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Peter Schilling’s Writing Space

Peter Schilling Jr.‘s The End of Baseball is his debut novel, new in paperback this month.  Set in 1944 during World War II and at a time when African-American baseball players were being integrated into the major leagues, the novel follows young Bill Veeck Jr.‘s foray into baseball team ownership and the obstacles he must overcome to use black players in the Philadelphia Athletics to get to the World Series.

I haven’t had a chance to review the book yet, but Schilling was gracious enough to provide a guest post about his writing space.  And I know how much you love these sneak peeks.  Please welcome Peter Schilling.

I work upstairs in my old, 1923 brick house. The upstairs attic was finished sometime probably in the 1980s, and has carpeting, as opposed to the rest of the place, which sports hardwood floors. The attic, or factory as I like to call it, is the perfect writing space. It’s the length of the house, its insulated from noise (so I can work even when someone’s downstairs watching television), has its own bathroom, futon, and all the space I need for all my clutter.  It is very quiet up here, which I enjoy. You can see down the block from my window and feel the house shake when a train goes by.

As you can see, I write on a white drafting table. I like the slight incline on the surface, and I like the way the surface reflects the light from the outside. Things stand out on that surface–my tchotchke’s, icons, photos, and notes. I have a piece of cloth in the center that I use to write on, which my father made and on which he used to perform slight-of-hand magic.

I write my first drafts in longhand, using a Mont Blanc fountain pen a friend gave me, in black journals. Then I pull out my MacBook and transcribe. Surrounding my desk, and in arm’s reach (it’s hard to get in and out), I have a dictionary, thesaurus, the Complete Film Dictionary (I’m writing a screenplay), other books for research, pen cartridges, journals, note cards, and, on the walls, various items that interest or inspire: a current tide calendar from where my wife and I honeymooned, photos of people I admire (Jackie Robinson, Bill Veeck, Alfred E. Neuman, Robert Mitchum, Mark Fidrych, my father, etc.) And a big poster of “Mulholland Dr.“, because I’m in awe of that movie.

The rest of the space is filled with eight bookshelves, filled with baseball books, novels and pulpy paperbacks, poetry, film biographies, comic books, you name it. There’s old train maps from the Milwaukee Line, vintage baseball pennants (Tigers, Brooklyn Dodgers, Philadelphia Athletics), movie posters (Marty, Sullivan’s Travels, The Third Man), and even graffiti I wrote to try and remember the vocabulary of the Navy for my first novel (for instance, in giant scrawl is written “This is a HATCH” by a door).

Now and again I head out to the University of Minnesota’s Wilson Library to get out of the place (which at times feels like I’m in my own head), or to Bob’s 33 Cafe just for a change of pace.This is the space where I spend most of my life, a good six to eight hours a day from about seven in the morning to around three in the afternoon. Everything in here connects to the people and places I’m writing about–the books have inspired certain characters, or I’ve grabbed one or two and tried to figure out how another author managed to structure plot, etc. Surrounding myself with the work of these artists is fun, exciting, and very inspirational. It makes me feel like a part of this world, and it informs all my writing.

Thanks, Peter, for showing us your writing space.  Stay tuned for my review of The End of Baseball.

About the Author:

Peter Schilling has been a sportswriter, film critic, and freelance writer for over seven years, in addition to writing novels, graphic novels, plays and screenplays.  Check out his author appearances.

FTC Disclosure: Clicking on title and image links will lead you to my Amazon Affiliate page; No purchase necessary, though appreciated.

© 2010, Serena Agusto-Cox of Savvy Verse & Wit. All Rights Reserved. If you’re reading this on a site other than Savvy Verse & Wit or Serena’s Feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

The Writing Space of Nafisa Haji, Author of The Writing on my Forehead

I recently reviewed Nafisa Haji’s The Writing on my Forehead (click for my review).  Haji was gracious enough to take time out of her busy schedule to share with us a sneak peek into her writing space and writing life.

Please give her a warm welcome.

Cultivating a space for my writing was the first step on the journey to take myself seriously as a writer—something I had to do before anyone else could. 

Buying a desk that would be mine alone, not something I shared with my partner or anyone else, was important.  I remember brushing aside feelings of guilt at the expense.  It was the intention, the promise that I was making to myself, that was the real point of that investment.

Part of being a writer is reaping the fruit of what comes from having been a reader.  When I sit to write at my desk, behind me are shelves lined with the books not aesthetically worthy of display in the living room— the paperback classics and pulp fiction that I devoured as a teenager, the assigned college reading that left a mark, as well as some books I’ve never read but have kept, the ones that survive the purging I indulge in when I’m in procrastination mode, or when the shelves look like they can no longer hold their burden of past indulgences and good intentions for the future. 

