Sunday, February 21, 2010

My Work Space - What Does it Mean? by J.T. Ellison

J.T. Ellison (THE COLD ROOM) is the bestselling author of the critically acclaimed Taylor Jackson series. A former White House staffer, she’s worked extensively with the Metro Nashville Police, the FBI and other law enforcement organizations to research her novels.

THE COLD ROOM hits the stands
Tuesday, Feb. 23rd !

What Does My Work Space Mean to Me?
by J.T. Ellison

Kaye requested something interesting from all of us doing her wonderful blog this year. A picture of our work space. Instead of just giving you a picture, I thought I’d talk about what a work space means to me.

Creating a book is a treacherous undertaking. We writers are sensitive artists, don’tcha know, replete with superstitions, rituals, methods. We have to have exactly the right paper, or pencil, or pen, or laptop, or desk, or music, or time…. You get the idea. Our work spaces are our cathedrals. We worship at the foot of the Muse, on our knees until they bleed, sometimes, begging and praying for that perfect storm of ideas, and the exact right shade of post-it notes.

You think I’m kidding, don’t you?

Our offices are sacred, and the tools of our trade as vital as the scepter and staff.

Ah, the tools.

In polite company, I’m referred to as an addict. A junkie. But we’re among friends here. We can be honest, open, forthright. The truth of the matter is I’m an office supply slut. I will do most anything for a fresh notebook, virginal paper and a kick-ass pen. And I cheat on my favorites unabashedly. I schedule time to go through the Levenger catalog. I read the Quo Vadis blog. I’ve started leaving my sunglasses on when I go to Staples because the checkout girl started looking at me with that pitying gaze – Oh, that poor girl, back again.

Offices, and office supplies, have been my Achilles heel my whole life. My very first job out of college, I was plopped at a desk next to a secretary’s desk, given a phone and a chair, and set to work. I cringed. Where was my office? Where was my view? Where was that all-important door that I could close?

Yeah. It took another three jobs before I got the door. Never did get the view.

But in all that time, my desk was my pride and joy. I always have been hyper organized. My inbox was always neat, my outbox full. Pens and pencils had their respective jars, and never the twain shall meet. I filed lustfully, experimenting with alphabetizing, dating, color schemes.

And then I struck out on my own. This was my office:

I wrote my first novel at that tiny desk. A second one, too. We actually just donated it to Goodwill, and I must admit, parting wasn’t the easiest. But maybe it will help some other aspiring author to build their dream.

When I realized I might actually be spending a lot of time at the little desk, my delightful parents upgraded me to this:

Beautiful, isn’t it? It took three days and a near separation for hubby and I to put that together. I still don’t think he’s forgiven me for all that molding. Yes, that is a bat hanging from the light, and yes, that sign on the right does say “Don’t Piss Off The Fairies.” Good advice, that.

My office is still a beautiful, clean and organized space. But now, seven novels in, I find I don’t need the trappings to feel creative. I often find myself in a black leather lounger in my living room, my laptop in my lap on a lapdesk I bought from Staples, my Levenger Circa and Moleskine notebook to my right:

I’ve simplified. The more experienced I become, I realize what’s important is the words on the page, and my surroundings don’t play as big a role as they used to.

But my desk is still clean, and my files are still beautifully organized.


Meredith Cole said...

Your workspace is beautiful, JT. I noticed you're facing the wall, though. Maybe you move around the house with your laptop because you're still looking for that view?

P.S. I'm an office supply junkie too. Aren't all writers? Maybe we need to form a support group or something.

Christine said...

Oh, it's not just writers who are the office supply junkies. I've just about every size and shape of Post-its and Sharpies that are out there. I think I peruse longer, dog-ear more pages and make bigger gift lists from my Levenger catalogues than I do from the clothing ones! ;-)

J.T.,you and your husband get big props for putting that desk together! I love it!

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

I'm a nut for supplies too. In my case, I think it stems from a need to be organized. I LOVE organizing stuff, and being organized. To the point that I could probably use a bit of professional help . . .
Meredith, your idea about forming a support group sounds good to me!
Levenger catalogs make me drool.
J.T. - I loved your post, and I loved having you here - Thank You, sweetie! And I cannot wait to read your latest!!!!!! I adore Taylor Jackson.

JT Ellison said...

Hi! I didn't forget you - it's been a crazy start to the week. I'm finally coming up for air.

Meredith, I think that's a brilliant idea. Pen and Pencils Anonymous? And you're right, I need a view - sadly, my neighbors put in a pool which is about the only thing I can see from my office. I do get so inspired in places that are "view" centric.

Christine, I JUST bought more post-it notes. Like I need more. But they had a J on them, I couldn't resist! And Levenger catalogs are like Playboys for me...

Kaye, thank you so much for having me, and always being so amazing for us authors. We just love you!!!