Where I Work: Elizabeth Wein
The pictures included here are spontaneous and random because, like Mr Earbrass in Edward Gorey’s The Unstrung Harp, I belong “to the straying, rather than the sedentary type of author.” I am “never to be found at [my] desk unless actually writing down a sentence.”
The summer house (in our back garden) has been dubbed by one of my readers “Tiny Little House O’ Writing.” It is a miniature imitation of the summer cottage in Pennsylvania where I spent all my summers as a child and where my grandmother now lives. It is also the space we have instead of a porch, because they don’t do porches in Scotland (the average summer temperature is 61 F / 16 C). The summer house has got a heater and electricity installed. It is called a “summer house” because you can sit in it and pretend it is summer.
The cat’s name is Hershi. He is always by my side when I am working at home, on the table watching me, or under the table next to my feet, or sleeping on a chair close by.
The dining room table is where I write when it is too cold to sit in the summer house, which is most of the year, even with the heater installed. I do have a desk, but I haven’t actually sat there to write since 2009. I use the desk as an extension of my many filing cabinets.
In the morning, when the sun is coming in, I like to write in the bay window in the living room. The front garden is big and a little overgrown and makes me feel like I am in the woods, even though our house is on the main road into Perth. There is a beech hedge, a rhododendron hedge, and three linden trees hiding the road from our house. I confess that when I am sitting in the bay window, I like to pretend it is a turret in a castle (I think I have St. Michael’s Mount, in Cornwall, in mind).
If it is warm enough and not raining, which is about two weeks in the year, I sometimes sit in the tiny garden at the side of our house. There are lilacs and apple trees and a rain barrel there. It feels like a country cottage garden even though it isn’t. I think that what most of my favorite writing places have in common is that they fool me into thinking I am somewhere else. I don’t know what that says about my writing.
The other thing they have in common is that they are very photogenic. At least once a week I go sit with a friend in the Winter Garden at the Crieff Hydro (actually at the table in the picture in the link: http://www.crieffhydro.com/leisure/food-and-drink/the-winter-garden.aspx ); we write there together for about four hours at a time. I like to vary my hangouts.
Elizabeth Wein is the award-winning author of Code Name Verity (2012). Her new novel, Rose Under Fire (both Disney-Hyperion, 2013), will be released in the United States in September.
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