The walls in the current incarnation of my space are a copper color—“pennies from heaven” was the name on the paint chip, a lovely fragment of poetry and music that caught my eye and inner ear and made me think of the people whose job it is to give tempting, marketable names to the stuff we brush on our walls as the background of our indoor lives.

Always at hand are baby name books, my favorite a book of multicultural names that is well-worn from handling.  Also, a couple of dictionaries, a thesaurus, several books of quotations, and a stack of nonfiction related to historical events that may have touched the lives of the people currently living in my head.  

There’s a window, but the blinds rarely go up, the slats slanted to let in light, but not enough to see out.  

The point of this room, whose only other use is for my daily meditation, is to go within, to get away from the distraction of the view outside.

My laptop and what I type into it are sacred, never subject to the social viruses that get passed around on the Internet.  I have to leave the room to connect to the web of the wider world, to check email and verify facts.

In the drawers at my side are files of stuff that I keep for no good reason—one, especially treasured, filled with rejection letters, painful to read when received, that I have learned to savor as gifts over time.

This is my space—one I am grateful to have had the time to occupy, glad for what has come out of it in the past, and eager to discover what grows here in the future.  

Thanks, Nafisa, for sharing your sacred space with us.

Writing Spaces and Other Forms of Solitary Confinement by Jamie Ford

If you’ll recall, I recently reviewed Jamie Ford’s Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet (click for my review).  Ford was gracious enough to take time out of his busy schedule to share with us a sneak peek into his writing space and writing life, along with some great shots of his dogs.

You know I love dogs, so this was a real treat to see that his dogs act like Charlee does when I’m on the computer.

I hope you enjoy today’s guest post.  Please welcome Jamie Ford.

I have a lovely home office, with a door and a lock. Which my children still happily ignore, despite telling them that when I’m writing they should only interrupt if the house is on fire or if someone requires stitches. Who knew that rides to the mall, and “I can’t find my iPod headphones,” would rival such emergencies? Nevertheless, this is where I get a lot of work done. 

The Desk. My neighbor is a chiropractor and has been steering me in the direction of something more ergonomic for months, but old habits (and writing desks) are hard to break. And yes, I’m a Mac guy. I bought an iMac, thinking the ginormous screen would be easier on the eyes, but still gravitate to my trusty MacBook Pro. Scattered about my desk are a Jenga-like tower of galleys I’ve promised to read, my new manuscript (tentatively titled Whispers of a Thunder God), my current itinerary, a photo of my parents, and an assortment of iTunes gift cards and desktop statuary made by my kids. The map is of the North Pacific, circa 1943.  

The Shelf. Actually, shelves. My office is filled with assorted knickknacks. Daruma dolls—you color one eye when you make a wish or set a goal and color in the other upon completion. I have two, you can guess what they’re for. I have a small urn with some of my father’s ashes—a morbid little paperweight (thanks dad), a snuff tin, used by my grandmother who actually chewed the stuff, and my gloves from when I used to compete in karate tournaments, with a tarnished silver medal. 

The Floor. My carpet is usually covered with an assortment of barely animate objects—my dogs, which are easily mistaken for throw rugs. There’s a doggie bed in the corner, but they still prefer the floor. They’re great to bounce ideas off of and they always let me know when the UPS man arrives. 

That’s my space in a nutshell. I’ve tried writing at the library, or the local coffee pub, or in the back yard on a sunny afternoon, but I love being surrounded by my notes and maps and such. Plus I don’t have to chase them all over the lawn when the wind blows.

Thanks, Jamie, for taking the time to share with us a sneak peek inside your writing space.

Ru Freeman’s Writing Space

As part of the TLC Book Tour for Ru Freeman’s debut A Disobedient Girl (Click on the link for my review), Savvy Verse & Wit got her to talk about her writing space or should I say spaces.

Without further ado, please welcome Ru to Savvy Verse & Wit.

I should have known better than to say I would write a guest post about my writing space, considering that I write everywhere! I used to believe in the absolute necessity of a “room of ones own” in order to write, until I discovered that the real space that any writer needs is inside ones own head.

No perfect vista, no clear surface, no computer or quill really has the power to draw an idea forth if the writer herself has not cleared room in her mind for the work at hand.

