Monday, January 4, 2010

What does it for you?

By Ana Aragón and Cinthia Hamer

Ana here. Cinthia's blog post is just below mine and we're teaming today so that everyone in our blog group gets a chance to share their "writing space" this month.

I spend a good portion of my time at my computer, banging out stories, papers on special education issues and checking on my Facebook friends. Not necessarily in that order, of course.

In the three houses we’ve lived in since I began writing for publication, I’ve always placed my computer in front of a window overlooking the back yard. Twice it was in the sitting area of my bedroom; currently it’s a large office I share with my husband. I have to say I prefer the separate office, just because I can write until all hours of the night without bothering him. Even when I get together with my writing group at Atlanta Bread Company, I’ve noticed that I’m more comfortable looking out the window than with my back to it.

There is something about green trees and vegetation, birds flitting to and fro, and the occasional dog barking that keeps me focused and gets the creative juices flowing. If hubby is in the office, talking on the telephone or watching something distracting on television, I’ll put in my ear buds and listen to my vast collection of country music on I-Tunes. Gotta love Garth Brooks.

My desk is an old-fashioned office credenza with a keyboard drawer, and I managed to confiscate a relatively comfortable desk chair that allows me to rock back and forth while I contemplate my next sentence. The desktop is usually a mess, covered with bills, magazines, snack wrappers, half-drunk soft drink bottles and cans, and the book I’m currently reading—usually a historical, or a textbook for my online class. I try to clean it up every couple of weeks, but it’s usually messy within a few days. Surprisingly, the mess doesn’t seem to affect my production. Perhaps I’d be more prolific with a cleaner desk? Maybe I’ll give it a try in 2010!

Oh, and a hot cup of chai tea. Gotta have the chai tea. Which leads to my question—what is the one thing you must have when you sit down to write? All comments are entered to win a free copy of Beverley Kendall’s debut historical, Sinful Surrender, which is set for release tomorrow!

You get three chances to win if you post a comment in both mine and Cinthia's blog post!


Dorthy said...

The one think I must have when I sit down to write?

Pen and paper? LOL

no really, I do a lot of my writing, old school. Not so old that I need a quil and ink pot, but I do need pen/pencil and paper.

I also need something to snack on and something to drink.
Usually I go for Mike & Ikes, but I find that I eat to many and get a stomach ache, and that leads to less writing. I need to find a new snack.
As far as my drink, its usually a hot cup of tea, or a huge glass of iced tea.

I remember one day where I ate a 5 lb bag of mike and Ikes, drank 2 gallons of sweet ice tea, and wrote an awesome begining to a story.
The next day I was felt HORRIBLE! and I haven't looked at the story since. :-)

Well, happy reading everyone, and to those of you who do. . . Happy Writing!

Anna Steffl said...

I can't beat that Mike and Ike thing.

One thing I need when I sit down? Attitude. This isn't as hard as I think it is and I'm not as crappy as I think I am.

I like the window idea.

PS -- I'm so excited about Bev's book! Just let me say that if I win, it will go to the top of my pile.

Stephanie J said...

I saw your view out the window, started thinking about the outdoors, and managed to read "tree houses" instead of "three houses." How cool! Then I realized my mistake. But I'm right there with you on the view out the window. Even when I'm at B&N and my only view is the parking lot, I prefer to face the window.

My writing must-have is a cup of tea. I don't care what kind of tea it is but it puts me in the right mood to put finger to key and get something on the page.

Tami Brothers said...

I'm chai tea drinker, too!!! I LOVE chai.

I also have a window (see my post tomorrow), except my window tends to distract me...grin...

Thanks for sharing this, Ana! I LOVE looking into a different world.

Also, I'm looking forward to Bev's release also. I really like the feel of her Web site.


Maxine Davis said...

Love your writing desk! And I, too, open the blinds beside me to see the yard, only I have to try to keep from looking out everytime something moves

Marilyn Baron said...

I enjoyed seeing your writing space. My computer doesn't face a window but the windows are to my right in the office and I get inspiration by looking out the window at the squirrels, birds, deer and other animals I see.

Marilyn Baron

Sandy Elzie said...

Hi Ana,

My desk faces three windows in an octogon, which you'll see next week. I've always had the desk face the wall and this is the first time for windows. I LOVE IT!!


Linsey Lanier said...

Great post, Ana. Love the picture of you gazing out the window. And what a terrific desk.

What do I have to have when I sit down to write? Quiet. I can't listen to music or white noise or anything. Just the noise in my head. :)

Looks this month is going to be a lot of fun.


Cinthia Hamer said...

Ana, I, too, MUST have a window...and an odd factoid about restaurants I must always face the door...JPS says I must have been a gunslinger in a past life. LOL!

I love that pic...the back of your head looking out the look very content. :)

Linda Henderson said...

Well, I'm not a writer but when I sit down to read I like to have a drink close by. In the winter a hot drink, any other time a soda. Some chocolate doesn't hurt either.

