by J.D. Rhoades
Stephen King wrote in his book “On Writing” that the most
valuable thing you can have as an author is a door you can close—and the will to close
it. "Most of us do our best," he writes, "in a place of our own."
Me, I’m a bit different. (I knew you’d be surprised). I don’t have an office in my house. We do have
the main desktop computer (the one my son named “Bob”) in a large alcove near the
front door. It’s next to a nice big bay window, but that’s the computer the family
shares and its close enough to the
kitchen and living room that I can hear conversations and the TV. But that’s okay, because as it turns out, most
of my writing is done on my trusty laptop, anyway. So I can most often be
found in the bedroom, propped up on the bed with the laptop on my knees. Or if
the weather’s nice, I take it out on the back deck. As I mentioned in a post a while ago, I’ve
also written in vacation house bedrooms during the heat of the day. If the
house is just too noisy, there’s always my law office, but I usually only write
there if I start at the end of the workday.
Often, a chapter or a column or a blog post will start at the office, get e-mailed to Bob the Computer, finished there, then maybe dropped back onto the laptop through the home wireless network and polished out on the deck while Nick uses Bob to play The Sims.
I’ve mentioned this to some other writers, and they’re
horrified. How, they ask, can you write without a room of your own? Actually,
I’ve said a couple of times, I do have a room of my own. It’s between my ears.
It helps that I usually have music playing, either through the computer itself
(I hear some of the damnedest things on Shoutcast web radio) or through my MP3 player. This also
horrifies a lot of writers I’ve mentioned it to, who claim they need quiet to
write. But I have two rowdy teenagers in the house. Absolute quiet is not an
option, even on the back room.
But not everyone requires an office with a closed door. William Kent Krueger says he composes in a cheap notebook at
his local coffee shop. J.K. Rowling wrote the first Harry Potter book in a cafe. (John Scalzi, on the other hand, tells us in the title
of his book on writing that You’re Not Fooling Anyone When You Take Your Laptop
to a Coffee Shop). Don Winslow reportedly writes in a tent pitched in a grove
of trees on his property (Either he does the first draft in longhand or he has
one hell of an extension cord). Scott Turow wrote Presumed Innocent on the commuter train as he rode into work at his Chicago law firm. Harlan Ellison used to stage events where he’d
bang out a short story in an afternoon while displayed in a bookstore window.
So….where’s the strangest place you’ve done it (writing, I