Nancy: Changes Part 1 – The Office

A few months ago, I posted about my overwhelmingly busy life and my need to make some changes, to reprioritize. I had made a list of things that I considered my priorities, and family, friends, and writing were at the top of the list. Then I’d made a list of how I was spending my time, and all the top spots were filled by the same thing – working at ‘the day job’, which had actually become a day, night, and weekend job. So when I finally got a chance to take a breath, I started making some changes that I’ll share here over the next few weeks. Something I expected to stay the same, though, was my home office/writing cave. But all of that changed this past week.

Nancy's Office Last Week

This is how my office desk looked a few days ago. The desk is one I bought several years ago, when I finally decided my writing pursuits were worthy of their own space and desk in our house. It was fairly cheap and I put it together myself, but it was perfect for my needs and I love it. That shelf along the window is actually a pullout shelf to give extra work space and provide additional storage underneath, but that can be rolled back under the desk to save space. It was the best of both worlds – a space-saving desk with a pullout work station – when I was in more crowded quarters.

Nancy's Kitty-Approved Bookshelves

When we moved into our current house, I got a whole office to devote to my passion! (And to use for ‘day job’ overflow when I had to do work from home.) I agreed to use an additional piece of furniture, a china cabinet I’d always hated, as my bookshelves. It had been heavy and dark and depressing, so I removed the doors, sanded it down to bare wood, gave it a light stain and tung oil, and decided I could tolerate it. The fact that it provided massive storage capacity for my book addiction was a big point in its favor. The finishing touch in the room was my writing chaise. I’d wanted one for years and I finally had the room for it. I dragged my husband to DC in a friend’s borrowed pick-up truck to buy it from some wonderful hipsters. Adding a portable computer desk my husband had bought me years earlier made this the perfect spot for writing, especially for early morning writing sprints with a cat or two to either side of me on the chaise (it’s big enough for them to share with me, when they deign to let me join them there).

By now you might be wondering why I decided to change my office if it was so perfect for my purposes. Well, it was kismet. Friends contacted us with good news and bad news. The bad news is they’re moving out of state. The good news is we will have friends to visit in a warmer climes the next time we have a miserably long and cold winter, and we were able to buy some beautiful furniture that is much nicer than anything we would even have bought new. I thought long and hard about it, even agonized over it. After all, this is my creative space. Creative space is very personal, and we writers can be a neurotic bunch. Changing our habitat can be an uncomfortable or even creativity-killing endeavor. But after measuring out the space and looking at the pictures they sent and agonizing some more, I realized it was a chance I couldn’t pass up.

Nancy's New Office Space

And so, after a Sunday morning furniture delivery, my office now looks like this. The furniture is really beautiful, even better looking in person that in pictures. There is one more piece coming to complete it – a tall bookcase, of course. It will go in the empty spot on the wall beside the credenza (there’s more room behind the chaise than the picture shows). Kitties have already given their seal of approval, using the new desk as a perch for bird-watching out the window. My husband is suitably jealous. My daughter has observed that we buy much nicer things now that she has moved out of the house.

And most importantly, I love it. It feels grown-up and professional, and makes me excited to create new and fun stories, and collages and puzzles and whiteboard lists to support those stories, in my office. It also sets me up perfectly for some other changes that are coming soon in my life, but that’s for next week’s post.

Do you have a designated space for your writing or creative pursuits? Have you changed up your space lately, and if so, has it helped or hurt your creativity?

16 thoughts on “Nancy: Changes Part 1 – The Office

  1. Great looking office Nancy – here’s hoping your muses like it too. I’ve also been working on my writing space this weekend as well, trying to turn it back into useable space instead of a landing zone for stuff. I hope mine looks as inviting as yours when I’m done.

    Happy writing.

    • Good luck on clearing your space. For me, creativity doesn’t flow well if it gets hung up on stuff piled around me. Years ago, I used the dining room table as my writing space, but that was also the place where all my husband’s stuff landed (he is a ‘stuff’ person, and I am a ‘get rid of all the f***ing stuff!’ person). Getting a desk and space of my own probably saved my marriage :-).

  2. That’s a gorgeous desk! I’m just imagining all the twisty and baroque things you can write while seated there!

    I have been cleaning out a corner of the piano room for regular writing use. On the one hand, I don’t want to be dependent on “the space” — I want to be able to move around and still write, especially while travelling. But on the other hand, it’s such a nice idea to have a little creative space of my own.

    I am putting the cart before the horse, but I put a pair of bookshelves back-to-back right behind my daughter’s unused desk — backdrop in case I do any professional skyping. All my very favorite and most attractive books will go right behind me. (-: It also will block drafts, and I think it might be very feng shui to have a “wall” behind my back. I have to make sure to buy those things you use so bookshelves don’t fall over in earthquakes, though.