Michelle said...

I love seeing you at your desk Ana! How did you have the stamina to move three times! I'd never find anything again. What I have to have when I sit down to work is music and coffee. I have endless playlists keyed to certain moods and story arcs. When I'm on deadline with an operations manual I somtimes spend 15 hours a day in my studio for days on end so I drink LOTS of coffee!

beverley said...

What a love you are!!! And you didn't say a word of it to me. Thank you sweetie. ((HUGS))

I'll see you on the 16th.


J Perry Stone said...

"There is something about green trees and vegetation, birds flitting to and fro, and the occasional dog barking that keeps me focused and gets the creative juices flowing."

I really do think we're related, Ana. I must have my computer in the exact same position, overlooking the back yard, watching the birds pick through my herb garden.

Bev! Cannot wait. I really do hope I win a copy.

Debbie Kaufman said...

Ana, I too have rarely ever kept a neat desk! My must haves? Usually herbal tea and quiet. At home, I don't write well with other people talking or watching TV. In public, the talking just becomes a general background noise and I can still focus.

Carol Burnside said...

I love having a window too. I don't think I could write in a windowless room, but the one thing I absolutely must have to write? Either my laptop or pen and paper. That's it.

Carol Burnside said...

Oh, um, no need to enter me in the drawing. I have SS preordered.

Darcy Crowder said...

Hi Anna,

Great post. The one thing I must have would be music. I've learned I just don't get into the story as well without it.

Oh, and I don't need to be in the drawing either - I've had Bev's book ordered since way back when. Grin.

Sally Kilpatrick said...

Fascinating. I love learning what helps others write. I remember when I toured the Old Manse there's a room there that both Thoreau and Hawthorne used at different points. Thoreau faced the window; Hawthorne faced the wall.

I'm with Cinthia and must have been an outlaw in a former life because I write best with my back to a wall where no one can sneak up on me. As for the one thing I must have, it's the laptop. That said, there are all sorts of things I like to have handy: ipod, coffee, pen and paper, and my Nonni biscotti.

Ana Aragón said...

Oh, my! Imagine my surprise when I popped on tonight (first workout session with my "personal trainer" hunk at LA Fitness!)

Most of you drink tea--interesting! And Tami, you drink Chai tea also? Wow...Lots and lots of window's funny, but I don't think I ever get distracted by anything outside my window...but can be bothered by the littlest movement in the room!

I'm going to go back and reread everyone's posts...!


Ana Aragón said...

Dorthy, your story about the Mike and Ike's is a hoot! And I'll bet you never even noticed you had downed the entire 5 pound bag!

If it was an awesome beginning, you need to go back and take a look at it post-upset stomach!

Thanks for sharing your story and thoughts!

Ana Aragón said...


Love the attitude comment--"This isn't as hard as I think it is and I'm not as crappy as I think I am." Wow!

Stephanie, I can see where you would have thought I said tree instead of three! I mean, how many people move four times in 12 years and in the same zip code?


Ana Aragón said...

Maxine and Marilyn,

Thanks! I've had the desk for over ten years and we've moved it everywhere we went. It's a heavy sucker, and I lost a piece of molding in one of the moves, but it's perfect for me!

Isn't it funny that most of us like looking out a window?


Ana Aragón said...


I can't wait to see your space! And Linsey, I asked my husband to take a picture of me when I was into my "writing" mode!

It's interesting that you can't have any noise or music because I usually write with no music, too. But if hubby is watching TV or talking, I'm such a busybody that I can't keep my focus!

Cinthia, I had read once that gangsters always sat with their backs to a wall! My husband usually picks that seat and if I want to bug him, I'll choose his seat!


Ana Aragón said...

Hey, Linda!

A drink and chocolate? Are you sure you aren't a writer!

Hi, Michelle!

A coffee drinker and music! Those training and operations manuals are killers, aren't they?

We've actually lived in four houses here in the Atlanta area and moved back to our original house in Suwanee in June of 2009. And in the 33 years we've been married, we've lived in 11 houses, 1 apartment, and moved 13 times. I get bored easily, and moving houses seemed better than changing husbands haha!


Ana Aragón said...

Hey, Beverley,

Glad to be promoting your wonderful book! I can't wait to get my copies!

JP--I think we determined at M&M when we roomed together that we were probably separated at birth (plus 20 years!)

Debbie--so noise in the house is distracting, but noise out of the house isn't? That's the same for me...wonder why that is?


Ana Aragón said...

Carol and Darcy,

Thanks for your comments! I should have figured we all had ordered Bev's book! I'm so excited for her!

Darcy, is there any special music you have to listen to?

Hey, Sally...Nonni biscotti...I love it! There's something about dipping it a little at a time in my tea. I can savor one biscotti for an hour! That's so interesting about Thoreau and Hawthorne! I really think that positioning of our writing spaces means something...