by Robin Spano
Question of the Week: Do you pull down your shades and shut out the world when you write? Or are you motivated by a city view? A view of nature? What is the ideal landscape for your creativity?
When we first looked at buying this home, a neglected old house that was literally in danger of slipping down the cliff it's built into, there was a room on the lower level that I had pegged as the one I wanted for my office. It was private, away from the bustle of bedrooms and kitchens and potential house guests who I thought might get in my way and break my creative trance.
My husband, Keith, begged to differ.
“You can't see from down there. You just see trees. Come look at the view from this room on the second floor.”
So I grudgingly followed him up to see what I knew would be a subpar office option. I figured he must have a different plan for that awesome perfect room down below with all that privacy, and he was clearly trying to sell me on this other room so the one I liked could be his for something else.
“Ta-da!” Keith opened the door into the tiniest, most junk-cluttered room in the house. The carpet was stained and the room was too small to be anything other than a closet.
“Very funny,” I said. “The view is great. But I like that other room better.”
We bought the house and agreed to decide on my office later. When we took possession, and the previous owner's junk had been cleared out, I looked at the tiny upstairs room again. The view was stellar. The carpet was disgusting.
“I figure I can build in an L-shaped desk,” Keith said. He showed me where he'd put the shelves. “We can strip off the carpet and you can have whatever floor you like. And you know the biggest advantage? This is too small to convert to a guest room, even if we have a full house.”
My brain perked up on that point. It was true. A blow-up mattress wouldn't even fit onto the floor space. Until then, every office space I'd had would double as a guest room in a pinch.
“Okay,” I said. “Let's take out the carpet and see.”
Now, nearly four years later, I cannot imagine what I was thinking to turn this little space down. I love my tiny office that will never be a guest room, but more than that: it doesn't feel tiny at all. It feels massive and expansive every time I look outside.
The view from my desk is a fjord called Howe Sound, about 30 minutes northwest of downtown Vancouver and an hour south of Whistler. I see mountains, islands, old growth forest. I see fishing boats, kayakers, pleasure crafts, dolphins hunting schools of herring. I see crows chasing eagles, eagles swooping down for prey. Right now as I type there's a mean looking gray boat that might be a shrimper...or maybe it's a government spy.
The view changes with the weather, the season, the time of day. I could stare outside for hours and never get bored. It helps me focus on what matters, which helps me focus on my writing.
I don't like to say these words often, and I think I'm safe now because he doesn't read these blog posts, but Keith was right and I was wrong.