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> Photos of Famous Writers' Rooms
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Jul 01, 2008 07:19AM
Writers' rooms | Special Reports | guardian.co.uk Books
"If I don't write to empty my mind, I go mad"
"Comfortable. private, quiet: what more could a Victorian gentleman require?"
"This was where Leonard came to tell her that The Waves was a masterpiece"
"As he was short, he had his English walnut chair placed on blocks"
George Bernard Shaw
"This was a strange place for a red-bearded socialist"
"As he didn't want to move from his chair everything was within reach."
"The door is open, because that's the way the house is these days."
"This is my room and I can do what I bloody like in it."
"The minute I walk into this room of my own, I swear I become a different person."
"Every new project has its own pile."
"I could live up here."
"The room is the view."
"This startingly ugly room is where I try to write."
"It's all about books, really, and where to put them."
"I feel lucky sitting here writing."
"My motto is 'bugger beige'. "
"I'm surrounded, it turns out, by as many writing tools as possible."
"The state of my desk is always an indication of how the writing is going."
"I like this light room, coloured by the books, spilling over from other parts of the house."
"My room is at the top of the house up two flights of stairs, which is very useful as people have to think before they disturb you."
"I used to run away from home to write, but now, because I'm - oh, that lowering social services word - a 'carer', I try to work from this nice little attic in my house that has views across the Oxford Canal to Wytham Woods."
"On the board is a spread from the book I've been working on for the past two years. It is about old age and death, and if I ever manage to finish it before I die, it will be called Time For Lights Out."
"Although I was seduced by the idea of the need for a room of one's own, it is the atmosphere of a place, rather than somewhere unique and private, that matters most."
"I used to have a tiny garret on a half-landing, with a door that closed and a blank wall to face. And I thought that was what I needed, but it turns out I didn't."
"The photograph on the desk is of my mother. Everyone in my generation got on with their mothers; I'm the only one I know who got on with their father."
"Here's my room towards the end of a first draft of a story, a 2,000-word commission for radio."
"Here you see some of the clutter but you can't see the danger."
"I don't have a telescope but when I'm stuck I often open the shutters and simply stare out of the window."
"Much visiting takes place in my study."
"I've never had a study - never really needed one. I like to work in the middle of things."
"These days I have less time than I would like to spend writing, and the sense of my study being a sanctuary has grown accordingly."
"We moved to this flat in 1971 when Notting Hill Gate was a bit run down and full of bedsitters."
"Roominess is my one requirement, I would happily write on a roller-rink."
"As untidy as a raven's, my nest is lined with volumes that reflect obsessions."
"Most of the stuff you see in the photograph is redundant: the books go unread, the files are never opened, and the posters are unseen."
"I have a clear view of Dublin Bay and Howth Head and the Dublin port shipping coming and going."
Alain de Botton
"I used to think that, with age, my living quarters had a chance of getting ever more ordered and elegant."
"After buying the place, I had very little cash so had to depend on smoke and mirrors."
"I can only write surrounded by the silent presence of other people."
"I've finished six novels in this room."
"Children are always asking me if I have a special place to write."
"The chair is one of the most uncomfortable ever made. After a day's work, it causes pain in parts of the body you did not know existed."
"I have large windows and a fine view of the street but I never look out when I am writing."
"My best days do seem like a distillation of all that was best about school."
"Behind my back when I write - to encourage me - is a shelf of drinks, a Bafta award and a Nibbie lifetime achievement award."
"Here I am unassailable. Or so I like to imagine."
"It may not look like an office, but that's the point"
"I'm the kind of person who can feel sentimental affection for a teak plank."
"I write by hand. I do not understand how people can arrive at even a flicker of creativity by means of a computer."
"There is method in the seeming chaos. Trust me."
"I don't need any of these things, just my green chair and my laptop."
"This is version 4.0 of the Dyer study, the Studium Scholasticum."
"When I begin a book I travel as far as possible from this room on research trips."
"The flock wallpaper was in the house when I got here. I've kept it, and indeed fought to keep it, because it is like being in an Indian restaurant, and I always wanted to spend all of my life in an Indian restaurant."
"I am untidy - I don't think it possible to research and write biographies tidily"
"I should imagine my writing room is very much as anyone would have envisaged it - if they could've been arsed."
"I just need to know where everything is before I go in search of things in my own head, and every time I look up from my desk it helps to see order, which is why the room is so crazily tidy."
"My flat is small, so I work on the table in the living-room, which means eating on a tray on my knee except when feeding guests"
"I work on the fourth floor of our house, looking west over London and, winter and summer, I work with the window wide open."
"All my novels have been written on [this desk], and old papers of every kind have accumulated like a great reef."
"The chair looks a bit forbidding, like an electric chair, but is ergonomically state of the art."
"The objects in the room are in a way a metaphor of my mind. They are brightly coloured, or transparent, and are about intricate patterns and structures."
"The only ornament is a tiny, chipped pottery cat in a basket, which I hold sometimes if I am feeling bleak."
"All I need in a study is a flat surface, a computer, and a closable door; a large ward- robe would probably do.
"The problem for writers in the performing arts is that your workplace too easily becomes an office rather than a study."
"I got the typewriter in 1958 from a Chinaman. You can't get them mended anymore so I have to be very careful with it."
"Somerset Maugham said that writers should sit with their back to the window. I sit sideways on most of the time. Moderation in this, as in all things."
Writers' rooms | Special Reports | guardian.co.uk Books
Jul 29, 2008 10:18PM
A couple of my writing rooms:
This is my first night at a small cabin some miles outside of the northern Michigan town of Grayling. I have come here to finally write my book. Three white-tail deer come past my window eating blueberries; one still in spots -- a late birth. The music of Miles Davis mingles with a stick of Nag Champa to fill my air with an exotic fury. My third beer has emptied itself and left me unsatisfied. I am alone. I am filled with the Dance. I am alone and I am alive.
A Handful of Dust
Writing at Grizfork Studio (
Each day begins
w/ the conversations of magpies
who never run out of things to talk about
Each morning unfolds
w/ the fact of those mountains
who never feel the need to say a thing
I sit at my desk
w/ both of them and try
to grab hold of something that lies between the two
On a good day,
I come close.
The Moon Cracks Open: A Field Guide to the Birds
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