Tuesday 15 July 2014

Where I Write - Group Post

As a group we're often asked where we write. We're not sure why people are so interested because it's something we do every day, so we see it as just another ordinary part of our lives. However, as we've been asked, it would be rude not to answer the question! So four of us have joined forces to let you in on the secret of where we write.

Abie Longstaff

I write in my writing hut in the garden.

It's only a few steps from my house, so I have a very short commute!

Inside I have a comfy chair, a desk and some big cushions in a pile on the floor so I can curl up and read.

Pippa Goodhart

For the first twenty years of my writing career I wrote in whatever corner of the house I could. The computer was in our bedroom, and the main table always had to be cleared for mealtimes. But then - da daaa! - my wonderful husband (who happens to be an architect) built us a brand new house. What would you like in it, he asked?  Well, where to begin?!  I now have a library landing with backlit bookshelves that leads onto a balcony with rocking chairs - bliss.  But he and I also share a big studio room; his drawing board and desk at one end, and my writing mess at the other. One long wall is lines with built-in bookshelves.  But, as you can see, even now I have to share my writing space!

Jane Clarke

I've taken over the smallest bedroom, overlooking the apple tree in the back garden. Watching the birds (and the occasional squirrel) is a great displacement activity.

The walls slope so fitting everything in is a bit of a challenge and things tend to get stacked in heaps in the corners.

I use the beams to pin things on.

Occasionally I have a tidy up and clear out, but clutter is the default setting for my writing room.

Jonathan Emmett

For the first 10 years as a writer/paper-engineer, I worked in a little room at the back of our first house that looked out onto the back garden. As well as a desk, I had a huge “double elephant” sized drawing board, a large light-box and a plan chest, all crammed into the same small space.

My first office in my old house was rather like a ship's galley.

I needed somewhere to store all my books and art materials as well, so I built a big storage unit to house it all. There's a diagram of it on the right and you can just see the edge of it on the left of the photo above. There was a very practical reason for the unit’s 'grand piano' shape. It needed to be narrow at one end, to leave me enough space to sit behind my drawing board, and wide at the other, so I could have a decent bookcase beside my desk. When we moved house, the storage unit came with me to my new office which is quite a bit bigger and looks out onto the street. As you can see in panorama below, I have a silver birch tree right outside my window!
A panorama view of my current office. Click on "view sphere", then click and drag inside the image to move around.

One of the best things about moving house was that I finally had enough space for a sign-writer’s vinyl cutter. These computer-controlled machines are usually used to cut out the coloured vinyl signs you see stuck to the sides of vans and above shops, but I’ve adapted mine so that I can use it to cut out the pieces of card for the prototype pop-up books I design. The home-made stand it's mounted on folds down, a bit like a deck-chair, so that I can store the cutter under my drawing board, when it’s not in use.

We hope you've enjoyed this group blog and if you're an author we would love to know where you write. So please do let us know.


Abie, Pippa, Jane and Jonathan.


Moira Butterfield said...

Wow! I want all those working spaces, and Jonathan - your shelf-building is awesome!!! I rent an office away from my home, but my window looks onto the side of a delicious deli, so I have to resist wonderful cooking smells - No wonder I'm always putting food into stories. I'm thinking about getting a writing shed but some of them look so costly, and cold. How do you heat yours, Abie?

Paeony Lewis said...

I'm jealous of all of you. I work in a chaotic dining room that's only allowed to be a dining room a couple of times a year!

Jon Burgess Design said...

I'm jealous of the cutting machine, I'd want to mess around cutting stencils and printing stuff badly ;-) Too late to post about my chaotic space. Good to see where you all work.

Jonathan Emmett said...

I sometimes use the cutter for making stencils, but it's proved indispensable for my pop-up projects. On larger projects, I used to get RSI from cutting card with a scalpel and on a couple of occasions I had to stop work for a day or two to give my hand a chance to recover. The cutter did away with this and has literally halved the time I spend designing pops and making dummies.

TheWriterStuff said...

I've never been able to write comfortably at home and so I am a denizen of libraries and coffee shops. Would love to have a space like one of these to write and dream in.

Jon Burgess Design said...

I bet it helps a lot! I did a lot a of work for 'Sadie Fields'/Tango back in the day, for their pop-up books. But not the paper engineering. Making the artwork was sometimes quite weird, as you had to draw something in several bits and allow for tabs etc. . .

Jonathan Emmett said...

I went to see 'Sadie Fields'/Tango at their offices once and remember them showing me something you'd illustrated, but I never did a book with them.

Some illustrators really struggle to get their heads around pop-up illustration and the paper-engineer has to do a lot of cutting, pasting, cloning and tweaking of artwork to get everything in the right place. Others, like Ed Eaves, who I've done a couple of pop-up books with, can get it more or less right first time. I think it's related to spatial awareness.

I should probably right a post about it!

Abie Longstaff said...

Moira - I inherited mine when I bought the house, so I'm kind of stuck with what's there. It's lovely but isn't brilliantly insulated! If I were starting from scratch I'd make something much warmer. It does have electricity so I'm going to use a heater in the winter. I'll also insulate the roof. But there are so many more jazzy options! :)