Monday, January 4, 2010

Sacred Spaces

We Hot Tamales have been asked by our Blog Mom to tell all you inquisitive readers about our writing space.

Well, I’ll tell you, mine is nothing like oh, say, Christina Dodd’s. I have no moveable bookshelves, my windows don’t overlook sweaty muscled men laboring in my yard (unless I happen to catch hubby mowing the hillside) and I have nothing that in anyway resembles a customized desk.

As you can see from this first picture here, my writing space has blue walls. I chose this particular color when I was writing women’s fiction and I wanted to imagine that when I looked up from the computer, I was staring at endless blue water. I still love the color, even though I’ve switched to historical romance set in the late Victorian Era.

My writing space is small, it only occupies about one-third of a room that is about 12’X 11’. But for me, it’s home. I have all the essentials that every writer needs—a computer, a light source (don’t you love the frog?), a window with a view (sort of, if you count the neglected hillside in our back yard), plenty of desk toys to help me think and an emergency stash of alcohol.

Since I believe that writing should never be done in a situation where one is physically uncomfortable, I have chosen to fore go the traditional desk and secretarial chair and follow the example of my mentor, Haywood Smith, and write in a recliner. This particular chair belonged to my father. He sat here to watch the news, MASH, and the occasional program on PBS. In this chair he rocked his fussy grandbabies to sleep, and took more than a few naps himself. This chair has history, it’s comfortable and comforting.

On the antique side table I keep a kitchen timer, a clock, a cup full of pens and pencils (the cup was bought in England and says “Lady of Manor”), a replica of an antique Scottish butter mold, a tiny antique picture of a Victorian antecedent cutting up with a couple of her friends, reading glasses, paper for jotting notes and a foam chicken, compliments of my dear friends at the now defunct, Squawk Radio.

In the open drawer you’ll spot a giant, fold-out map of Great Britain, a couple containers of yogurt because I forget to eat when I go on a writing binge, and a tube of pain relieving hand cream.

And down in the corner, leaning against the window is my portable office—a capacious backpack that holds just about everything I need to write away from home.

There’s even the requisite cat. This particular one is named Junebug. Other residents include her mom, Kit-kat and her sisters, Felina and Gin Blossom (Ginny to her friends). Occasional visitors also include Roxy (aka Rockhead the yarn stealing dog) and Pepper Ann, the world’s most cowardly rat terrier.

In this second picture, you’ll see a bookshelf. It’s not nearly big enough, but for now, it suffices. On the top is a replica of an antique beer bottle, a couple of shells I’ve accumulated over the years and a delicate candle holder my sister gave me. There’s also an interesting little pottery jar I bought in Honduras.

On the second shelf, I keep a few historical romances—whatever interests me at the moment. If you look very carefully, the first book on the left is a 1st Edition copy of Ashes In The Wind by the venerable Kathleen Woodiwiss. This was a gift from my daughter, Alana.

On the third and forth shelves are just a few of my reference books. Everything from People of the British Isles (1870 to Present) to James Michener’s Writers Handbook. I even have a tattered copy of John Lust’s (don’t you just LOVE that name??) The Herb Book.

So, there you have it, a virual tour of where I spend not nearly enough time, where I angst over every word I write and where I question the sanity at pursuing this longshot dream of becoming a Published Writer.

So, what about you? Do you have a Sacred Space? What, if I may be so bold to ask, do you do there? Do you meditate? Do you write? Read? Knit? Cook?

Oh, and there's a ten point bonus for anyone who can tell me the significance of the part about Kathleen Woodiwiss and the person who gave me the book. :)


Dorthy said...

I actually have 2 different sacred spaces. If I could I'd make them into 1, but alas I can't.

The first one is in my room. It is my side of the waterbed to the wall that is about 3 feet away. My side of the water bed is by far the most comfortable, and that's where I do some writing, a lot of reading, and even more day dreaming, not to mention where I sleep.
My teddy bear that I've had since I was 3 lays in my spot guarding it for when I'm not there. :-)
In my little cabinet in the head board is my diary, the hat I'm currently knitting for my mom, my business plans for when/if I ever become a massage therapist, my own book store, and my own candle shop.
On top of my head board to the wall is a book shelf, filled with. . . books what else. Above that is a sign that I got from Yellowstone that says "Wolves Ahead". Below the shelf is a beautiful picture of a white wolf.
On the wall that is 3 ft from my bed is another book shelf. Once again has books on it. and a stuffed animal wolf. Below that is a picture of the cover of Patricia Briggs book Bone Crossed. I LOVE that picture.
At the foot of my side of the bed is my dresser and on top of that is my towering 147 book TBR pile.

