(Unpublished) writers' rooms

<p>As an unpublished author, I naturally assume that all published authors have stupendous desks. Vast slabs of expensive wood (oak maybe, cherry pine) bespoke made to their fickle, exacting standards.</p>
<p>I imagine them in cosy, idiosyncratic studies surrounded by endless shelves of books, a filing cabinet filled with exotic contracts, an armchair for reading (and resting between creative bouts), stacks of CDs, old LPs, a TV for &lsquo;research' and a wall - an entire wall! - devoted to Post-Its, photos, slips and scraps. Notes outlining a new novel. Look at Will Self!&nbsp; Look at Martin Amis!</p>
<p>Never mind the advance or the deal or the rights, what really signifies one's burgeoning career as a Very Successful Novelist is having a study.</p>
<p>However, far from being an artistic sanctuary, a place to nurture a greater sense of oneself, one's thoughts, a study is nothing more than a cloaked scheme, an intellectual deception; a marital bamboozlement.</p>
<p>The author is actually regressing!&nbsp; Back, back; back to the bedroom of their youth. Their things, their stuff!&nbsp; On the walls, on the shelves, all around.&nbsp; Is that an old Nintendo Entertainment System in the cupboard?&nbsp; The books, the posters, the DVDs, the music.&nbsp; I'm afraid you've been unmasked:&nbsp; &quot;My study&quot; is just a pontification for &quot;my room.&quot;</p>
<p>Please forgive my spasm of jealousy, I'm currently cramped behind the TV in the living room on a desk the size of an electron. Next to me is the dining room table and washing is hanging up all around.&nbsp; My pants are not the most inspirational sight. Would Steinbeck have written <i>The Grapes of Wrath</i> if all he could see was his underwear? 'm not sure.</p>
<p><!-- Start of Flickr Badge --> <style type="text/css">
#flickr_badge_source_txt {padding:0; font: 11px Arial, Helvetica, Sans serif; color:#666666;}
#flickr_badge_icon {display:block !important; margin:0 !important; border: 1px solid rgb(0, 0, 0) !important;}
#flickr_icon_td {padding:0 5px 0 0 !important;}
.flickr_badge_image {text-align:center !important;}
.flickr_badge_image img {border: 1px solid black !important;}
#flickr_www {display:block; padding:0 10px 0 10px !important; font: 11px Arial, Helvetica, Sans serif !important; color:#3993ff !important;}
#flickr_badge_uber_wrapper a:hover,
#flickr_badge_uber_wrapper a:link,
#flickr_badge_uber_wrapper a:active,
#flickr_badge_uber_wrapper a:visited {text-decoration:none !important; background:inherit !important;color:#3993ff;}
#flickr_badge_wrapper {background-color:#CCCCCC;border: solid 1px #000000}
#flickr_badge_source {padding:0 !important; font: 11px Arial, Helvetica, Sans serif !important; color:#666666 !important;}
</style>
<table cellspacing="10" cellpadding="0" border="0" id="flickr_badge_uber_wrapper" style="width: 121px; height: 36px;">
<tbody>
<tr>
<td><a href="http://www.flickr.com" id="flickr_www">www.<strong style="color: rgb(57, 147, 255);">flick<span style="color: rgb(255, 28, 146);">r</span></strong>.com</a>
<table cellspacing="10" cellpadding="0" border="0" id="flickr_badge_wrapper">
<script type="text/javascript" src="http://www.flickr.com/badge_code_v2.gne?count=3&display=latest&size=m&la...
</table>
</td>
</tr>
</tbody>
</table>
<!-- End of Flickr Badge --></p>
<p>The desk itself was no easy find. More time and work went into finding one this small than the trio of blind Venetian monks put into hand-finishing Martin Amis's desktop. Big desks were plentiful, hulking monsters, larger than the flat itself.&nbsp; So were hideous computer desks, with dozens of compartments for equally hideous PC equipment, and no room to put your legs. Who needs a separate shelf for a keyboard? Who has a tower? As a smug Mac user, I waved them all away with disdain.</p>
<p>Sub-atomic workspaces proved hard to find, but find one we did. Swedish by design, it came as a sprawling workstation, like a wooden version of the consoles at Jodrell Bank.&nbsp; I removed everything that didn't look like a desk, leaving me a perfect oblong of light, smooth wood (wood in the way that Turkey Twizzlers are turkey) and a single drawer.&nbsp; With the help of my father-in-law, I added an extra shelf and a cupboard door, fashioned from one of the leftover parts and a handle we found in his garage.&nbsp; I'll be honest, he did most of the skilled labour; I was more of a creative consultant.</p>
<p>Back in the flat, the bugger doesn't fit against either wall (plugs and curtain pulley, respectively) and if I move backwards any more than fifteen inches or rotate any further than sixty degrees I become tangled and hypoxic in a terrible mass of SCART leads, but it's not bad considering the space restrictions.</p>
<p>A rented flat means that Blu Tack is classified as a dangerous substance and outlawed by Mrs JC. Instead I've got an aluminum board to Stick Things Onto, including:&nbsp; Proclamations from Kurt Vonnegut (&quot;Start as close to the end as possible!&quot;, &quot;Be a sadist!&quot;), stern advice from Strunk and White (&quot;Omit needless words&quot;) and admonishments from Stephen King (&quot;The adverb is not your friend!&quot;).&nbsp; I also have inspirational items to keep me going when THE DARKNESS sets in - a business card from a literary scout I met at the London Book Fair, a couple of good emails from good agents who said good things about previous not-so-good novels.&nbsp; And above them, framed and mounted, a piece by Boot in The Fine Organ taking the pizzle out of me.</p>
<p>The thing I love most though is the rapidly growing pile of books that are stacking up all around. I like to breath them in, the smells, the words, as though researching my new novel by osmosis. I like sitting at my desk, staring at their spines and dirty, cream-coloured tops.</p>
<p>I look around and all is good with my little world. Then I think of Martin Amis, hermetically sealed in his custom-made writing cube at the end of his garden.&nbsp; The television thunders on behind me. The telephone rings.&nbsp; Mrs JC gets up to answer it and says, &quot;Don't worry honey, when we get our own place, you can have a study.&quot; A smile creeps across my face and I return to my screen, jump on eBay and start the search for Nintendo Entertainment Systems.</p>
<p><a href="http://www.flickr.com/groups/thebookseller/"><i><b>Editor's Note: Feel free to add images of your writers' room to our Flickr pool</b></i></a><br />
&nbsp;</p>