip (alas, my darling little Susie, the black dog blending into the background, left us last November after a long and happy life) and my writing day commences. I’ll admit, writing with my feet up and my laptop balanced on a pillow sounds a bit lazy, but it gets the job done.

Someday, maybe I’ll have that dream writer’s room. But if I do, I bet there will be a recliner in the corner.
  • Where do you write?

~ * ~ * ~


Crispin Hawke is revered by the ton. His artistic creations are celebrated in every fashionable parlor, tales of his fiery bed skills whispered behind every fashionable fan.


Grace Makepeace is determined to wed a titled lord, but her Bostonian bluntness leaves her least likely to succeed. To be accepted by the ‘high-in-the-instep’ crowd, she has her hands ‘done’ in marble by the incomparable, Crispin Hawke.


Crispin schools Grace in flirting and the delights of the flesh. But when she catches the eye of a Marquess, Crispin regrets her transformation. An artist isn’t supposed to lust after his own creation but how can he help Grace . . .


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Emily Bryan graduated summa cum laude from the University of Northern Iowa with a degree in Music.

She won the District Metropolitan Opera Auditions and went on to debut with the Denver Symphony. She sang at Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC and created the role of Marianne in the southeastern premier of Kirk Meecham's Tartuffe. She's lost track of how many times she’s been to Europe in pursuit of her music.

In 2001, she started writing stories after a lifetime of reading others’ stories. In May 2006, Leisure Books published her debut novel, MAIDENSONG, under her name, Diana Groe. ERINSONG followed in November 2006 and SILK DREAMS in July 2007. She writes light-hearted, sexier books under the penname, Emily Bryan.


~Sia McKye~ said...

Emily, welcome to Over Coffee. I loved your article. Especially the part about working on the kitchen table or at Starbucks, lolol!

Hope you enjoy your time with us. :-)

tonya kappes said...

Hi Emily! I can relate to everything you said. Especially the 'writer's stare' ~ My husbands new response, 'Oh sorry, you're writing.'
I love your covers.

EmilyBryan said...

Hi Sia! Thanks for having me. I'll be popping by a couple times today to see who else has stopped by. Time for another cup of my DH's wonderful coffee. (I've trained the man to grind the beans for me each morning. It's amazing what a little positive reinforcement will do!)

EmilyBryan said...

Tonya--Thanks! I love my covers too.

The only place my DH doesn't have to worry about me "writing" in my head is while I'm driving. I've missed exits and driven out of my way on autopilot because I allowed myself to scroll scenes in my head while I'm behind the wheel. So no more "writing" when I drive.

Christie Craig said...

I, too, know that stare. My hubby knows it all too well.


EmilyBryan said...

Hey Christie!
You know that Tolkein quote "Not all who wander are lost" ?

How about "Not all who sit at the keyboard write. Not all who stare see a darn thing they're looking at."

Barb H said...

Emily, I enjoyed your story about writing space. I've recently had to move my computer et al into my bedroom to accommodate a niece while she's doing an internship for a few months. It's been a little challenging to adjust to a new writing environment.

And I can really relate to "writing" while driving and missing turns I know by heart. But I have found that I can often clear up a plot problem during a long drive.

Keep up the great work, wherever you write.

And Sia, I'm happy to discover your terrific site. Thanks!

tsueversteeg said...

Ah, the stare. Yup, it caused many a fight in my early years of marriage, but kids, hubby, friends, and family have all learned to just give me a wide berth until I find a writing utensil of some sort.

As for the writing space, I used to prop myself up in bed with cats snuggled against me until our son graduated from high school. Now I have an office that still smells faintly of dirty feet, but it is ALL MINE! :) The space fills up quickly though, so even with all the extra desk space, I've found papers, books, marketing things and various other stuff to fill the void.

I'm off to see if your book is available at B&N for my Nook :) Happy writing and wishes for many sales!!!

VA said...

