Writing Havens

I do a lot of my writing in my office in what was once an upstairs bedroom. It originally  belonged to my daughter, had a four-poster bed and was decorated with flounces and ruffles. When she got married, one of her brothers claimed it as his. He immediately built a “radio station” in one corner, complete with all the stuff he needed to converse with his friends. In the other corner was a floor to ceiling cage containing a parrot.  This room was never a quiet place. I entered it only to clean and finally gave up on that.

Who would imagine that when at last the nest was empty, and I could take my pick of three extra bedrooms, I would choose this one. There are reasons: (1) it is the biggest; (2) it is shaded by several giant liquid amber trees; (3) it has a large closet. What more could I ask for? An office with plenty of working space, storage space, and a fine view of spreading branches, green leaves, and an occasional bird’s nest!

Even with the shades open, I am in perfect privacy, for the 45 year old trees make a thick, leafy screen across the windows. Granted, they do block my view of the neighborhood, but the compensations are great. In the autumn, the colors are glorious: red, brown, magenta, yellow – a riot of fall colors. In spring and summer, green leaves and bristly brown “gum balls” hang from graceful branches that sway continually in the breeze. In the winter, the branches are bare, but beautiful. They form fascinating shapes and designs, and I love the starkness of their deep brown against a winter-white sky.

I actually had to move my computer so that it faces the wall because I was spending so much time watching the trees!

But sometimes I do leave this haven. The nearest place, of course, is my back patio, also tree-shaded, this time by everlasting pear trees, whose branches dance a delicate ballet. But, once again, I become distracted by nature and find myself day-dreaming, so I pack up my notes and books and my favorite fine-point pen and head for Panera’s in Redlands. Occasionally I take my lap top with me, but mine is heavy and old and won’t run on its battery any more, which means I have to find a plug – something that’s not always available. But a table is always empty, and I buy a cup of coffee, glance at their cinnamon rolls, and get to work.

A wonderful thing happens to writers when we are absorbed in our work. We tune out sound. As I write, I am unaware of my surroundings. I am transported to whatever scene my characters are involved in. I hear their voices, not the people around me. But my sense of smell is not diminished, and I am tempted by the latest batch of fresh, warm cinnamon rolls. I weaken. I buy one and tell myself I need the energy to finish my work.

When I return home to my office with the view, I am filled with wonder at how many pages I’ve filled. And I tackle the task of transcribing them onto to the computer screen with pleasure because this amounts to a first editing of my current project. By dinnertime, the outside light is fading, and the breeze from the canyon behind my house strengthens. The trees wave their branches, shaking off the dust of a summer day. I turn off the computer and look around. It’s a nice office – a good place to do most of my writing in!

Contributed by Marilyn Donahue


2 responses to “Writing Havens

  1. I see you, Marilyn, in the setting of your liquidamber trees, sniffing the cinnamon rolls (I’ve got to get me over to Panera’s!), absorbing all the scenery around you. The better to bring your readers into the scenery with your words. Yes, I see you in your office-to-die-for. I understand how you have to face the window-free wall. Me too. But I’m blessed to have an office to call my own.


  2. gloriastockstill

    Marilyn, how I love your descriptions!
    I have also been amazed that I tune out all the noise as I work in other areas. A new experience for me. I was at the library yesterday for about four hours. Who said libraries are quiet has never been to the one I visit! Still, I got so much research done!

    I love trees. I know I would be like you when it comes to spending time observing them and not doing my writing. Still, I would love to have some like yours to peek at occassionally!


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