My second sacred place is in the "office" also known as the storage room, or junk room, lol.
I have a small desk that I got when I was in high school, and above that is a picture from a magazine of a coyote and a cowboy on a horse all 3 howling at the sunset. Next to that is a puzzle of 3 wolves in space. Above that is my cork board that has one of my favorite quotes pined to it; "There are nights when the wolves are silent adn only the moon howls." - George Carlin.
Above that is a book shelf that has all the books that I have gotten from authors, signed and unsigned. Also on that shelf is one of those little Russian puzzle dolls, you know the ones where you have a doll inside of a doll inside of a doll. Yeah, one of those. My dad got it for me a long time ago. Also on the shelf are 2 stuffed animals a black bear and a white tiger guarding my books.
Below the shelf and next to the desk is an alchol fridge. If I'm really lucky I can sneak pop into it with out my hubby finding out. :-)
Across the room, about 2 ft, is the computer I am now typing on, and that I spend way to much time on. LOL

The significance of the Kathleen Woodiwiss book, and the person that gave it to you????

Ummm...a guess in the dark here but.
I say it was the butler in the dining room with...oh wait a min.

Is it the first romance novel you ever read, given to you by your first child? and its a first edition, so that would make them all firsts?
well that's my guess in the dark.

happy reading everyone!

Anna Steffl said...

No sacred spots. Sacred seems like it is so special that it doesn't need to be changed and I'm a chronic re-arranger. Except maybe my spot in bed is pretty sacred. I won't go sleep in the recliner or on the couch if I'm sick or someone else is sick...not very accommodating about that spot.

Love the blue color!

Stephanie J said...

I would love to have a sacred spot by my apartment is so small it's like one giant sacred spot. Now if I had a house, and it had a sunroom/library/office, we'd be talking!

I like that you write in a recliner. I bet if I had a reading chair, I'd write there since I do enjoy wedging myself into the far corner of the couch, cup of tea at hand, and writing. I split my time between that location and my dining room table. I'm single and eat most of my meals in front of the TV so my dining room is far more like an office. I have a nice view of my bookcases which can be very distracting when words aren't coming to me...

Btw, I love the blue! It's so nice to see people go with bold color. My walls are grass green. :)

Tami Brothers said...

Great space, Cinthia!!!! I love the story about the recliner and your grandfather.

Yay, Dorothy for coming up with that. I hope you are right. I'll definitely have to come back to see what Cinthia says, but I totally see it now.

Thanks for sharing!!!


Christine said...

I love the blue, too! One of my favorite colors. When we moved to AL, I finally got an office. It's supposed to be a library or formal living room, but we're not formal so it's mine.

It's awesome and I love it. I have small sofa table where I do most of my writing, a comfy chair to read in and 3 shelves brimming with books and paper and more. I also like to write in my bedroom when it is super cold outside cause the bedroom is hot due to a southern exposure. And the kitchen table sees a lot of action as well.

I guess I can't get roaming out of my system, but it's great to have a nest to call home for my writing.

J Perry Stone said...

I know, I know!


And you never even told me that.

Beautiful post, Cin.


J Perry Stone said...

I mean, you named your daughter, Alana, after the heroine in AITW.

No coffee yet.

Maxine Davis said...

I tried the laptop in the recliner, but mostly I wanted to write "and then she fell asleep." I have no trouble taking a quick nap but mostly I use the recliner to watch TV and crochet-usually at the same time-that way I don't feel too guilty about watching too much TV.

That bookshelf looks so neat! When mine got full of books, I started laying them on top of books and in front of them.

I loved reading Kathleen Woodiwiss.

Marilyn Baron said...

Loved your post. I love the cat and the significance of your writing chair.

I also loved reading Kathleen Woodiwiss. I read the book you mentioned a long time ago so I'm not sure if I'm right but I think the heroine's name was Alana. So I guess you named your daughter after her.

I work in my office at my computer. I don't like the idea of working anywhere else on a laptop. Some people like going to Starbucks, etc. to write but I feel more comfortable writing in the office. If I tried to write in a comfortable chair I'd be asleep in minutes. Sometimes I use my NEO if I'm out of the office at the beach or in the car.

