Rebecca Roland lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where she writes primarily fantasy and horror. Her short fiction has appeared in Uncle John’s Flush Fiction and in Stupefying Stories, and she is a graduate of the Odyssey Writing Workshop.
When she’s not writing, she’s usually spending time with her family, torturing patients as a physical therapist, or eating way too much chocolate.
My Writing Space
by Rebecca Roland
I have three places where I do most of my writing, although my home office gets the most use.
My office is in the room that was probably intended to be a formal dining room. It opens into the kitchen as well as into a living area. There are no doors to shut out the rest of the house, and while that is sometimes inconvenient, I enjoy the openness of it. My office also has a window with a view of the park. Whenever I end up staring into space while thinking, I end up staring out that window. I’ve seen plenty of soccer games, a wedding, a man walking his cat on a leash, and even a trio of men filming a scene where a guy gets hauled away in a fake sheriff’s car by a fake sheriff. It’s much more entertaining than staring at a blank computer screen in frustration.
I like having the office right next to the kitchen, although my waistline might sometimes suffer for it. I usually have a cup of coffee or a diet soda beside me while I work, and I often eat at my desk because my writing time is finite. The walls are a red color called “pepper.” It’s a deep, rich red, although you can’t see much of it since bookshelves, art, and mementos cover most of them. When I first set up the office, I hung three framed posters of book cover art. Looking over my shoulder as I write are the covers to I, Robot, The Grapes of Wrath, and A Farewell to Arms. On another wall I have the first three dollars I made when I sold a flash fiction piece called “The Secret Ingredient” to the anthology Shelter of Daylight. Beside it is a framed and autographed picture of Nicholas Brendon, aka Xander of Buffy fame.
The office is usually slightly messy, and the desk is always covered with a few strands of cat hair since she enjoys looking out the window as much as I do. The bookshelves are crammed with books and miscellaneous items, like a cow painted with Las Vegas scenes (my husband and I got married in Vegas), a mug that a patient made for me (Arm Bender Extraordinaire!), and an ash tray that I won for making the most improvement in time at an autocross (I don’t smoke, and I’m not sure why an ash tray in the first place). The bookshelves hold fiction, autobiographies, cookbooks, bibles, poetry, books on child rearing and education, books on writing, and textbooks. I’m surprised they haven’t come crashing down yet.
When I need to step away from the desk but I can’t leave the house, I end up writing on the patio outside. The furniture is comfy, the chairs are in the shade, and the dogs are always happy to keep me company. That’s actually what I did this morning. I enjoyed the fresh air, the roses, the buzzing of hummingbirds and bees, and the occasional butterfly. About a block away, the elementary school’s bells were going off, in preparation for the new school year I suppose. In a couple of weeks those bells will be accompanied by the distant sound of children shouting and laughing during recess.
When I need to get out of the house, I head for a local coffee shop. They know me so well that if I order something different, I really throw them for a loop. There’s seating inside and outside on a patio. The people watching is almost always fascinating, as are the conversations. I admit, sometimes I surreptitiously jot down bits of interesting conversation to mine for story ideas later. I’ve heard people discuss strained relationships with their children, why one man was the best disc jockey a couple could hire, and how pickles terrified one girl to the point where she couldn’t even touch them. Sometimes different scenery is all that’s needed to help me through a particularly tough time figuring out a character or plot problem. Along with caffeine and pastries, of course!