The challenge of finding one's own nook or cranny to transform into a writing zone is usually fine in the spare bedroom/den, but when visitors stay, which I do enjoy - really, then I turn into some nomad, cursed to roam from room to room with my laptop, seeking a flat surface to call my own.

Intriguing excerpt Emily.

Thanks Sia.

Sandy said...


I have a spare bedroom converted into an office but my desk is a long table and it's piled with notes and papers. I much prefer to work on my laptop in my recliner.

Dana Fredsti said...

Good friends are friends who respect the 'yes, I'm working even though I"m in my jammies at 2pm' thingee! bad friends are those who expect you to be available any time because you are, after all, 'just' writing.

I sit on one end of our large leather couch or in my rocking chair in the living room. I would love a writing nook... but I definitely don't like to write sitting straight up in a chair at a desk. It's a laptop computer for a reason, right?

~Sia McKye~ said...

Not to mention, Dana, the kittehs have better access to Mom on the couch or in the chair. :-)

EmilyBryan said...

Barb--I find starting to do housework will send me scurrying back to the computer, determined to push through the plot block or anything else, so long as I don't have to clean toilets!

EmilyBryan said...

tsueversteeg--Yes, I'm sure STROKE OF GENIUS is available for the nook and all other electronic devises.

I have daughters so I wasn't aware that the phenomenon of which you speak until one of them became a youth group leader and regularly hosted the kids at our place. Why is it teenage boys always smell of feet?

EmilyBryan said...

VA--The nomad writer! I love it. I'll be doing that when I travel back to visit my parents later this summer. As long as I have my baby computer (the 10 incher) I'll be fine!

EmilyBryan said...

Sandy--I wrote my debut novel Maidensong (one of my Diana Groe titles) at a desk, but all the others are recliner/laptop products!

EmilyBryan said...

Dana--Hear, hear! Writing time is sacred, no matter what we're wearing. Blessed are the friends who respect it.

EmilyBryan said...

Sia--My little Mack dog loves to write. It's an uninterrupted cuddle as far as he's concerned.

Helen Ginger said...

Loved your story. I write in the guest room. When we have guests, I fold up my folding table and go upstairs to a corner of our bedroom. It's a pain in the patootie, but when I get to set back up, my table is organized and clear, for a couple of days, anyway.

Straight From Hel

Olivia Cunning said...

I write on my laptop in a recliner with a weiner dog (as opposed to a wonder dog) against my hip. Heh, I thought I was the only one. And it's not for lack of space that I'm writing in the chair. I could convert an extra room into an office, but I'm comfortable in the recliner. I don't work in my jammies though. Writing is my second job. I have to get dressed for the first.

readwriteandedit said...

I've got the home office, but I've filled it with paper and books and more paper. And stuff, lots of stuff. So I do write there, but my desk space is limited.

My dog sits on the couch while I work. But that's okay. He's quiet while he's in that room--can't hear the outside distractions--and he only bothers me when it's time for a meal or treat.

Hope you enjoy continued success, Emily.

B. A. Binns said...

I have a home office that I almost never use. I literally write anywhere. I used to be upset because, while I can edit on the computer, I need pen and paper to compose original work. Now I'm grateful. I can literally write while sitting at a red light. I write in church before the service (so everyone knows I'm a writer) at the library, cafeteria, on a park bench while enjyoing hte spring (thank God for good weather).

Kat Sheridan said...

Emily, the book looks like fun, and I love the cover! As for writing, I have two residences (because I hate the cold), so I have two writing spaces.

In the northern residence, for a long time I wrote on the kitchen table, which gave us a great excuse to actually use the dining room. Now I have an actual desk in my 7x14' loft. And it has a real wall of books!

In the southern residence, I have a whole room that's an office.

Does any of that mean I actually get any writing done? No, but it's one less excuse I have!

Other Lisa said...

On my couch, with my feet propped on the ottoman and a cat on my lap.