Head space

When I quit my job to start freelancing, lo these many years ago, I was very serious about my work space.I had a little office, and I would trundle up there each morning with my patient brown dog and sit in my seat until I had made the requisite number of phone calls or written the necessary number of pages.  The room had sliding doors with a teensy balcony that overlooked the barn and horses. A cowbird would sit on the balcony and harangue me, and eventually I turned my desk to the wall so I would not be distracted.

An office came with this house, too, and although I turned my desk to the wall to avoid the view and focus on work, distractions managed to creep in.(See below.) I became adept at writing a few sentences, reading a story, then writing a few more.

Last year, my husband redid my office for my birthday. He painted it two gorgeous colors, found a beautiful wooden table, and set the whole room up. But now that both my children are in school, I find it hard to write there. My office is suddenly too quiet. Instead I sit at the kitchen table, overlooking the hummingbird feeder. I type a few lines, glance up the clock, type a few more. I pretend I’m telling a story, not writing a book. The new dog, not as patient as the old, is unhappy with this routine. He sits outside in the sun, watching the neighbors and waiting for the clock to show 3 p.m., the hour when distractions begin.

Liz Michalski


  1. Jan O'Hara (Tartitude) on September 25, 2012 at 12:56 pm

    I love the image of the haranguing cowbird. I have two cats that serve that purpose, though once fed, they’re considerably less diligent.

    My working space shifts. At my most productive for fiction, it was a mainframe computer on the dining room table with the dust motes dancing in the sunshine. Frank took over that space, though, so I have a formal office and it’s not the same.

    • liz on September 25, 2012 at 1:01 pm

      The slobbering beast has no interest in hanging with me these days — the activity level isn’t to his liking. : )

      It’s odd, Jan. I can revise just fine in my office, but for actually writing scenes, my brain has made the kitchen the primary spot. Which is a pain, because I have to pack up at the end of every afternoon.

  2. Coffee & a BookChick (@CoffeeBookChick) on September 25, 2012 at 1:08 pm

    There is just something about a kitchen table that affords much more creativity and comfort. My home office is also where I work for my day job and I’ve never redecorated it to feel simultaneously corporate and creative. Maybe one of these days. For now, when I’m reading or blogging, it’s usually done in my main living areas. Much cozier, especially in the cooler seasons!

    • liz on September 25, 2012 at 1:21 pm

      I think that’s a lot of it. The office feels too much like ‘work’ these days while the kitchen signifies fun and family time. (And homework and messes and cleaning…you’d really think my brain would prefer the office!)

  3. charleneoldham on September 25, 2012 at 5:05 pm

    Here’s a story I recently did in which I talk to one freelancer who has to get out of the house to get anything done. Personally, I use my local library a lot:

    • liz on September 26, 2012 at 2:33 pm

      I’ve done the library thing too, Charlene, but I tend to get distracted by the books. Go figure. : )

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