What’s the one thing a writer needs? Besides talent, imagination and writing materials, that is?
An office, of course. Or a den, Or a study, Call it what you like. ‘Room to which I can escape the multitudinous irritations of the world, have me some privacy and get on with the business of work.’
That’s a bit of a mouthful though, so let’s just stick with calling it an ‘office.’
The trouble with using that term is it has certain negative connotations. For the average nine to five worker, ‘office’ is a rather grey word, symbolising an environment not always conducive to one’s own best interests.
So, let’s reclaim the word. How do we do this? By describing the ideal home office, of course, a place to which I aspire, which is nothing, repeat absolutely nothing, like your ‘typical’ office you’ll find up and down the country. Or in other countries, come to that.
For a start, my ideal office isn’t a big room, but it’s big enough. Let’s say it’s the equivalent size of the living room of a decent-size terraced house. We’ll keep things modest for now
Ideally it would be a nice square or rectangular shape, making fitting it out a relatively simple job – there’s nothing worse than awkward corners getting in your way when you’re trying to shift furniture about.
So, come along with me, gentle reader and we’ll visit this little Shangri-La I’ve had installed in my humble home which will one day become a reality.
As we enter through the sturdy wooden door, the first thing you see in front of you is the desk at the back of the room. It’s positioned so the person seated behind the computer screen is facing the entrance and can see whoever is coming in.
The desk is large and sturdy, probably wooden but not necessarily antique. There are two chairs, the main one, a high back, for the writer (me) and on the other side, one for visitors or guests.
The computer I use I won’t bother describing too much since by the time I acquire such an office, technology will no doubt have moved on to the point where screens are smaller and lighter than we can imagine and computer memories cavernous enough to store quintillions of bits of information with no effort at all.
Behind the desk is the window, which is rectangular and looks out over a pleasant view of some sort, most likely the back garden. Anything which trees, birds and if there’s some running water, that’d be great, too. Again, I’m not greedy.
Heating is taken care of by a small portable radiator, the plug-in kind, rather than some lumbering radiator.
The floor is fairly modern, wood panelling with a huge circular thick-pile rug in the middle of the room, perhaps several. A Chinese print would be nice.
Now on to the walls. They are plain – white or cream-coloured, with plenty of room for pictures of which there are several dotted about.
There would most likely be a framed picture of my hero, Bertrand Russell complete with pipe in hand. There’d be some framed band posters – Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin – and a picture of the Rolling Stones I love from the Beggar’s Banquet sessions showing the original five at Swarkestone Pavillion in ’68.
On the far corner of the room, furthest from the desk, there’s a huge L-shaped bookcase running across two of the of walls.
It’s a tall bookcase and the top shelves must be reached with a stepladder, one of which is conveniently placed nearby.
One of the cases contains fiction, the other factual works and they are the main bookcases in the house although not by any means the only ones.
In the factual one, we have such indispensables as Chambers Dictionary, Roget’s Thesaurus, and Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, plus books on art, art history, philosophy, history, politics, music – you name it.
In the fiction one is a good supply of the classics, an A-Z of some of the greatest writers mankind has produced.
The shelves of these cases are littered with trinkets and interesting items collected over my travels. There would be a complete army of toy soldiers from different time periods, from Roman soldiers right up to the English Civil War, American War of Independence, US Civil War and into the First World War.
A huge toy pirate ship and Lego Castle would be on display somewhere – the latter an exact replica of the one I had as a child and foolishly gave away. I’d have tracked it down and replaced it, y’see. One of the glories of living in the age of online shopping.
Next to the end of the bookcases would be small shelving units at either side, one of which would contain tea and coffee making facilities – a huge sturdy kettle, teapot, lots of Earl Grey and a coffee percolator. Which would probably be cantankerous like its owner.
The other shelving unit would have a large stereo which block speakers and be frequently in use.
A huge CD tower would stand next to it, containing most if not all of my collection and there’d be an I-Pod dock (or whatever the modern equivalent) on the stereo.
There would be no overhead light, or if there were, it would never be used. Instead, there would be a series of lamps dotted about the walls to create a soft lighting effect with a sturdy lamp on the main desk.
Several cork noticeboards would be up on the walls with art postcards and post-it notes stuck to them in a seemingly random order, as if Dorothy’s whirlwind had zipped through the room and deposited them there.
There would also be a fridge with a plentiful supply of fresh milk and cans, Diet Coke and root beer mostly plus anything else I felt like having.
And next to the desk and small portable heater would be a comfortable reclining chair, ideal for relaxing and proof-reading my work.
It goes without saying that the desk itself would be littered with paper and have numerous tins containing pens, pencils with notebooks and other bits close at hand.
There would be no TV in the office, tempting as it is to have a DVD cinema installed. That would be elsewhere in the house, my partner and I would naturally have our own TV lounges so she could watch her stuff and I could watch mine.
So there we have it – I hope you enjoyed the grand tour as much as I enjoyed describing it to you.
And who knows? One day – it just might happen!