We all know about “the room where it happened,” whether it’s the number from the hit Broadway musical, Hamilton, or the recent best-selling insider story about the current administration by former National Security Advisor John Bolton.
In Hamilton, Aaron Burr’s number “The Room Where It Happened” is a reflection by Burr that Jefferson, Hamilton, and Madison cut a secret deal so Hamilton could get the votes he needed for his federal financial structure. Burr, perpetually jealous of Hamilton, is upset he wasn’t in that room, making those deals, participating in those decisions.
During his tenure as NSA, Bolton was “in the room” where many things happened. The difference between Burr and Bolton, besides the obvious, is that the Hamilton number harkens back with accuracy to the beginning of how politics worked for a long time in this country: decisions made by wheeling and dealing in smoke-filled rooms occupied by only a few power-brokers. Bolton’s book’s status as historical narrative is yet to be decided. Hamilton has won beaucoup awards.
But I digress.
This post is about “my room where it happens,” my workspace. But, hey, everything has to have an unburied lede. Or, as we suspense/thriller writers call it, “the hook.”
I got your attention, didn’t I?
Yes, Virginia, You Can Write Anywhere
And I have. In bed. At a coffee shop. Outside on my deck. On the front porch. In restaurants. At what passes for church for me. (It doesn’t matter if it’s a humanist religion; sermons can still be boring.)
But here’s the place where the magic happens for me:
A Tour of the “Premises”
The center of everything, of course, is my trusty 11-year-old iMac (periodically backed up). This iMac was my retirement gift to me. I retired to write for me, not Uncle Sam, and I wanted a stable platform to write on. Everything I’ve published since 2012 I either composed or edited on this computer. I’ve also used the over-sized screen to edit or create covers and, more recently, to audio-edit my podcast.
What you see on the screen, by the way, is the beginning of this blog post.
My work station (can’t escape that bureaucratic terminology) is in my office/library. I’m surrounded by books and lots of tchotchkes, the latter encompassing baseball, NASCAR, Star Trek, espionage (yes, there are espionage tchotchkes), and aviation.
Because I can’t have every tchotchke on my writing desk, I have representative items there. Also, the writing desk itself was a gift from my “work husband,” who gave it to me when he cleared out his late mother’s house. She had longed to be a writer, but mental illness and dementia ended that dream before fruition. She had, however, bought the desk to write on, and I fulfilled my dreams with it. I’m writing on it right now.
The webcam cover is the Enterprise from Next Generation. On the left is a baseball I wish I could say I caught at Camden Yards in Baltimore. I discovered it under my seat when I went to a game, so it can have been hit by anyone I want. Next to the baseball is my “bling airplane” because airplanes can be blingy in my world. Some non-tchotchkes, like the remote for my ceiling fan and eye drops because, well, hours on the computer. Then, my favorite tchotchke ever, my airplane perpetual calendar. I’ve become quite ritualistic about changing it when I first sit down to start my work day.
On the right are two of my writing “buddies”–Stephen King and Edgar Allan Poe in Funko. Between them is a wolf given to me by a friend who writes wolf-shifter fantasy. King reminds me to be precise about my language, and Edgar reminds me that shocking people with my writing is okay. You can see also at the top of the pic a plushie of Virginia Woolf, in homage to having a room of my own, as she recommended, where I write.
The keyboard is the newest addition to the workspace. My old Apple Keyboard was worn almost down to the nubs, after having yielded hundreds of thousands of words in nearly a decade.
For me, my workspace is a place of comfort, where the words flow easily (sometimes not). Believe it or not, I was one of those work nerds who looked forward to going into the office every day. Well, almost every day. Now is no different. Well, maybe better, because as a writer, my work now is for me and my readers. As much as I loved working for Uncle Sam, he got the credit for everything I wrote for 30+ years.
This is the place in the room where it happens. And am I ever glad.