A Writing Space of My Own

After Minay and I got married in August 1982 — yes, it’s been nearly thirty-two years, and she hasn’t killed me yet — I made sure I had an area to write in. Sometimes it was makeshift, like the corner in the second bedroom of our first apartment (which also served as our exercise room and library). You can see in the picture below that we’ve just moved in (August, 1982), and I’m sitting on my exercise bike in my bathrobe, typing on an old IBM electric typewriter.

Michael typing on an exercise bike
Michael typing on an exercise bike (old image, saved as a gif)

I had hair then, and I do have hair now. Most of the follicles just can’t stand their neighbors, so they have restraining orders.

It was several years later before I got my first PC, but I have always had a space to use for writing. I’ve also always shared it with books (and sometimes exercise equipment), but for the last ten years or so, I’ve shared the space with my wife too. Minay discovered computers after I did, and she’s not into the technical stuff as much as I am, but she does communicate through e-mail and uses computer programs to create some of the designs for her quilts, so she does need a space for her computer.

We lived in apartments for several years, but bought our first house in 1992. It was an older house, constructed in the 1960’s, but it had three bedrooms and a lot more space than any of our apartments had. I claimed a room as a study, and Minay claimed one as a sewing and fabric storage room, but the cable for the Internet connection was in my study, so we set up a desk for her computer in there too. Here I am in front of my 286, apparently playing a game of Breakout instead of writing.

A bad hair day - my first computer
Not a bad hair day – my first computer (another old gif image)

As I recall, I was wearing the washcloth because I had a massive headache that day, and the cool, dampened cloth helped. Minay decided to document the moment.

We stayed in that house for twenty years, and in the Spring of 2011, we bought a new house (in Spring, Texas). When we first looked at it, I had hopes for a room of my own. It was two stories, and about 400 square feet larger than our old house. It also had an extra room that would make a wonderful sewing and fabric storage room for Minay, so I had visions of finally getting a study all to myself. It was not to be. The large room worked very well for fabric storage, and for a fabric cutting and ironing space, but there was no good place in there to set up a sewing machine. So, Minay has an FSF (Fabric Storage Facility), and a separate sewing room, so she still has a space on one wall of my study for her computer. Here’s a floor plan of the room.

floor plan of Michael's study
Floor plan of Michael’s study

It’s a little more crowded that it looks, there’s an extra stand-alone shelf for music CD’s underneath the window, and some of my percussion equipment (congas and tablas) by the storage cabinet. An exercise ball sits next to them, and some milk crates with hanging file folders are scattered around. I keep research materials in the crates while I’m working on a project. Minay is (almost always) only in there in the morning, usually for two or three hours, and then she moves into one of her other areas to piece or sew fabric. That gives me several hours a day to work on my writing. Here’s a picture of my workspace.

Michael’s workspace

You can see it has everything I need: a laptop on a cooling stand, an external monitor, wi-fi and Ethernet, lots of sticky notes, and other notes taped and pinned to various shelves, a Bluetooth mouse and keyboard, a scanner, a color laser printer, storage shelves, a coffee mug and warmer (very important), water, headphones, pens, my tape recorder, a calculator, four external hard drives for backup, a mounted Monarch butterfly to remind me of my first finished novel, and my writing and reference books. Another larger shelf of reference books is right behind me, and two floor to ceiling bookshelves (as you can see in the floor plan) fill the rest of the walls to my right. I built the bookshelves and shelves myself. Some sections of them were in my old study. I repainted, reassembled, and repurposed them to use here in the new house.

I’m happy with my space. It serves its purpose. If I ever get rich and famous, though, I think I’ll build myself a little cabin in the back of my mansion, cover it with solar panels head to toe (so I can generate my own power), and see what it’s like to really have A Writing Space of My Own.

What kind of a space do you have to work in? Are you happy with it? If not, what would you rather have instead?


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