Thursday, October 7, 2010

Step Into My Office

One of the blogs I enjoy following is the always interesting "Murderati." The blog's contributors include some of the best and fastest-rising authors in the mystery/thriller genres, including (but not limited to) Tess Gerritsen, Ken Bruen, JT Ellison, Robert Gregory Browne and Allison Brennan, among many others. The material they cover runs the gamut from plotting and characterization to marketing to the occasional timely rant concerning the publishing business or just about anything else.

A month or so ago, some of the authors contributed posts and photos of their workspaces, the areas where these evil geniuses dream up and execute (pun definitely intended) their fictional mayhem. They ranged from entire separate rooms dedicated to the craft of writing, to portions of rooms filled with papers and computers covering what, presumably, was a desk buried somewhere beneath.

The posts were a fascinating look at the physical manifestations of the creative process and pretty much included the semi-sloppy messiness that always seems to accompany creative output. At least that's what I tell myself when my messes get out of control.

Anyway, the posts got me thinking about my own office. It's a little smaller than most of the ones featured by these best-selling authors most of the time, although occasionally it's quite a bit bigger. You see, my office is wherever I happen to sit down and open up my laptop.

Most of my best work is done on my bed.

Feel free to interpret that any way you want, but what I really mean is when I'm working on a novel or a short story it is often while sitting on the bed-covers, pillow propped behind my back, leaning against the bed's headboard. There are several reasons for this, but mostly it's because I need to have silence - or as close as possible to it - when I'm writing, and with a three year old running around our house, sometimes that's in short supply.

I've made my office in plenty of other places, though. When my granddaughter was an infant and my wife was still working, I wrote entire chapters of PASKAGANKEE (a supernatural suspense novel I still have high hopes for) with a sleeping baby perched on my left shoulder, rocking her back and forth while I typed one-handedly on my laptop as it sat perched on top of the stove. Most of the time while it was off. The stove, that is, not the laptop, although based on the lack of success I've had selling the manuscript, maybe the computer should have been off as well.

I have also written short stories and novel chapters sitting in my daughter's room on the floor, leaning against the wall in the space her futon used to take up until I rented a van and drove it to her college dorm. Once in a great while I write while sitting on the living room couch, although most of the time that only happens when nobody else is home.

Plenty of work gets done when I am on breaks at my day job as an air traffic controller. It's not always easy to switch gears from talking to airplanes, all of whom are trying to occupy the same space, to writing about chaos and murder and mayhem, although now that I think about it, it's often not all that hard, either. The point is, wherever I can find a free conference room or unused office on my breaks, I open up my laptop and it instantly becomes my office, at least until my break is over.

Oh, that reminds me. My break is over. Time to close up my office and get back to work.

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