The creative engine-room.

I got the idea for this post from a UK TV short arts show that features writers and their workplaces. The get to speak of what inspires and why the stuff they surround themselves with is there. I found it interesting to compare, noting which writers I related to and which I didn’t. Eclectic and a bit arty – I’m there. Too disorganised I’m not. Too neat and I’m not there. Too methodical and office nine to five – no.

The images here show my work place. Please forgive me if this seems self -interested or egotistical. It could be those things and perhaps there are elements so it would be disingenuous to insist otherwise. We authors and I mean all published authors, Indie or otherwise, are in the business of selling, be it an idea, an image, an escape, a history, our stories, our celebrity – God forbid. We sell our work and therefore bits of ourselves.

So here is my version of that show – my creative engine room. Sorry, our creative room. My beloved ‘B’ shares it. We have a room across the hall from the study which is floor to ceiling books, we call it … the library. We do pass each other on the way in and out of there. Not all research is done on-line! Let’s start with the most pragmatic:

Wall 3.

Wall 3.

Storage, see it, yes, enough said.

Maps. Oh I do need maps, big see-it-all-at-once maps. Google earth has it’s place but I need the big picture. I need the scale that only big wall maps like these can give. One’s world view is given proper perspective when one can see it all and see what a tiny bit of it we each inhabit.

Cute cats are B’s thing. The big shelves in the corner, also seen in wall 1, is standard reference books, yea books again. Word’s spell checker and thesaurus are quick but limited. So dictionaries in several languages. The Oxford and Collins dictionaries are the most thumbed. I go for the OED while ‘B’ goes for the Collins. Also here, but not obvious, is my remote headphone station. I can plug this into the Macs and listen to iTunes or radio streams. Or more often when working, my iPod Nano and the play lists there. I listen mostly to classical when working. Lyrics get in my head and in the way. The beauty of the big remote headphones is: I can walk away and the music follows. Even up the drive to the post box or to the pond to peer at the fish. The range is about one hundred and fifty yards.

Wall 2.

Wall 2.

This is B’s work station. The big iMac suits her and she does a lot of printing and copying. There is a laser printer one side and inkjet/copy/scanner the other. The pin board is – a pin board. Stuff to remember and stuff to make us smile and feel the warmth of places and times important in our past.

The fishing boat model is there because I like it and I’m reminded of the heroics of those who go to sea to bring me the thing I love to cook and eat above all else – fish. Your are never far from the sea and a fishing boat anywhere in Ireland. Less than one hours drive in any direction.

To the right of the board on wall 1 – the big knives and the picture with medals are a sort of homage to my father. The picture is him just before the second world war, taken in East Africa.  He was under twenty and already a sergeant.  The big hooked knife is from Nepal. A Gurkha weapon called a Kukri. He fought against the Japanese and was sometimes attached to the Gurkha Rifles in northern India and Burma. The medals date from that time. That war was called the ‘forgotten war’ by those who fought it. It was overshadowed by events in Europe and later in the Pacific. It was a bloody viscous slog in unbearable heat in fearsome jungles. The Brits and Indians won. They beat the Japanese back the length of Burma – back down the road to Mandalay and Rangoon. The story of that war and my father’s role in it will be told in the last of history trilogy: ‘The Forgotten War.’

Wall 1.

Wall 1.

My bit. Such a lot here but let’s start at the window. The feathers and stuff is called a dream catcher and is a slightly tacky reproduction of the real First-Nation thing.  I had the real thing once.  I was given it when I was seventeen. It didn’t survive all the moving around I’ve done.

The art on the walls is by my daughter, Ria. They date from her student days.

My back catalogue is there on the table for two reasons: I refer to them sometimes to keep continuity on the last of the Daniel series I’m writing now: ‘Trial’. The other reason is … well, as I said we are all in the business of selling. You might like them and buy them?

‘Trial’ is also on screen on my Apple Powerbook. I’ve got it set up on a stand here with a keyboard and mouse but it does travel up-stairs to my bedroom.  The big Mac and screen is an elderly PowerMac G3. Huge capacity and used for storage, back up and visuals.  On top is model of an Italian icon called and Apé. A three wheeled utility of great charm. It features in a chapter of Pyramid. The globes on the window are actually jigsaws. A present to B who loved making them. Well that’s it, a tour of the engine room.

I hope you enjoyed nebbing and nosing in my workplace as much as I enjoyed the TV gawping version.

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