I had some short stories, poems and photographs to share ... and so here I am

My Writing Haven


The website of the Guardian newspaper in Britain has been featuring the writing rooms of selected authors, publishing some snapshots of where they work. I don't know about you but I just love these little snippets. Yes, call me a voyeur, but I'm always fascinated to see the "habitat" of my favourite writers. I'm probably also quite nosy!

So, in this spirit of opening up, the photo above shows where I write. It's a room that also serves as the spare bedroom for when people come to stay. There is a view over a private, internal courtyard and the open sky is visible, which is very important for me if I'm to live in the middle of a big city. One of the authors featured in the Guardian talked about how some consider it important to write with their backs to the window. To hell with that! I prefer to take in the view!

You'll notice there are only reference books nearby, which is deliberate. I would find it too distracting to have my full collection of books close to where I write; it would be too tempting to dip in and out of my favourites. My books are in the living room, providing a lifeblood for the household. (Hundreds of my partner's French plays and novels are behind me in the writing room, but they pose less of a threat!)

I also like to keep the surface of the desk free of clutter, so I can begin a new writing session with a feeling of freedom, a clean start. Ideally, I would have a much larger desk - the wide lense on my camera makes it seem overly small in the picture above, by the way - but it's a question of space. I went for a nice bright colour for the desk though, to make sure I'm in the brightest mood possible when I start a writing session.

When we took this apartment, back in 2003, I immediately saw myself sitting by that window, being inspired by the history of the building - this was one of Lyon's first hospitals and it dates back to the 16th century. In the private courtyard downstairs you can still see the original sties they kept pigs in and there is a beautiful old well, which was the main source of water.

Also, I can't forget the door that greets me everyday downstairs, reminding me of the richness of this place! Remember that Lyon is where the guignols began, the punch and judy-type puppets. The theatre on the other side of our courtyard was one of the famous guignol theatres in Lyon (Le Théâtre Guignol-Mourguet) but in the 1970s it was turned into a general theatre. I often hear the clapping and actors' voices when I'm writing. The other interesting thing I discovered when we moved here was that the French writer Françoise Sagan (Bonjour Tristesse) spent part of her childhood in this building in the 1940s. Yes, I do hope that some of her vibes rub off on me. Wouldn't it be great to see her ghost, revisiting her old stomping ground!

Physical comfort is the other biggie for me when it comes to a writing space. I got rid of my old chair and got one that had arm rests, kissing goodbye (touch wood) to a stiff neck and sore shoulders. My keyboard is also at a better level.

We also have decent speakers for the computer now, so I can listen to inspiring music as I tap! The cat, Muffin, is always welcome to join me in the writing room when I'm here for long periods, and there's space on the desk for a bottomless pot of tea!

Voila! That's my writing haven. What about yours? Why not put up a photo of your pad and tell us why it's good for you?


Suzan Abrams, email: suzanabrams@live.co.uk said...

Hi Shameless,
A rich touch of history does add on to the atmospheric flavour of things. :-)
I wonder what music you listen to while you write your novels & what your writing times are like.
All very nice!

I am in the city at the moment & my stay in Malaysia is temporary but wherever I go next I shall aim for somewhere near the sea or harbour. I am drawn to water but also like the waking morning bustle of a crowd. I write best in the early mornings or late nights.

S. Kearney said...

Hi Susan,

I listen to all sorts of music when writing, something soft and not intrusive though.

My writing is mostly done in the evenings, and in the wee hours. I have odd hours for work so this gets me into a night rhythm.

Like you, I also like the sea for writing, and I sometimes do that by taking my laptop to ocean places. I also like to write in cafés, watching people and watching the world go by. :)

Debi said...

Sorry, Muffin, but I have to point out the luxury of your setting.

Living with a partner and 2 kids in a 2 bed council flat has certain ... errr ... limitations.

I do have a teensy desk now (I used to have to sit on the floor in the hall) but lack of space means it faces a wall. Even if it was facing a window, the view I'd have is of the garages!

We get inspiration where we can find it. I have to go inside my head for mine. And I don't have a picture of that!

Mind you, the word verification is ulimii - which seems a bit like 'unlimited' to me. So - there are no limits on my imagination!

unarex said...

Very nice atmosphere you have there. The exterior is quite Romantic. I just watched this show on New Orleans and how Tennessee Williams moved there and worked on all his classic plays from his small apartment, and the documentary mentioned how one of the street cars that would pass by was in fact named "Desire".

I have a desk in a separate room, where I have my poetry books nearby, and a window, but it only looks out to the paved street. I have not written in there for several months because the room does not have heat, and so I have moved my laptop to the coffee table in the living room, where I sit on a pillow, not Indian-Style, but with my legs bent under.
Generally when I sit to write I've been thinking about it before hand, so it's already prewritten in my head, and then I just type away. I don't generally stay on for longer than a couple of hours, but the time does pass quickly. I also can't listen to music while I'm writing, it has to be quiet, save for outside noises, which is fine. And I'm also a preferred afternoon writer- my most creative times are between 10 and 2, but I'll write in the evening if needed, but never the first thing in the morning- I have to go for a run first and get the metabolism up because I don't like sitting for extended periods of time, which is probably why I jot things down in a notebook when I'm away from the computer.

Unknown said...

Lovely, but I would die a death if you saw my desk at the moment. My space is a shrine to the Small Gods of Incompetant Tidying.
Although our house faces the sea, my writing area is at the back and also faces onto a courtyard. I don't think this matters as I am very rarely there in my head!

S. Kearney said...

No, I want you to try to get a picture of what's in your head. There is no excuse! You can do it!

When I used to live in a places that were cramped and without a view I used to write outdoors in a notebook - in Paris I lived in a studio flat that had thin walls!

