Everything Books
Writing and reading and books, books, books (and anything that might relate)

December 3, 2012

When a bookcase isn’t just a bookcase

When I was growing up, I loved Nancy Drew. Her stories were always full of tunnels and secret passageways and walls that became doors if you knew just where to press. These tunnels and passageways meant mystery and danger and, of course, excitement. I love this kind of thing so much, I even wrote a secret staircase into Becoming Clementine:

Beyond the glass case was a door, and Gossie opened this and I followed her inside. Bookcases stood on three walls. She shut the door tight behind us and plucked a book out of the middle shelf. I watched as she pressed a button in the wood. Another door swung open, which led into a small room. Rising up out of the middle of it, like a ship’s hatch, was a narrow set of stairs with no railing…

As I’ve been re-envisioning my office this past weekend, I find myself daydreaming about having my very own bookcase that leads to a secret room beyond…

Kind of like these:

November 30, 2012

Spring cleaning

When Thornton Wilder finished writing his novel Theophilus North, he told friends: “So I finished the plagued book. I’m accustomed to turn my back on a piece of work once it’s finished– but it’s something new for me to feel empty-handed and deflated– to wake up each morning without that sense of the task waiting for me on my desk. Daily writing is a habit– and a crutch and a support; and for the first time I feel cast adrift and roofless without it. I hate this and am going to get back into a harness as soon as I can.”

I couldn’t have said it better. It is amazing how sad and purposeless and lost you feel after finishing a manuscript, even when that manuscript still has many steps to go through before publication. I handed the fourth Velva Jean novel (American Blonde) over to my editor in mid-September. Soon, she will send it back to me with her first round of notes and we will go back and forth till the novel is ready.

There is a mountain of other writerly work to be done. Even without American Blonde on my desk, I am as busy as ever. However, I still feel like Dickens’s Miss Havisham, wandering around my office, bereft and lonely, still dressed in my writing clothes, searching for the next idea. I have many, many, many of them, but until I’ve settled on one and am lost inside it, that feeling of being adrift and roofless will linger.

Usually, there is only one thing to do. Clear away the cobwebs and clean the office.

To offer some perspective, the only time I ever feel like cleaning is when I finish a book. I am not someone who vacuums to relax (like my best friend), or who scrubs the refrigerator shelves when she’s angry (like another friend of mine). Growing up, you couldn’t even tell that I had a floor because every inch of my carpet was covered in clothing, books, and records.

But to make ready for whatever comes next, I need to clean my office. Not just dusting and straightening– we’re talking some sort of overhaul. I need to clear away some of the clutter, reorganize bookshelves and closet, move my desk, reconfigure the furniture and general layout. In short, new book, new office. It happens every time.

Soon enough, I’ll be happily back in that harness, and I might as well be ready for it.

February 13, 2012

In Search of the Perfect Reading Chair

Filed under: writing — Tags: , , , , , , — jennifer @ 12:03 pm

Now that I’ve handed in the copy edits, here are the primary things I’m working on:

~ Creating, shooting, appearing in (!), and producing a book trailer for Becoming Clementine. (More on this later…)

~ Updating my website for Becoming Clementine, building web pages for the book as well as redesigning my homepage to feature the cover (which means I’ll be revealing the brand new cover soon!). (No, I don’t actually do the implementing and the building– my computer genuis boyfriend handles that.)

~ Researching and outlining Velva Jean’s adventure in Hollywood (hereafter referred to as “Hollywood”), which means sifting through volumes of material from that era, including book after book on everything from the studio system to Max Factor to Hollywood nightlife to the story of MGM to Los Angeles and the mob to every movie star biography/autobiography ever written about or by a star of the 1940s.

With all this researching and outlining, I’ve been reading at my desk, averaging two books a day, hunched over in my office chair, going back and forth between the book and my computer, where I’m inputting notes. At the end of the work day, my back feels 150 years old, and while yoga and Physique 57 certainly help, the next session at my desk seems to undo most of the good they’ve done.

So I am on the hunt for a cozy, comfortable reading chair– this is in addition to my office chair– something I can sink into and relax in, and something that will ideally be big enough to hold me and several books and maybe a literary cat or two at the same time. Of course, it also has to have a nice sense of style and look good in my office.

And, perhaps most important, the cats have to like it. After all, they spend almost all day every day with me in my office and they are always looking for new and exciting places to sleep. (Usually on top of my work or on the computer keyboard.)

Any recommendations? If so, I’d love to hear them.