Welcome to My Office!
Over the years, lots of folks have asked me how to create the proper atomosphere for writing books. The sort of atmosphere that will make them want to sit down and write, while oblivious to everything else going on around them. Well...to be perfectly honest, I don't have a clue. I only know what works for me - and that's having all the stuff I love right there around me!
Granted, my office may seem cluttered to you even though I cleaned it up for these photos. But that's because creative people love clutter. They live in it, they luxuriate in it, and they thrive in it. How can that be? Because the best ideas often come from a single scrap of paper that should have been thrown out months before, a useless old business card with a fabulous logo, or an old movie ticket that stirs fond memories. Besides...creative types have better things to do than spend their lives cleaning - or so my meticulous mother used to say. [I suspect, though, that she truly only said that to excuse the fact that despite her most strenuous efforts, her youngest child turned out to be a despicably messy person! LOL!]
At any rate, I'm prepared to take you on a virtual tour of my office. But first, there is one rule to which you must agree. There's only one, but it's very important. Ready? Okay...here it is.
Do NOT use the contact information on this website to tell me what a slob I am. [I already know it and own it.] Should you choose to do this anyway, two things will happen:
A. Your email will land in the inbox of my personal assistant. It will make her head hurt. She'll have a bad day. And then, she might even feel obliged to drill me on my housekeeping skills - the outcome of which would neither be a good thing, nor something for which you'd want to be repsonsible;
and, even more important...
B. The next word you utter will be "RIBBIT!"
Now that we've gotten that out of the way...let's get started!
Here you see my desk in all its not-so-tidy glory. The gorgeous portrait that hangs above my hutch was painted by Kim Perkins-Murillo. This photo in no way does it justice, and I wish you could see it in person. She even managed to make my crow's feet look good! [To contact this artist regarding your own portrait, please click here.]
Along the top of the hutch, you'll also see a collection of my favorite things: A witch doll made for me by my friend, Z, a frog given to me by M.R.Sellars, a trio of Jackie Austin Mini-Diva dolls, a Tiffany stained glass clock, statues of KwanYin, Ganesha, Mercury, and Artemis, a Mardi-Gras mask given to me by Reverend Velvet Rieth, and an assortments of stones, shells, feathers and knicknacks. And if you look really closely on one of the shelves below, you'll see a small double picture frame with engagement and wedding photos of Mark and me.
Moving over toward the left, you can see my messy but important bulletin board. [It's where airplane tickets and travel itineraries reside for months at a time so I won't lose them.] And if you look closely, you'll also see a "Got Magic" poster that M.R. Sellars and I did for FOCASMI, as well as the itinerary for our Wingnut Tour 2005. The framed picture that hangs above it is very precious to me. It's actually a poster that Ingram Library Services did a few years ago for our public libraries. The piece consists of author quotes that finish the phrase, "A Library Is..." And although this is something that Ingram does every year, I was the very first Pagan author ever asked to participate. [Not only was I excited about this, I was in very good company ; my quote was among those by Julie Andrews and Malachy McCourt!]
What you're seeing now is the left-hand side of my office. [Yes, I really do prefer those ugly construction calendars to the more ascetically beautiful Pagan-oriented ones. Of course, if the Pagan publishers ever offered wall calendar with as much space to write in, I might change my mind!] The plush frog prince was a gift given to me just before the pre-release party for Everyday Sun Magic by the folks who planned my 50th birthday bash, and he's larger than a small child. In fact, I nearly had to buy an extra plane ticket to get him home! LOL!
Here you can get a little better view of the banner hanging on my door. Kathy, a dear friend, made it for me as a Yule gift, and it not only has my picture on it, but pictures of all of my bookcovers as of that date. To the left, you can also see the beautiful corn dolly that I picked up in Omaha, courtesy of Shawn and Shirley. And if you look really closely in between the two, you may be able to pick out the work of another famous Pagan artist. That's right, it's a Robin Wood print, signed by the artist, herself. And what's that stuff sort of hidden in the plant? Why, it's my altar, of course!
