Nicola Vincent-Abnett

Nicola Vincent-Abnett
"Savant" for Solaris, Wild's End, Further Associates of Sherlock Holms, more Wild's End

Monday 19 March 2012

A Room of One’s Own

Different writers thrive in different environments. I know writers who work to music, for example. I know writers who work in mini-offices built into under-stair cupboards or wedged into box rooms along with the household clutter.

The husband’s office in our first home was half a bedroom in a three room flat. To be fair, the rooms were vast attics at the top of a huge, old house. His second office was also an attic room, it was smaller, but at least it was a dedicated office space.
My first room was my studio when I was working for a fine art degree. It was full of art books and materials, and my easel, but also had a small desk in it, facing out of the window. Now that I am a full-time writer, I no longer have an office.
The husband works in a large room. One wall is lined with bookshelves and there is a sofa and chair as well as his desk, library table and all of his art and objects. The husband is very visually stimulated, and he likes to be surrounded by books, paintings and prints, his collection of signed photos, arms and armour, treatises on writing... all sorts of stuff.
I can write anywhere. My computer used to sit on the end of the husband’s partners’ desk, but I only ever used it when I had to. I spent my thinking time somewhere else, and wrote in longhand before transferring stuff to the computer. 
Besides, a lot of my work involved reading, and, for a long time, read and edited hardcopy.
Now that I think about it, I really began to take writing seriously when I got a laptop. 
My current desk is in a corner of my sitting room, facing onto a yard; there are no visual distractions, I promise you. Still, I don’t use it much. 
Most of my writing is done on one of two laptops, always fullscreen, in Pages, the screen showing only the words I have typed.
I sit in bed and write, first thing in the morning or last thing at night. More often than not, though, I take my laptop to one of two rooms on the ground floor that has only one entrance/exit point. I sit in the drawing-room, beside my stove, on a small, tatty sofa, facing a window. I don’t turn on the stereo, and there is no television. The room is comfortable and has a good deal of art on the walls, but it’s so familiar that I almost don’t see it any more, and it certainly doesn’t distract me. 
My only companions are the cat, the hum of the main road several hundred yards away, and the occasional pedestrian passing my window. They all look in, and are often surprised to see me sitting there, head-down, elbows out, feverishly working on my latest opus.


  1. I love discovering how other people write. I had a study like your husband's but didn't work well there. Now I camp out in what was the spare bedroom. But I write fiction longhand, in Moleskines (how precious is that?) and anywhere - ideally in the local cafe or on the beach. :)

    1. Too precious for words!

      I'm terribly nomadic by nature, while being a total homebody, but I'm a woman, too, so, you know, I can't be expected to be consistent.