Nicola Vincent-Abnett

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

Saturday 6 July 2013

The Nuts and Bolts of a Writer’s Life... Literally!

Chuck Wendig bought a new office chair.

I know this, because I read it on Twitter.

I have not met Chuck, but Aaron Dembski-Bowden, whom I adore, tells me that I’d like him; he tells me that we’d get on like the proverbial. I’m never entirely sure about that, but I like to think it might be true.

Chuck Wendig is a writer and a blogger, and he’s prolific, so I imagine that he gets through quite a lot of office furniture, which made me take an interest in his chair of choice, that and two other things: a) I’m nosy and b) I love design, and furniture and decor in particular.

I have terrible office envy. 

The husband’s office is utterly, spectacularly gorgeous. I know because I stripped it; I polished the floors, on my hands and knees; I painted it; I built the shelving; I helped to choose the furniture; I argued over the lay out, and won; I was on the hanging committee for the art, and then executed the hanging; and I was on hand for technical assistance when the husband was dressing the room. It was a big job... It was a VERY big job.

The husband’s office is layered with stuff, as is his desk, as is his life, as is his work. He surrounds himself, nay, he buries himself in research and stimulus for every piece of work he produces. It works for him. 

It really, really doesn’t work for me. Every single thing that crosses my path or catches my eye is a distraction that I can live without. I do have a desk, but it has almost nothing on it, and it faces out onto an empty yard. Even the window is undressed, unadorned for fear that the stitching in a blind or the fold in a curtain might distract me. Weird? Maybe... probably, even, but I can’t help it. That’s who I am. 

Even writing this blog, my screen consists of a black background, a white page, black text and only two other pieces of information: bottom right is a word count, which, frankly, I don’t need, but don’t know how to turn off, and bottom right is a page count, which is there for the same reason that the wordcount is there. That’s it... That’s all of it.

I do not have chair envy, and the reason that I do not have chair envy is that I do not really use my desk. I checked out Chuck’s chair. It’s functional, and it’s not, you  know, hideous or anything. I guess he sat in one and found it comfortable, and I’m sure it has all the right lumbar support and whatnot. It’s the sort of office chair that makes complete sense. I get it. I love that he bought it in 'turmeric'!

Adam Christopher joined in the Twitter conversation, and he’s recently bought a new office chair, too. I’ve met Adam. I liked him immediately, and I had a suspicion that his choice of chair would be quite different from Chucks. I asked, being, you know, nosy, and he sent me a picture. Ah-ha! So I was right. His choice was different. It was very different.

The stuff people buy and use says things about them, of course it does, but what does the chair a writer chooses to sit on say about him or her?

When I saw Chuck’s choice of chair, I was slightly embarrassed by my own. I cringed at the thought of me sitting in my chair with my laptop, pounding away at the keys. My choice of chair made me feel louche, decadent, not really a proper writer at all. 

Then I thought about the husband’s chair, and it spoke volumes to me.

I’m not the only person in the World who would tell you that the husband is probably one of the hardest working writers, in his fields, on the planet. With thousands of comic books and forty-plus novels under his belt, not to mention several games and a movie, various sales and marketing projects, training manuals, kids text books and all manner of other stuff to his name, he never seems to stop working, and he does it all sitting on probably the toughest chair known to mankind. It looks amazing, and it came, I believe, guaranteed for a century and a half of service, but still, it does suggest a personality that borders on the ascetic, and that’s not something I ever thought I’d accuse the husband of being

In defence of my chair, when I write, I write fast and solidly, and nothing else gets done. I often write fourteen hour days, eating my meals from the little table next to my chair, and I stop for nothing until whatever I’m working on is done. Surely when a person works like that she’s entitled to a little comfort, isn’t she?


  1. I sit on a Varier Thatsit(which might be the most expensive single item in the flat), so agree that a comfortable chair is good.

    However, I have paired it with a flat-pack desk that was cheap when I bought it ten years ago, so I am probably less decadent than you.

    1. My desk, which I adore, was hand crafted by the father-in-law, with love, from old, school lab benches, made donkeys' years ago from teak, and discarded a couple of decades ago. F-i-L salvaged them. I bought gorgeous, brass counter-flap hinges and drawer handles to satisfy my design, and F-i-L constructed the thing for me at no extra charge.

      I dread to think what you'd have to spend to buy a piece of furniture like that, but I consider it an heirloom that will be passed down through the generations, even if it only cost the price of some nice brass bits and pieces, and some priceless skills, of course.

      I really do consider myself blessed.

  2. I have chair envy too. My office chair is now in storage and I'm sitting at the dining table on a very uncomfortable chair.

    That's right, I don't even have a desk anymore. :-(