Open Mic Blog

Dream Studio/Library?

Posted on November 8, 2010 at 4:50 PM

Tell us where you write.  In an office, outside, in a coffee shop?  If you could design your dream studio/library, what would yours look like?


The video link below comes pretty close to my dream.

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Reply Paul
7:18 PM on November 8, 2010 
I love, love, love the video, Laura. The workspace is ALMOST exactly what I would wish for. I would add, I think, a way to get out onto a balcony of sorts, to write outside when the weather demanded it. I like to write in public spaces--coffee shops, bookstores, public plazas--where I can observe the passing parade without being a part of it. I write outside whenever and wherever I can, but when forced indoors, I must have a window. I used to think that being in a cubbyhole had a romantic feel, but have since discovered that I can only do that while researching. For actual composing, I need to be able to see the outdoors.
Reply Laura Treacy Bentley
9:40 PM on November 8, 2010 
That writer's studio IS amazing. I love the tall glass door, the stairway, the exquisite view. The ritual of opening, climbing, and finally staring into the trees has to be inspiring. My office looks nothing like that, but I can dream!
Reply Christina
6:53 PM on November 9, 2010 
My desk is in front of a window. I bought my desk over twenty years ago with the idea of becoming a writer and it's been with me ever since, faded by sunlight, and stained here and there, but faithful.

I crave natural light. I look out over the woods in a valley. No houses in sight. My monitor is off to one side on my desk, so that my view is not obstructed. I see an aging wild cherry tree that often hosts squirrels and woodpeckers. I am enjoying showers of leaves right now.

It might be nice to leave the house and go to a separate studio, perhaps up in a tree with a winding staircase and lots and lots of windows. A metal roof so I can hear the raindrops.
Reply eddy
7:11 PM on November 9, 2010 
I didn't watch the video yet but really enjoyed reading about Christina's writing space. This question makes me think of getting to see Jane Austen's writing table. It was by a window and very small. I didn't see any drawers and think she must have been unbelievably tidy to have managed her manuscripts on such a small surface. Of course she didn't have to fit a computer monitor on there . . .
Reply Dana Wildsmith
9:25 AM on November 10, 2010 
My dream library is one I already have in the making: the inside of the 1870'2 cotton barn I live in, plus the expanded carn crib adjacent. The barn and corn crib are both open floor plans, warm with old wood, filled with pottery and fabric pieces I love- yet not cluttered- and it was all built by me and members of my family.The work of my hands and the work of writers' imaginations all within a saved barn. That's my idea of an ideal space.
4:42 PM on November 10, 2010 
I, too, love the video, and thank you, Laura, for sharing it. However, I can't imagine it as my own workspace, though as a holiday retreat. . .well, now that would be rather lovely, I think, for it is visually stunning and the architect's realization truly wonderful.
My own study/library? Mostly I use what's at hand, what I've accumulated, what works. . .something flat with lots of space, a heavy sheet of varnished plywood over filing cabinets served me for three decades, although now I actually have a desk where the plywood once resided, my father-in-law's old Wolverine, manufactured in Detroit, MI. . . no idea its actual date. Plus I have two other desks and other flat spaces upon which stuff, mostly books and paper, pile up. On one rests my desktop Mac with printer, a cheap desk, one drawer, at least, wanky from day one but it all works well enough. The other desk comprises two old book shelves that stand only about three feet high. They were my grandmother's and have, by placing them back to back, become a single "stand-up" desk which I'd always wanted. They came to me after her death about fifteen years ago. I remember Alexander Campbell had a round office/study beside his little mansion just beyond Bethany College and within it stood a stand-up desk. I suppose the germ of the idea comes from then. Elsewhere around my current study [which has grown from over-sized closet in Moundsville and kitchen in Pittsburgh] are books and books and books, various shelvings for them, and all the ephemera of a life lived in love with writing and art. My walls have paintings, photos, even a small altar in one corner with candle and Brigid's cross. Oh, and two windows: one overlooks a run of hemlocks and driveway, the other my neighbor's house across the street. . . part of the original farmhouse whose pastures a century ago ran down to the National Road two blocks below--now all houses, no pasture although no one's told the deer about this latter development. Behind this house is a heavily forested hill and above that, out of sight, the Catholic cemetery. And only two other houses beyond me on this dead-end street and above them a hollow my daughter and I hiked our first summer in Wheeling and found ended in real pasture fields of a distant northern farm. I seem to have strayed from describing my study and yet, somehow, that outer view is always crucial to how I function as a writer. And perhaps, in the end, this is, already, my dream study for I do study, and dream here, as well as write, and though frustration with the writing itself is a given, I find it lucky to have been able to pursue my work freely regardless of where I have found myself.
Reply J
3:28 PM on November 14, 2010 
Mornin' Laura . . . My husband keeps telling me we've got to do something with all these books. It's true. But it's not just stacks of books here in my writing room. It's boxes and bags, summer and winter clothes, cards and letters and address books I keep meaning to update and combine but don't. It's pictures I mean to frame, or put in albums. On my desk now are cookbooks and calendars, and a recipe for Three-Bean Casserole from my friend who died unexpectedly over a year ago. I meant to write about my daughter using the recipe for our Labor Day Celebration.

What a contrast to the beautiful video I've just watched. I could not have imagined such a place, but in the house I lived in for 28 years I did have a view.

To be continued, I hope. . . Phone calls from my daughter, then mother, who is having chemotherapy. Time to get out of my pajamas and pick up Mother.

I love that video, Laura. Thank you. What a shift from my cluttered life, which I embrace in spite of it all. . . and maybe I'd have little to write about if not for all that swirls around me. I'm going to show this to my husband, tell him THIS is what I want instead of more book shelves.
Reply Laura Treacy Bentley
10:19 AM on November 15, 2010 
Now I just need to visit all of your work spaces and bring my camera! But then again, I may not need a camera since your descriptions are so textured and visual. I can see them all in my mind's eye.

Since my writing space/library is lovingly cluttered with books, journals, keepsakes, photos, paintings, a handmade award and poem from former students, a map of Dublin, Ireland, and amulets of all sorts, I wonder if I would ever get any work done in that beautiful setting in the video! I would definitely add a wrap-a-round balcony and a tin roof like Paul and Christina suggested and a huge skylight. Then, over time, I'd probably move in all my "stuff" and two dogs to keep me company--maybe Irish Wolfhounds.