Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Best Cellar View by Andy Scheer

Actually basement perspectives, but that doesn't work in a title.

Since joining the team at Hartline, I've been setting up a new office space in what was our son's basement bedroom. He recently graduated from college, got a job, and moved out, so I've claimed that room and begun to establish a workspace I don't have to share. This, in turn, has prompted me to reflect on what environment helps a writer work efficiently.

One size never fits all, and work spaces are no exception. So beyond the essentials: a desk with adequate surface area, a decent-size monitor into which to plug my netbook, a nearby bookshelf, and a filing cabinet and laser printer (paperless never quite works), I've indulged in a few extras based on how I know I work best.

Rather than a modern adjustable swivel chair, I sit in a substantial, scarred oak chair that was my father's. It offers continuity with my heritage. My father, as did two of his brothers, made their living with a pen and typewriter.

Instrumental music helps me focus—or provides a welcome distraction when my mind needs to reflect before I continue typing. So I installed a pair of speakers, drilled a few holes, and strung wires to my sound system in the family room. It's especially good as I listen to one of my hundreds of garage sale instrumental LP records. A born fidgeter, I need to get up every half hour and walk around. The need to go and flip the record provides a perfect excuse.

I keep on a corner of my desk a variety of Altoids, a bag of black licorice, another of pistachios, and some root beer barrels. Not what others would choose, but I know what helps keep my brain in gear.

And for those moments I need to look out the window and reflect, I enjoy a view that rivals what Jerry Jenkins sees from his writing “cave” a couple hours west of Colorado Springs. When I turn from my computer screen and look to my left, I see a snow-capped mountain behind a valley filled with aspens.

I installed the view this weekend. For my birthday, my sister-in-law gave me a giant photo poster designed to convert a galvanized window well to a view of nature's beauty—like the background image in dioramas at natural history museums.

So now when I look up from my work screen, I have the best cellar view possible.

I hope you've also set up your office to maximize the ways you're wired to work.


Tea Time Consultants said...

Great view.

Cora Allen said...

Love that view! And you're right. Creating an atmosphere you can work in is essential. For me, it's silence, Pez candy (no dispenser needed - I eat them straight out of the wrapper) and a sleeping cat on my desk.

Kay said...

I'm not sure I could accomplish anything with your view. It's magnificent.

My cozy nest includes an old leather rocker/recliner that swivels. It is flanked by tables for all my "stuff". I use a MacBook and when I'm writing I face the windows and when I'm editing I swivel with my back to them. I prefer to work in silence so I can hear my brain working.

Diana said...

That is quite a view. I am looking for one like that right now for my office :-) East coast version of course :-)

Linda Glaz said...

What a view, Andy! I have to laugh, because right now, while I'm getting my office set up, I have a huge section of our kitchen that's all mine. And I must admit to the convenience, because I can get up to take a break and stir the spaghetti sauce all at once. I'll miss this. Plus I have a this cozy space that's all my own. How great is it going to feel to have an entire room?

Kathryn Elliott said...

Beautiful view! On fair-to-perfect weather days, I do my best work from our screen porch. One problem; our neighbor is a phenomenal cook and the incredible smells wafting from her open kitchen window induce character confusion. In the middle of solving a murder my heroine tends to go on Italian eating binges – very distracting for the reader!

Millie Samuelson said...

You definitely have "a room with a view"! Clever! I enjoy my writing view, too -- plus it's beautifully real and seasonal, and essential to my writing (in total silence). . . :-)

Andy said...

Are you sure those Italian eating binges are distracting for the reader. Perhaps it's because I have a sister who has had numerous cookbooks published, but I appreciate those writers, say Diane Mott Davidson or Aaron Elkins, who use meals to help set the scene in their stories.
-- Andy

Abby said...

I love the view! The beauty of nature (especially mountains) are one of my greatest stress relievers and I love them for inspiration too. Glad you've got your own work space.

Kathryn Elliott said...

Andy – I have a highly prized (solely in my eyes) cookbook collection! Although I love my e-reader, the cookbook is the one tactile piece of literature I must have. Using a laptop to guide me through Chicken Picata opens the poor PC up to a world of culinary-induced damage. I’m not pretty in the kitchen.