Most of the times if I'm out of the office and get an idea I write it on a piece of paper and bring it back to the office.

Marilyn Baron

Sandy Elzie said...

Great post. Loved the story about your father's chair. (I get all mushy inside)

I find I get more writing done if I'm in my space...versus sitting on the couch or sitting in bed. Even with the windows, I seem to concentrate better.


Linda Henderson said...

Well, it's already been stated but your daughter's name is one of the heroine's names in K.W. books. The first book I read of hers is The Flame And The Flower. Loved that book. I lost my copy and I will have to look into finding another. It's good that you have such wonderful memories of your writing chair. It must be a very relaxing and comforting place to be.

Linsey Lanier said...

Wonderful post, Cinthia. Your workspace looks very cozy. Love the recliner idea and its history is touching and sentimental, too. Very conducive to writing.

I'm thinking of having a flatscreen monitor installed on the ceiling of my bedroom so I can write lying down. Just kidding, but it would be a cute idea. Comfort is important.


Cinthia Hamer said...

You all are SO awesome!! Yes, indeed, Alana (without the "i") is named after Alaina MacGaren in AITW. But, shhh, don't tell...hubby thinks she's named after him. Hee Hee!

Thanks for all the lovely comments.

Dorthy, your description of your room is so vivid...I can just see it all.

Anna, I believe that sacred is what you want it to be...rearranged to suit whatever whim catches your fancy...just as long as it's someplace inviolable where you can be comfortable.

Maxine, I totally understand. When I'm having one of those achy days (I have fibromyalgia) I'll generally fall asleep instead of writing...but that's's my body telling me it needs rest. Then I wake up and write a little more.

Sandy, I totally agree. I get 90% of my writing done right here versus only about 10% in other places.

Christine, I don't know about you, but I can't think when I'm cold. So the warm sunny kitchen sounds yummy.

Marilyn, glad you like the cat...would you like to adopt her???? Had to spritz her with canned air last night after she kept attacking the yarn I was working with.

JPS, you're so funny...can't wait to see what you post about your space.

Tami, thanks for all your help yesterday. Mwah!

Cinthia Hamer said...

Linda and Linsey, yes, I do love this chair. I have pictures of dad asleep in it with each of my girls.

Carol Burnside said...

I love that you put things of special significance to you around your writing space. It looks really comfy and inviting. :)

Debbie Kaufman said...

I used to have a sacred space, but it has been invaded so much by family and guests in December, that I'm not sure I can recapture its sacred feel!

Cinthia Hamer said...

Thank you, Carol. I do love it, probably b/c it IS so cozy. For me, more room is more clutter potential. Scary!

Debbie, you CAN reclaim your spot! Just elbow everyone aside and stand your ground. Need back up support? I'm sure I can round up a few Hot Tamales to help. :)

Stephanie, so sorry! I truly didn't intentionally overlook you earlier. May I admit I'm just the teensiest bit jealous of you having a whole apartment to yourself? There are times (the above comment not withstanding) that I fantasize about having a place where I can just run away, be a complete hermit and just write. If you saw Meg Ryan's little apartments in You've Got Mail and Sleepless in Seattle, you've got the idea of the kind of place I'd have. ~~sigh~~

Darcy Crowder said...

Hi Cinthia,

Great post. I love Kathleen Woodiwiss too! Your space looks very cozy. I don't have a recliner, but sometimes I love to curl up in an overstuffed chair in our living room when I need a change of pace.

Sally Kilpatrick said...

Cinthia--what a comfortable spot! I love the bold blue, too. I don't want to give up too much about my writing spot because I still have a post to do, but I really like that you have the Victorian objects as you write a Victorian romance. I like to do that sort of thing, too. I love that the chair belonged to your father. I have things that belong to my children that I'm planning to install, but I don't have anything that belonged to parents or grandparents. That's certainly something to think about.

Thanks for sharing your space.

Ana Aragón said...


Since I write steamier stuff, I could certainly get you worked up with the kinds of "items" I would have on my shelves to give me inspiration!

I do get upset if I notice that someone has been at my desk, so I guess that's one sacred space. Another is the side of the bed I've been sleeping on since getting married almost 33 years ago! Even if I'm sleeping alone in a hotel room, darn it, I sleep on the left side (facing the bed)! Great post and thanks for sharing your space with us!