Where I Write: My book room
When I was at secondary school, I used to study in the kitchen. Upstairs I had a bedroom with a desk, bookshelves and silence, but I preferred to sit at the table beside the oven, with my mother singing and clattering pans and my brother being a nuisance, so it's a surprise to me that I now write in the room I rejected those years before. And that I love it.
The room has changed a lot. For a start, its not my room, anymore, it is shared by myself and my son. My shift is during school time. I can sit at my desk, writing, rewriting and feeling quite serious or I can stretch out on the sofa under the duvet doing first drafts and jotting in a notebook, not feeling as if I am working at all. I am not alone: Jenna, our neighbour's dog (pictured), is in charge of distraction and time keeping, effortlessly reminding me when it is time to go for a walk or a biscuit. When school is out, the room is home to a different imaginary world, the Minecraft universe my son is creating. From the kitchen, I hear cries as monsters are massacred, potions are procured and diamond armour is stolen. Later still, it is where we read, sitting on either end of the sofa, before we go to bed. Sometimes we hear owls.
It was towards the end of last year that I was able to change this room from my bedroom to the place I would write. I began thinking of it as my 'study', but the word stuck on my lips, and it became the book room. Pretty soon, the book room became the busiest room in the house, even though it's the second smallest. Being on the first floor and facing south, it is warm and light. It's also got a great view, looking over the Kelvin Valley in North Lanarkshire, with Glasgow to the west and the neolithic and Roman forts of Bar Hill straight ahead. Because my novel is set in Japan, the room is dotted with nik-naks and pictures that remind us of our eleven year stay there. I'd like to think it is my homemaking skills that made it the hub of our home, but I think it really achieved its popularity when I bought that cute new desktop computer.
I read years ago about how one's writing space should be set up as an area only for writing, a kind of sacred place where you give yourself over to your muse. Knowing me, I would probably have followed these instructions and set up a dedicated, slightly sterile spot. No wonder the muse was slow in turning up. The book room has become my perfect writing place. Despite its peaceful morning time, it hums with the previous day's bustle; the last night's readings, the sound of a dog dreaming and of a boy killing zombie pig men. My muse, it seems, is quite keen on all that.