By Louise Ure
My work space is a room with a view. A smallish room, only eight feet square, it’s tucked onto the back of the house like a cliffside bird’s nest and faces out to the Golden Gate Bridge. I look over a cascade of rooftops to the water and the Marin Headlands to the north.
Many of the houses are painted shades of yellow — from buttercream to Tweety bird — an effort, I think, to defy the incessant grays of the fog.
What I can’t convey to you in these photos is the sound, the low rhythmic call of the fog horn, then enough time to take a deep breath and the answering single note of the responding fog horn on the far side of the bridge.
And the clock. How can a clock so small make so much noise, as the second hand moves determinedly around? Those are the only sounds I hear, unless it’s high tide and then the sound of the waves add an undernote that sounds like faraway traffic.
My space is tidy but not organized. I prefer piles of things to an empty desktop, but could not work if there were papers, notebooks and Post-It notes scattered helter-skelter around me.
There are many things I love about this space: the dragonfly-patterned Tiffany lamp, the aircraft carrier-sized new iMac and, perhaps most importantly, the desk itself.
When I decided to turn this small room into my writing space, I couldn’t find any furniture that fit my needs. There are deep windows on three sides of the room and two doors on the fourth wall, leaving no easy arrangement of furniture or shelving. I sit, surrounded by windows like the last soldier left to guard the lighthouse.
Then I met Paul, a musician and guitar maker, who took me up on a dare: craft me a desk that can sing like a musical instrument. He did. He shaved and sanded the pale yellow oak until it gleamed. Then he inlaid strips of ebony along the edges, made drawer pulls out of chunks of turquoise, and added teardrops of abalone to mark the corners. It is a thing of beauty.
I would feel foolish telling you my process for writing as I’m so distant from those days that they feel like bedtime stories I remember being told as a child. I stumbled into writing as a way to keep my mind active in retirement and as such an accidental writer I have no tips, organizational tricks or creative advice for others. It’s all legerdemain as far as I’m concerned. Trickery with the hands and the mind.
The good part about writing being magical is that, just as a magician can make something disappear, his real trick is being able to make it come back — life-sized and solid on the stage.
I’m waiting for the magic.
Wow, what a voice. The description of where you write, live is so vivid. Reminds me a little of the intro song to weeds, the way you describe the coloured houses. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i8StRAJCork
And what a view!! I love everything about your writing room – the lamp, the desk stirs up my envy demon;the windows – the sound of a fog horn – wow! I am a huge fan of your works especially — The Fault Tree – the protagonist – I have never stumbled across her like, I have shared it with my friends and it's still being passed on. I'll soon after buy it again – time for a second read. Wonderful post!
Louise, this makes me miss hanging out with you SO MUCH!
Everything you write is luminous.
I love your work space, Louise, although I fear if it were mine, I would spend the hours gazing out at the view and never get anything done for the beauty outside.
As for writing tips, everyone is so different and works so differently, that I find writing tips are merely for those people who haven't figured out their own way yet.
Beautiful desk, Louise, but I'm most impressed by the Edgar Allan Poe bobble-head. We should all have one.
Louise, it's beautiful – and I think I can feel the magic waiting to happen.
Debbie and Grace, thanks for the sweet words. (I'll have to wait until my out of town visitor wakes up to watch the video. Too loud.)
And Cornelia, I wish you were here too.
Yeah, Karen, the windows are distracting. HL, everyone needs a Poe bobblehead; he always nods yes. And Billie, I'm waiting with open arms.
Wow. Just wow.
The desk is gorgeous, as is your description. Ebony, turquoise, abalone — sounds like a fine piece of jewelry we'd find in the Southwest (with red coral added, perhaps). But what I want to know is where is the picture of the legendary bookshelves with the tomes arranged geographically?
I love your desk, I love your view, I love your room. Sometimes I think my office is too large. I'm thinking of getting a room divider of bookshelves, ala Richard Castle 🙂
Magic is always there. Sometimes you have to ignite the flame. And sometimes, our muse is a real bitch.
I wonder, my wonderful Louise, if you are not writing the wrong thing. I sit here with glistening eyes. Your words fill me like champagne fills a Waterford flute The bubbles of beauty and insight rise for my inspection and attention. They tickle my awareness awake.
You load a ton of truth into an ounce of simple statement.
Life, Death and the mystery of writing in between both.
Lord love a duck – you are marvelous. Yes you are (am not) Yes you are
Love, hugs and fervent dreams of reading page after page of your words.
Yours is one of the most beautiful and fitting work spaces I've ever had the pleasure to see first-hand, Louise.
Thank you for the lovely post today.
What a stunningly beautiful view and desk. Louise, it so fits you – elegant and beautiful. I have to say I agree with Judy, your post is full of truth, and your writing will reflect that. You'll know when you're ready. Lots of love to you today.
Thanks, JD. Sandy, those infamous geographically arranged bookshelves are in the den, not my office. I'm still looking for some rural Illinois mysteries.
Igniting the flame, Allison, you're right. I'm starting to feel like an arsonist.
Pari, Judy and JT, your words are always so kind, my thoughtful friends.
Okay…let me just pile on and say I LOVE THAT DESK!!
And as for the magic…when you're ready, it'll come.
This was one of the most honest & eloquent posts I've ever read. The magic can't be far away.
Reading your post today, Louise, the magic has never left you.
Such a nice view of one of my favorite parts of our gorgeous land. Thank you for sharing it with us, Louise, and so poetically.
I really want to see a close-up of the inlay on that desk!
Beautiful office, Louise. I LOVE that desk.
I love the desk, it’s wonderful, but I don’t think it’s as beautiful as the post that was written on it. There IS magic in those words. Thumbs up on the bobble-head Poe and I love the Michener quote. I’m coveting the iMac, the lamp and most of all the view.
I love your writing regardless whether it's a blog post or a novel. And that room/desk/view is a perfect source spot for creating your gems.
My desk and I thank you guys.
And Sandy, I had a close up of the inlay ready to post, but Squarespace was giving me the devil's own time last night when I put the post together!
Thank you for letting us in to see what you see, Louise. A luthier-built desk; not many of those around, outside of luthiers' workshops. Where are the strings and tuners?
Meanwhile, gods and goddesses, muses of all descriptions, are afoot, and magic is in the air. To paraphrase a Very Bad Man, " 'Write What Thou Wilt' shall be the whole of the law." The ink starts to flow when you answer the implicit question.
Dragonflies; one of my totemic beasts.
magic, muse within
(as has been, is, and will be)
space, view, and heart's song.
Beautiful desk, incredible view – no wonder such beautiful things have come from it.
I, too, have desk-envy after seeing that photo of your work space.
And, the magic, Louise? Really? It hasn't left. Listen to your voice. Such a short, sweet post, and incredibly effective. Powerful imagery, the sights and sounds…I can hear the foghorns, I can see the fog, I can feel the details of the desk under my fingertips. All you need to do is decide when you want to start again. Your talent is secure.
Tom, B.G., X and Stephen, you make me want to write again.
I'll be the strings to my desk. Alas, Bruce was my tuner.
That mid section of the Midwestern section of your "infamous" bookshelves is a-comin', is a-comin'. Thanks for remembering.
Louise dear, My gut feeling is the magic will come back right when you're ready for it and not a minute later. Did you read Oliver Stone's comment in yesterday's NYT Mag: "I might as well be myself. Everyone else is taken." Yeah. Just be what you feel like, maybe keep dusting that beautiful desk so it'll be ready when you are.
Oliver Stone just quoted some cheesy cocktail napkins I just bought in Carmel. Nut I love the sentiment, Susan.