This is a portion of the back wall of my office. And except for the autographed Mickie Mueller print, the Goddess print below it, and the witch's hat sitting atop the reams of paper, this view resembles the view of every other writer's office on the planet. Well...sort of. The truth of the matter is that they probably don't have a Zitella doll. Or a Dorothy Dollar. Or a certificate of appreciation from the Tempest Smith Foundation or various and sundry magical wands gracing their shelves. They probably don't even have a gold star with their tenant's picture on it. But one thing's for sure. They have books - and lots of them. [Hmmmm...wonder if this means I'm slowly becoming a mainstream, run of the mill sort of gal?! NOT! LOL!]
Yeah, okay...so I probably have lots of things in my office that other writers don't have. On the top shelf left, you'll notice a tree of witch's hats and a fabulous porcelain edition of the Wicked Witch of the West. Moving down, you'll find a couple of stuffed frogs that were birthed especially for me. One of them is "Sellars," and a pinch of his paw delivers the voice of M.R. Sellars, himself, begging me to change him back. [Into what, I'm not sure. We've never really gotten around to discussing that! Chuckle!] And next to him, sits his little sister, "Magic Happens," who shares my birthday and was created for me by Mumsy for my 50th birthday. So, what happens when you pinch her paw?! Why, she emits the tune from my favorite slot machine!
So, what's this?! It's a portion of my right back wall. Starting from the bottom is a decoupaged trunk - with pictures of the Cailleach and various Celtic symbols - that I procured while I was in Maine from one of the local artisans.
And yes...that really is an apron hanging right above it. Not just any apron, though. This was given to me as a 50th birthday gift by my good friends, Pam and George, after hearing that I'd threatened to poison a fellow author. [Surely they misunderstood, for we all know that I'd never threaten to do anything like that! Chuckle!]
Hanging above the apron is a wonderful contemporary print of a witch stirring up only-the-Gods-know-what in her cauldron, while her cat flies upside down on her broom. The caption reads, "This Brew's For You," so it's a fitting companion for the apron. But that's not the only reason it's hanging in my office. The main reason is that it was given to me by Hardee - the wonderful gentleman who bestowed me with the "HeadWitch" nickname - and that's reason aplenty for it to be there. ;)
Resting right in the middle of my office is this oak pedestal piece that I use as my "play table." [Well, you didn't think all I did was write, did you?! Chuckle! Creativity - regardless of the mode - stems from the child within, so every creative person should take time out to play once in a while. Otherwise, the Muses get bored and eventually find someone else to inspire. And that's not a place any writer wants to go.] Actually, it's usually a lot messier than this. But it's where I work on my scrapbook projects, sew, piece quilts, embroider and do beadwork.
This is a full view of the huge bay window in my office - and it's also where most of my favorite things live. The top is crowned with a good number of my book covers and a couple of awards I've won for writing. Most of the stained glass pieces hanging there were crafted by GlasWorx in Sanford, Maine. [To see more of their beautiful artistry, check out the GlasWorx website.] The shelves in the center hold a variety of plants - pothos ivy, arrowhead, and an assortment of constantly blooming African violets - as well as a couple of witch's shoes, a handcarved Ganesha statue, a faces of the Goddess vase, some beeswax candles, a plaster palmistry hand, and miscellaneous money and protection charms, and a variety of other fun things. If you look to the right, you can also catch a glimpse of my fabulous fortune-telling doll, a gift from Rhianna of Dreaming Goddess.
This is just a closer shot of my window, scanning the bottom and the window seat. A tour of my office wouldn't be complete, after all, unless you saw my collection of witch's hats!
So...now you've seen the office, gotten a feel for the type of atmosphere that feeds my personal creativity, and hopefully, picked up a few ideas for feeding your own.
For me, it's keeping the people who love me, inspire me, and believe in me close by, even if only in in symbolism - for they are the ones who keep me moving forward, project after project. It's their trust in my ability to create that keeps me in my work space for more than twelve hours a day when I'm home, and helps me to manage those sixteen to eighteen hour days on the tour circuit when I'm not. And it's they - along with The Ancients - and the memories and sentiments they evoke, that inspire the ideas that will not only become what I write today, but in what I write tomorrow. And I'm willing to bet that you'll find the same thing is true for you.