I realized that I wrote everywhere. In my car when I am a passenger and sometimes – shh! – when I was driving; but only at stop lights. I wrote while waiting for one of my daughters to get ballet out of her system. I wrote while the same daughter took her piano lessons. In fact, a few good short stories and the end of this novel was written in those half hour bursts when I had to sit at the Bryn Mawr Conservatory of Music, waiting, waiting.

Some of the time I write without writing at all.

I “write” as I absorb the things that are happening around me, tucking away details that strike me in some corner of my brain, trusting that they will come forth and report for duty when the need arises down the line!

Other times, I jot down a thought on a scrap of paper – the usual bills and sundry lists and paraphernalia that stick to women in particular like we are comprised of a magnetic substance particularly attractive to such things – and stash it in an old cigar box that I picked up for the sweet price of $1.50 at the store down the street.

I confess that there was a time when I insisted upon a separate space for my writing.

The reason for that lay not so much in my need for a place to set up my computer and associated totems, but rather that I needed the other people in the house – primarily daughters – to recognize that I was “working” and that I had a “work space,” which was impregnable and sacred.

This was more a fantasy than a reality; children do not take kindly to existing in the margins and the heart of a mother is far too permeable to allow them to do so anyway! But it did help that there was a specific place I could go to, where I could say, this is my room, my study.

Now, in a much more chaotic household in Philadelphia, where I live the life of a juggler who gives a fairly good imitation of being proficient at the task, I travel to various places with my computer. To the dining table, in my bedroom, to the couch downstairs, and the car. What I take is an image of serenity, the memory of a place that has meant everything to me in terms of affirming my writing life: a screensaver which depicts the Bread Loaf campus. This alone is enough.

Check out a photo gallery of Sri Lanka. Please also check out Ru Freeman’s blog and this Amazon.com video with Ru Freeman.

I also have a guest post over at Ru’s blog. Check out my post on writing and photography.

And of course, my review of A Disobedient Girl.

In honor of this being my 600th Post and Book Blogger Appreciation Week, I’m going to giveaway my gently used copy of A Disobedient Girl to anyone in the world.

1. Leave a comment and tell me what your “private” space looks like where you go to relax and read.

2. Tweet, blog, Facebook, or what have you to spread the word for another entry.

3. Remember, this week only I’m offering 5 additional entries for those who purchase books through my Amazon.com Affiliate links. All you have to do is email me an invoice or order #.

4. Comment on the Review for another entry as well.

5. Leave a comment on my guest post at Ru Freeman’s blog for another entry.

Deadline is Sept. 19, 2009, at 11:59 PM


Your Writing Space…

I was reading the August 2007 Writer’s Digest article, “The Write Space,” about what kinds of spaces writers prefer for their careers and writing projects. The article inspired me before I even finished reading it. I’ve been thinking about what my ideal writing space would look like, if I had a big enough house and enough money to create it. The conclusions I came to were that my space would have to be open, allow breezes from the outdoors to carry floral smells into my room, and the walls would be red.

The door to the room would have to have screens, be cordoned off with sheer curtains, and a doorway that leads to a brick-layered patio. On the patio would be a hammock and fluffy pillow with a silk case and a small bistro table with a couple of iron chairs and red seat cushions (kind of like what I have now on the apt. porch, minus the hammock). My favorite part of the patio is the Koi pond at the far end surrounded by rocks and moss. It would serve as inspiration, along with the waterfall at the back of the pond to ensure the water does not stagnate. You might think the room I am describing is the patio?! That’s probably because that is where I write best–outdoors. I guess I would call the room leading out to the patio my workroom.

The Workroom would contain my dream desk, Pottery Barn’s Bedford Project Table in mahogany with its cubby holes for numerous books and writing notebooks. I also love the little stools, which fit nicely underneath the desk, but the stools in the catalog are not my cup of tea. I prefer stools with cushy seats, much like those you find in upscale pubs, though no beer would be spilt on the ones in my workroom. The desk in the red room would house my laptop, hard drive, printer, and other technological gadgets.

The walls of the red room would not be completely covered, but there would definitely be some of my favorite photos on one wall from top to bottom,


a second wall would have a white board with dry erase markers and a dry erase calendar to help me keep track of ideas and appointments, and the third wall would be just red.

Anyone who knows me, knows I hate carpet, especially wall-to-wall carpet. So the floor would be mahogany stained wood flooring, with a couple of fluffy area rugs to bury my toes in. Not to mention, I might need the cushy rug in front of my long red couch when I hit those roadblocks in my writing. The rugs are expected to be either red or neutral colors. Ah, it’s good to dream.

What would your dream room look like?