Blogger: Wendy Lawton
Confession time: Every time somebody posts a photo of a gorgeous private library or a writing enclave overlooking woods and a stream, I have to check my green-eyed covetousness. I often wonder what it would be like to have an expansive space for an office or a huge separate room for my library– preferably with a 2nd story mezzanine all the way around the room. I can just picture it.
Of course, the reality is that I do much better in small spaces. For years my studio was the first floor of the tank house on our farm. I rarely worked in the large workshops we had in the next town. I sculpted and designed over 350 different doll editions from a space that was 11′ x 11′. I learned that I had to be organized. Everything needed a permanent place and had to be put away when the day was done. I think my love of systems and organization was born in that tank house.
The same has always been true of my offices. When we moved to town we had two rooms for our offices– a large room on one side of the house and a tiny, 10′ x 12′ room on the other side of the house. The small one had french doors and could be seen from several main rooms in the house so we knew it needed to be mine. (My husband, Keith, is what we call a vertical filer. He works from stacks all over his office. His system with french doors? Not a good match.) So I help manage the careers of dozens of the finest writers in the CBA– along with all the paperwork that entails– from a mere 120 square feet.
And that expensive library? Well I have one wall of books in my dining room. It’s like eating in a library. Another wall of books in my office. Those are the books I’ve sold for my clients. I have a wall of children’s books in the guest room and two long floor-to-ceiling walls of books in Keith’s office. You might say the whole house is a library.
I know a number of writers who write extraordinary books from a desk in the basement or in a corner of their bedroom. My friend, Debbie Macomber, started her career with a rented typewriter on the kitchen table. Every evening she had to break down her “office” to set the table for dinner. I know authors who keep the research for each book in moveable totes. And we all know writers who claim a table at Starbucks as their office.
So let me speak in defense of small spaces.
- Small spaces require us to be organized.
- Small spaces allow us to develop the habit of neatness.
- Small spaces can be decorated for a song and become a lovely retreat.
- Small spaces encourage an environmentally-friendly paperless workspace.
- Small spaces help us remember that work is just one part of our lives.
- Small spaces can be filled with creativity and dedication– just think of the work that has been done in a prayer closet or a rat infested jail cell (St. Paul, John Bunyan, Dietrich Bonhoeffer and others).
So while we may salivate over the libraries, studios and writing ateliers that pop up on Pinterest, our small spaces and make-do corners may actually be a blessing.
How about you? What is your dream workspace? What does reality look like? How best do you work?