    I’m going to put my old desk at a right angle to my new desk, and it’ll form a fourth wall. It’ll be a standing desk, printer stand, and if I want to drape it with exotic cloth, it’ll be another back drop for video chat. The other two walls are log walls, so more variety for skyping. I think it’ll be cozy if I decide to do podcasts, as well.

    The actual floor space will be tiny — maybe a square yard or just a bit more? But I hope it’ll have plenty of storage and enough space to prop up white boards when I need to brainstorm.

    LOL, who knows how much I’ll use it? Right now, most of my writing gets done in the living room or in the kitchen, with other humans in the next room (can’t write with anyone else in the room unless I plug into some music).

    • I also do a lot of writing at the island in the kitchen, but I like to spread out my discovery projects and hard copies in my own space (well, mine and the cats’ space – it’s their house, we just maintain it :-)). And my office has doors on it, so when I need absolute privacy, I can shut myself away from everything. I was the youngest child and always liked my alone time, and I find I still need that to be creative.

      I never even thought about having to earthquake-proof the house when decorating! Although we had a serious earthquake that ran from VA to NY (maybe farther?) about 2 1/2 years ago. Still, it hasn’t really imprinted on the east coast psyche, for the most part. Good luck with all your plans and make sure your space is safe!

  3. Now that’s a stunning space! Creating a space we love in which to write is critical. We spend too much time there and if elements (colors, furniture, whatever) pulls us down, it’s counter-productive.

    I like my office. A lot. But looking at yours makes me realize I could make a few changes to make it even better. You’ve inspired me!

    BTW: I’m glad you ditched the old hutch. Repurposing furniture rarely works and using something you didn’t like that was meant for a different room had to be a creativity killer!

    • Agreed about the hutch! Now if I could only get the damn thing the rest of the way out of the house. My husband still defends that (unauthorized) purchase, and just this weekend was amazed to hear I still hate it. I think he got the point when I did a little happy dance in the empty space after that thing left my office.

  4. I disappear into my own head very easily (too easily, my husband thinks sometimes), so I’m of the ‘I can write anywhere’ school. If I have a little free time, I’ll write. I prefer the sofa in my front room with a laptop, but recently I’ve also written on the bus, on the tube, in a recliner and at the kitchen table at my mother’s house, at the airport departure lounge, on a plane, in a chair in the garden at my brother’s house, in a central London library, and more than one coffee shop.

    I like your ‘before’ AND your ‘after’ photos, Nancy – your new furniture is beautiful but I think the most important thing is that you love your space and feel excited to write there.

    Good luck with the life changes – look forward to hearing all about them!

    • I envy your ability to write anywhere, Jilly. I always promise myself I’m going to write on car trips when my husband is driving, but I can never get focused. And in an airport or even on an airplane? I usually default to reading, because otherwise I’ll just stare at my blank computer screen. I do like to write in coffee shops, though, especially the local, non-chain store types.

      Is the brother’s garden you mentioned the one in the Caribbean? I think I could learn to write there, too :-).

      • Yes, it is indeed in the Caribbean, Nancy – sunshine, humming-birds, peace and quiet, somebody to bring a nice cold drink every so often – I think I need a longer writing retreat next time 🙂

    • Thanks! I’m very excited about it. And as soon as can get Max (our 19-pound black cat) to share the desktop with me, I’m going to spread out the hard copy of my WIP and get back to revisions!

  5. I liked your first office, but your second office is spectacular! Reading your post and the comments, I was reminded of Jenny’s and Susan Elizabeth Phillips’s “dueling office” photos—Jenny’s is/was a wreck, and SEP’s was pristine, and they mocked each other about the other’s space. I have a designated office, too, and it’s got good and bad points—it’s sort of a wreck, because it’s the waystation for everything that comes or goes out of the house, including furniture, but also it’s the place where I fully indulge whimsy, so there’s fun things to look at in here. Congratulations on your new space!

  6. I love your new furniture, Nancy! Just my style (although you wouldn’t know it if you saw what I have now — something cheap, black, and simple from IKEA). My desk serves two purposes — a place to write and a place to do “household stuff.” I need to find another place for the latter. I just spent 10 minutes this morning moving piles of “stuff” off my desk so I had a clear place to spread out my scene worksheets. Not to mention that it’s distracting. My husband has promised me a “real” desk when I get published, so if I could just get cracking, I’ll have another desk for writing and I’ll take this IKEA one and put it somewhere else in the house where I don’t mind a bunch of “stuff” collecting!

  7. Pingback: Nancy: Changes Part 2 – The Schedule | Eight Ladies Writing

  8. Pingback: Nancy: Changes Part 3 – The Career | Eight Ladies Writing

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