The Magic of Setting, Real & Fictional
Posted July 2, 2010on:
I was catching up on my blog reading, found this post by twitter pal Tawna Fenske, and had a pang of envy. Um. You’re probably thinking penis (pen) envy (I should caution you not to click this link if you’re at work, like I was), but you’re wrong.
It’s desk envy.
There. I’ve admitted it. I covet writing spaces the way mean girls covet each other’s boyfriends. Tawna’s is particularly hot. A large expanse of smooth, sexy glass, L-shaped for spreading out lots of post-it notes, tons of light… oooo.
Sadly, I don’t have a dedicated writing space. All three bedrooms in my house are occupied, the basement is… well, icky. I usually take my laptop and sit in the family room while my sons watch TV, at the dining room table if I want to concentrate or, on weekends, outdoors on the deck and soak up the sun. I’ve always wanted a gorgeous space all my own.
Part me of me believes a good writer can scrawl a best-seller on the back of a diner place mat while another part of me can’t help but feel that setting matters as much to the writer as it does to the story. Setting has the power to transport us off the sofa and drop us right into the story. In Where Love Grows, author Cynthia Reese did such a masterful job, I swear I could smell the soil from the farm her characters were trying to save. It’s hard for me to imagine I can conjure settings this powerful when I’m curled into a corner of my sofa with my sons playing Xbox around me.
Then I read On Writing, by Stephen King. It took him years to get his dream writing environment but when he finally got the behemoth desk in the center of a room, he hated it. I’ve been planning my dream space for years. It would be big, large enough for a glossy desk to hold two computer screens – one for my manuscript and one to display internet research. There would be a spot for my giant three-foot newsprint pad, my preferred outline method. The walls in front of it would be papered with tack surface so I can shuffle my scene cards – oh! And underneath it, a mini fridge to store the Hershey’s.
Tip: cold chocolate does not melt on your keyboard. Trust me.
When we bought our house in 2001, I’d hoped for a fourth bedroom to set aside for me, but we couldn’t swing it. For now, my dream writer space remains on my Some Day list, along with my perfect reading nook.
Do you agree that a writer’s setting is important? What’s your dream writing space?