Every writer I know has a special place to write: the kitchen table, a local coffee house, a studio, or like me, my own room. Over several years I’ve made a spare bedroom into a personalized space with objects to spur creativity. Yes, it has a desk and file cabinet, a PC and a printer, and of course a chair. And an old jam jar for pens and pencils, and an overflowing wastebasket. Dictionaries fill the space behind the computer: French, Italian, even an old Latin one I ran across; my well-thumbed Thesaurus, The Chicago Manual of Style, The Oxford Dictionary of Phrases, Sayings and Quotations, and The Oxford Classical Dictionary. They are supported by pink and red marble bookends from a shop in Florence, Italy. The bookends, like all the rest of the “junk” in my office reflect my life and the subjects I write about: I blog travel stories and write the occasional travel article for the local on-line paper, and both my memoir and novel are set in Italy. The new book I’m working on is partly set in Italy also.
Behind my chair is a large bookcase. It holds novels I don’t want to part with, like Memoirs of Hadrian by the marvelous Marguerite Yourcenar, guidebooks from Italy and other countries I’ve visited, histories, memoirs, museum catalogues, family photos, books written by my writer friends, and odds and ends like a bust of Dante I ran across some years ago.
The walls are covered with personal items that call to mind events from my life: A lovely watercolor of the Arch of Titus in the Roman Forum by Edmonds artist Pam Harold, a poster from The Hermitage museum in St. Petersburg, a woodcut of a snowy scene that my husband bought from the artist in a tiny town in Japan, and a painting on parchment of Jesus washing the feet of the apostles that I bought in Addis Ababa, an icon from Bulgaria with Mary wearing red shoes, tribal art from Ghana and New Guinea and a fierce-looking puppet from Sri Lanka. I’ve vowed not to buy any more treasures, but they all serve to inspire me to pour another cup of coffee and put fingers to the keyboard.
What inspires you and where do you write?