Ratty knew what he was talking about….

When the Queensland Writers Centre put out a call for authors to spill the beans on their writing spaces, I jumped to. Always willing to help out the QWC! This blog tour is from February to April 2010. While you are there, check out the other authors on the Queensland Writers Centre’s blog.


“There is nothing – absolutely nothing – half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.”

And like Ratty in Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows, that is exactly how I feel in the room where I write.

Some authors I know write at their kitchen bench, between the kids’ lunchboxes and milky cereal bowls, grabbing an hour or so before other duties call. Or in a state-of-the-arts’ garden-shed in the backyard – connected to the internet, with library shelves and carpet underfoot.

Not everyone has a special room to write in, so you do the best you can – what matters is the writing you actually do. But if you can have a space of your own, you are free. Free to simply mess about … like Ratty! Or be messy in, as is often the case with me. Mine you – my ‘mess’ is probably someone else’s ‘tidy’.

My space to mess about is my writing room on the front of our house in sub-tropical Brisbane. Big corner windows look out over the garden and to the street. I get to see when the local kids occasionally play chicken with cars; when blue-faced honey-eaters hang upside down in the palm leaves pulling out grubs, or when there is a storm brewing in the south-west. But most of the time my eyes are on the screen – lost in a story or two.

In my work space (and I’m lucky to have a whole room to myself) I have my CD player, favourite music, my favourite books and some of my art work. I’ve been working on a 58,000 word manuscript, hence the pile of paper and the book of Shakespeare’s quotes at hand. There are also a couple of photos of our son, David – one when he was a cheeky 8-year-old, and the other one, a particular favourite one of mine, as a 20-year-old trekking through the New Zealand alps.

On the floor behind my chair are files, folders and more printed pages that I must sort out – one of these days.

Do you have a place to mess about in? Drop in and tell us about your writing space.


11 thoughts on “Ratty knew what he was talking about….

  1. You have a lovely writing room with a great view, Sheryl.

    I’m lucky enough to have an office to myself. When my husband built the house, he asked me to draw the plan. So I did. I included an office just for me. LOL. Trouble is, it gets quite messy sometimes. In my office is my desk, shelves full of books and dolls. I also have a TV, video, printer and a lounge for reading. I have a lovely view from the window of the gum trees and kangaroos.

    There is a quaint little shop in our village that sells recycled gifts, clothes and toys. When ever I start a new story, the lovely lady finds a toy to match. So far, I have a rabbit, a mouse, a doll called Molly, a mermaid, a kangaroo, and a weird looking fairy. She sits on my desk at the moment and inspires me to write my latest story.

    I have a photo of my office, but I haven’t posted it on my blog as it shows how messy my desk is


  2. Hello Sheryl,
    Thank you for letting us have a look inside your writing space. Makes me feel so much better to hear that you and others have clutter and the (very important) pieces of paper that need filing. I thought that was just me. What a relief.
    I have a section of the closed in verandah. I can close the door and block out the rest of the house. Trouble is everyone seems to wander in and out for no apparent reason. Could be because the bathroom/ toilet and the phone are in the same area.
    I am waiting for the day my grandson leaves and I can take over his bedroom once more and make that my dream-time room with the added enjoyment of the aircon.


  3. LOL, Karen. Yes, the blog tour was meant to show the daily reality of a writer’s work space, and on some days I’m overtaken by clutter, but if I don’t do something about it, I go nuts. Tidy area means tidy mind to me, and that means I can concentrate on creating. 🙂 Enjoyed your blog too.


  4. Hi Cheryl,
    Thanx for sharing your Writing Space. Our writing spaces both share a similar outdoor view of tropical Brisbane, the outside garden of palms and to the street. Also our real mess of files and folders is out of frame.
    Lisette of QWC called your office UGLY but I think its quite beautiful. LOL. Karen :))


  5. What a lovely writing room Sheryl. It must be so inspiring.

    My writing room is dark so not so good for ideas. I have installed a bird bath outside the window so that’s nice. The doves and noisy miners and wattle birds line up for their daily bath.
    I have a bed in my room so if I want to working late I can.

    I find the most productive place for me is away from the house, from the housework and from the internet. I take my laptop to a cosy cafe, plug in my ipod and off I go. One hour of cafe writing is equal to a morning of interrupted, unfocussed writing at home.


  6. Sheryl, lovely to have a peek inside your writing space. Pre-kids I used to have an office, but now we use up all the rooms in the house (although hubby, who works from home, has an office & a spare room for all his junk – I mean resources – which is possibly a tad unfair). I have one end of our loungeroom to call my own. With my L-shaped desk, a few bookcases, a printer and laptop, I’m good to go. It’s just a shame I don’t get more time to actually sit there and write! I also write a lot of my stuff on my NEO which is a portable, battery-operated keyboard. NEO can go anywhere so my office is portable in that sense, although unlike Dee, I prefer it to be relatively quiet – or at least it be other people’s children making the noise, not mine!


  7. Hi Sheryl,

    I have a great little room which you will get to visit later this month. It used to be our spare room/sewing room, but now it is known as ‘Mum’s Study’. My desk faces the ceiling to floor window and this year I watched baby birds in their nest being fed outside.

    Next to my writing desk is my art desk with new lamp. I haven’t got a lot done there since it was properly set up as my art seems to happen all over the house.

    In winter when my mother-in-law visits, I move out of my study and put my writing desk in my bedroom. It’s warmer there anyway and has better light in the afternoon. I don’t mind, she’s a treasure. Of course it takes me a couple of weeks to settle back into things.

    I’m also enjoying my new lush office chair. That I don’t give up for anyone.

    Cheers Angela


  8. My space is a desk in the corner of what would be our formal dining, if we were formal dining type people (I ask you – who needs TWO dining areas? One of which is carpetted???) My desk is a jumble of bits of paper, folders, a pile of books wiating to be reviewed, little ornaments meant to inspire, unpaid bills and more. But it’s MY space and it works.


  9. Sheryl,

    I got very nostalgic when I saw your office. I had such a lovely time ‘messing around’ in it when I was up in Brisbane.

    My writing space is anywhere my head is…and that can be all over the place lol. Wherever I write, I’m usually accompanied by at least one four legged friend.

    I used to work as a writer in the middle of the creative studio of a very busy advertising agency; so I can write anywhere, anytime – and fortunately don’t need darkness, peace, quiet or comfort. In fact I have been known to write on toilet paper (unused of course), tissues, takeaway menus and cardboard drink coasters in hotels:-)

    As always, I enjoyed your post.



  10. Unfortunately ‘mess around in’ is too appropriate a phrase for my work space, Sheryl. Not a room, but a growing space at the end of our family area. My actual typing space is always clear – because I wouldn’t want to clutter up my mouse – but surrounding surfaces are a culmination of school, personal and writing ‘stuff’!

    I’d like my desk butted up to the glass door overlooking the gums and lush grass (at the moment) but alas, the sun and wind use that entry too, and what doesn’t fade away, blows away. Instead, I’m overlooking the caravan, with the dog outside, at my feet, and many memories of happy holidays…

    (We have an excess of glass doors in this place – and since boys go merrily in one and out the other without closing either, I tend to obstruct 1/2 of the doorways with furniture… in this case, my office desk.)


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