My so-called studio began as a child’s bedroom and still gets called into service when necessary, courtesy of a futon along the east wall.
Besides the futon, I have a large desk, two bookcases and two filing cabinets in the room. The north window looks out onto my back yard, a view of green-leafed trees in the summer and stark branches in the winter. A wooden folk art cow sits on the window ledge. The walls are covered with family photographs. Floor space is inevitably littered with pet toys since Ouzo the cat and Jaeger the dog follow me into the room whenever I enter it.
The desktop computer holds all our farm financial records, although as my husband and I edge towards full retirement, those entries take up less and less of my time and the paperwork takes up less and less space. The room also serves as the home office for my 35-hour a week off-farm job (an off-farm job that I work at on the farm, an oxymoron if there ever was one). Desk, filing cabinet and closet space is taken up primarily with the paper and office paraphernalia related to that job.
And yes, I use the room for writing, too.
But it is not really a studio. I call it the multi-purpose room.
The benefit to having a designated room is that, when I am in it, family members know that I am working. They just don’t know what kind of work I’m doing.
Sometimes I use my laptop or a pad of paper in another room – sitting on the couch in the living room, for example, where the south-facing window shows field and pasture. Depending on the season, I can see growing crops, pasturing cattle or the endless white of winter. A tall evergreen obscures the view; my father-in-law planted it in the front yard for our children when they were little. Now it towers over everything, a Christmas tree for all seasons.
Occasionally I may sit at the kitchen table where the summertime view outside the garden doors often includes cats, dogs and feeding hummingbirds. But I only sit at the kitchen table to write when I am alone. As in many farm homes, the kitchen table is a place for gathering, drinking coffee and discussing. It is a social place, not generally a solitary one.
Sometimes when I need to escape the competing demands of home and employment, I go somewhere miles away— a bed and breakfast, a hotel, or a cabin—some place with different scenery, no job emails to answer, no animals to feed and no household chores to complete. I enjoy the perspective that a different location gives to my thoughts.
Wherever I am, my writing project is never far from my thoughts. Ideas are written in notebooks, on scraps of paper or the back of an envelope. My work involves a lot of driving and I have been known to pull over onto the side of the road in order to record a thought before it vanishes. I keep a notepad on the stand beside my bed in case I have a brilliant thought during the night although what seems brilliant at 2 a.m. often dulls in the light of day.
In some ways, it does not matter where I am. The thought process is not location-specific, as long as I have a pen and paper to write things down and hold them in place until I can return to the multi-purpose room.