Wednesday, March 19, 2014

My Workplace – Mobile Musings

My Workplace – Mobile Musings
By: Gail MacMillan

I’ve always written from the time I could first form letters into words so I’d have to say my first workspace was my bed where I sat huddled against my pillows in the glow of a small lamp scribbling in secret long after lights out. These tales I hid under my bed, afraid to admit to anyone that I dared to attempt to emulate actual authors. Authors, I believed, were next to the gods on Mount Olympus with their gifts of conjuring stories out of thin air in an absolutely enthralling fashion. I had no right to try to attempt to enter their exalted realm.

But I continued to be a closet (or under the bed one) writer for years. When I married my husband Ron he discovered my secret addiction and insisted I join a writer’s group. That did it. Spurred on by that enthusiastic gathering, I wrote at every possible moment, my favorite spot being the front steps of the two room shack we called our camp in Tabusintac. I filled notebooks and every scrap of available paper with stories and even short novels. I bought a second hand manual typewriter and began to write boldly, openly at the kitchen table where any passing neighbor might come upon me. Third page headlines in the Moncton Times after my first book was published dubbed me the kitchen table novelist.

Later, in attempt to find a quiet place to write, I set up shop on a wobbly-legged card table in a corner of our unfinished basement. When the kids were finally all in school, I moved my shakey writing centre upstairs to our bedroom. There I wrote two more books and a bunch of short stories for religious (now called Christian, I believe) magazines. And just before I moved again, I began to write the dog stories that would take me in a whole new direction.

Two years later we finished our basement. This remodeling included a small office for me behind the furnace and the room where we were to store our winter’s supply of fire wood. Thus isolated, I felt I’d be undisturbed to write and write and write. My husband, bless him, in support of my elusive dream, even built me a beautiful roll top desk that took him an entire winter to complete.

It didn’t work out. I soon discovered my imagination couldn’t flare locked away below ground level behind several cords of hardwood with only one small window. I found myself holding a tablet or notebook on my knee in various brighter, more convivial locations. Later I’d force myself into that cube in the basement where, thanks to a modest inheritance, I now had a miracle machine…a self correcting typewriter…to transcribe my stories.

These days, a laptop accommodates my moods and fancies. Summers at our cottage in Tabusintac, I set up in the gazebo out back where I have a lovely view of fields and trees, birds and squirrels, and the occasional fox. When the chill of late October drives me indoors, I once again become a kitchen table novelist.

Winters in Bathurst I mostly write at the dining room table (apparently you can take the table away from the girl but you can’t get the girl away from the table). From my vantage point I have a lovely view of both my backyard and the street in front of the house. My dogs are my associate editors, always ready to tell me when it’s break time, waiting patiently when it isn’t.

My office sits alone and uninhabited except for floor-to-ceiling, well-filled book shelves, filing cabinets, and bulletin boards. We’ve moved the beautiful roll top desk upstairs to Ron’s office. The expensive typing chair my doctor insisted I needed to keep arms and shoulders pain-free sits gathering dust in front of my old desk top (which still comes into play whenever the laptop is ailing). I really should be sitting in that chair, in the book-lined office, isolated from the rest of the house and neighborhood, working like a rented mule, but I just can’t seem to get the hang of it. Instead, I sit at the dining room table, then sometimes in my grandmother’s rocking chair in the living room and dream up handsome heroes and unstoppable heroines, often in pj’s and slippers.

I admire the other authors who have been Norah’s guests. How organized, how professional, how in control they all are. Maybe someday when we finally build that sunroom we’ve been talking about for years, I, too, will settle down in a single location. But until then, like the Littiest Hobo, I’ll just keep movin’ on.

Gail MacMillan
Three Time Maxwell Medal Winner
From The Wild Rose Press:
Lady & the Beast, Caledonian Privateer
Ghost of Winters Past, Holding Off for a Hero
Rogue's Revenge, Counterfeit Cowboy,
and Shadows of Love
Coming soon:
Heather for a Highlander and
How My Heart Finds Christmas

Find Gail's Books Here

1 comment:

Liz Flaherty said...

I have an office I can (and do) work in now, big and open and next to a big window, but for years I couldn't. The laptop certainly did make writing a more convenient thing, didn't it? :-)