It's true that we can't always have the ideal spot, but it seems that the writing passion always comes through and we get by! :)

Early mornings are also out for me. I need a good few ours before I'm lively ... a night owl, is me!

Face the sea, Minx, Face the sea!

Suzan Abrams, email: suzanabrams@live.co.uk said...

Hello Shameless,

As an afterthought to what we talked about...
environment certainly makes a difference.

I'm writing well, yes, but not in a conducive spot. But there is a peace of the inner spirit that cajoles the imagination and makes my words merry, no matter what I write...the inspiration is easy. Possibly, too, it's just a phase in my life.

But it made such a difference when I stayed in Sydney and the Gold Coast. Of course, you know the beauty of the South Pacific oceans. I felt as if passion could ignite a 1000 fold. :-) But that's because the coast works for me, so I took advantange of it to write my travel story assignments.

I think there is a difference to tranquility of the spirit and that desired tranquility of environment. When both are combined, for me anyway, it's pure magic. :-)

S. Kearney said...

Sorry, that should've been "hours"!

You are totally right about that. Bad space, good head! Good space, bad head!

L.M.Noonan said...

Dear Shameless, I love getting to know you and your hard core circle of blog cobbers. I agree with the Bad space, good head! Good space, bad head! Many would envy my space, not my head. I have studio that looks out over the Glasshouse Mountains, the Islands and Pacific Ocean. I can step out and fall into my pool which is guarded by a monumental statue of the Lord Ganeesh. The climate is balmy, the locals barmier, but does input equal output. Nah!
I think you’re right though we should all post some pictures.

Unknown said...

Great idea Shameless - I'll do mine over the weekend! Mine is the corner between two doors, I like to think of that as a metaphor for what I'm trying to do...?

Unknown said...

Lovely space, Shameless.
Like you, I'm dead keen to see a picture of the space inside Debi's head... I'm expecting it to be colourful and crowded.
As for revealing my space, right now Minx's small gods are visiting me too. Piles of paper seem to be breeding and forming colonies of their own, it really is quite disturbing...

Unknown said...

Both my desk (which is covered in crap) and my table face the wall. My desk used to face the window, but I found that I was always distracted by what was going on outside, so now I have the blank wall for me to visualise on.

Oh and I also meant to say that you have a fab building. Good job I messed up the word verfication so I could add that bit!

S. Kearney said...

hi, nice to have you stop by. everyone, give a big warm welcome to lmn, and if you haven't checked out her site YOU MUST! listen, also to the wonderful song her 17 yr old son wrote and performed! :)
please please please post some pictures, lmn .... it sounds gorgeous. i love that part of queensland!

i'm looking forward to seeing your writing haven ... a corner between two doors?. i'm intrigued. :)

we are all waiting now for debi's picture. this will prove interesting. she probably doesn't think a cat would be up to imposing such a challenge! purrrr.:) i also have cluttered places - elsewhere. my work bag is full of crap and there are some cupboards i daren't look in!:)

and verilion,
i know what you mean about distractions in the street ... especially when all those beautiful parisians are walking by! i also had a view out into a busy street near the pompidou and it was TOTALLY distracting! :)
post something all the same ... even the view out into the street!
also, the word verification thing is getting ridiculous, isn't it? I never get it right, even when it's simple, and it seems to be getting longer and longer! i may just knock it on the head. how much spam would we get anyway, and surely we could just delete it? i'm going to look into this. although, it' true that it gives us another chance to edit our messages! :)

The Moon Topples said...


I posted my desk somewhere around the New Year, if you want to take a gander.


In fairness, it's actually my office where I do most of my moneywork as well, and a huge chunk of my writing happens in bed, but I'm not about to post a picture of my bed, so I hope my desk suffices.

As to the spam you might get if you remove the word verification: I have received only one or two spam comments in the three or four months since I disabled that damn thing. And those are easily deleted.

S. Kearney said...

I will take a look ay your pic ... maybe I've already seen it? I can't remember.

Re the irritating word verification thing - which got up to 12 letters the other day, too tiny to make out - I think I will chop off its head! Spam is better than that annoying thing popping up every time I want to post. The letters also don't appear sometimes, meanbing I can't post. Agggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!

The Moon Topples said...

cqeinyry. That's what I have to type this time.

Not long ago, I found a swear word embedded in one of those damn things. So they're not even safe for children.

Debi said...

Right. Never let it be said I didn't rise to the challenge.

The space inside my head follows now ....

's good, innit?

S. Kearney said...

I found f*ck, c*ck, and endless others ... someone, somewhere at blogger is having a good old laugh! And hey, looksy here, the word veri thing for this is: cundy!, and still I got it wrong!

The definition is wonderful. The pixel count superb. You've really captured something here ... purity, something hinted at, innocent, virgin-like. Well done. I no longer worry about your writing environment! :)

Meloney Lemon said...

I actually live in an attic in a tower in a castle on a mountain - but the internet connections are a bit dodgy.

S. Kearney said...

Is that for real ML? Wow! :) Or are you just trying to make us all jealous. Living in a castle, who would care about Internet connection.

Debi said...

That Meloney is truly shameless.

Glad you like my space.

S. Kearney said...

Ha? Meloney is me? Damn, the secret is out. Meloney, Muffin and Shameless are all the same person!

* said...

Hi Shameless, I've posted mine. You have a nice work space. Love the courtyard views.

S. Kearney said...

Hey, Peggy, Great, I will come over now for a nosy! Good to see someone else taking up the challenge! :)

Roger Morris said...

I love your red desk, shameless! And what a great setting for writing. I'm ashamed of my own cluttered space.

S. Kearney said...

Thanks Roger,
Red as in painting the world red!