Monday, October 15, 2012

A Garage of My Very Own

Recently a particularly Californian writing dream came true. No, I didn't score a movie deal. No, I wasn't unexpectedly staffed on a TV show.

But I did get my own writing garage.

For whatever reason, there seems to be a lack of home offices for writers in California. In other places, like my hometown of St. Louis, you'll find extra bedrooms being used as offices. And an architect friend of mine in Pittsburgh works out of his finished basement.

But real estate being what it is in California, many writers, especially mom-writers like myself, don't have the benefit of dedicated writing spaces. Our guest bedrooms become nurseries, and most SoCal homes don't have basements.

As a consequence, L.A. coffeeshops are filled with scribes. Often when showing homes, real estate agents proudly open the door of a huge walk-in closets that "could easily be converted into an office." No lie, when I see Harry Potter's cramped living quarters in the Muggle world onscreen, I think to myself, "Well, that would make a fine office, wouldn't it?"

But even before moving here, I'd dreamed of having my very own writing garage. One of my mentors at Carnegie Mellon, a screenwriter freshly moved back to his hometown of Pittsburgh from L.A., told me tales about writing in the office above his garage. And two years ago, a television writer friend converted her garage to an office space, after finding out the extra bedroom would soon be occupied by a newborn. I was so jealous.

In my mind, nothing says real writer, like writing in a space originally designed to shelter your cars.

I've had many writing spaces since moving to California. When I first got here, I wrote on a laptop in bed. Then I moved in with a boyfriend and wrote on a laptop in his bed. Then we broke up and I found a free mattress, on which I wrote my first California plays. Eventually I met my husband, who had one of those closet offices, and that's where I wrote most of 32 CANDLES.

Then we moved to a new house right before our daughter came, one of the few in California that actually had a basement. When it wasn't flooded, I ignored the dank, dark, and cold nature of it to write in it for a few months ... before I ended up writing in bed.

Then we moved to a small townhouse in the heart of Pasadena. Great location, no space. I ended up writing at a little IKEA desk in the corner of our bedroom.

We searched for a place to finally just settle for over three years and eventually we found a short sale, fixer upper that was located in a good school district, within our budget, and perfect for my husband, who loves to fix things up. The only thing was all the bedrooms would be occupied, there were no walk-in closets, and the master bedroom wasn't large enough to also fit my desk.

So imagine my glee, when my husband opened the door to a large garage and said, "I was thinking we could convert this into an office for you."

As it turned out, the former owner, a motorcycle enthusiast, had already tricked out the garage to look like -- well, a motorcycle shop. Slap on some yellow paint, put in a desk, have the HVAC guys put in a vent, ignored the black and white checkered floor, and voila, I got a writing garage of my very own. Now all we have to do is put in insulation, so I don't freeze during the winter months.

Till then, I'm writing -- you guessed it -- on my laptop in bed (see pic above). Thank goodness for the IKEA Brada Laptop table and my other husband.

But where do you write, Girlfriends? Is it the space you've always dreamed of or would you improve upon if you could? Let me know in the comments.

16 comments:

  1. Your other husband looks very comfy. I have an office, but I grow so tired of sitting on my butt, I sometimes just wander from place to place carrying my laptop.

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    1. So jealous that you can walk and write. I can't multi-task at all. Even listening to music is too much of a distraction these days. You'd think motherhood would have made me better, but as it turns out, it just taught me that I shouldn't even attempt to try it.

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  2. That is so cool! I'm excited for you to have your own space.

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  3. Wonderful idea. My husband has his man-cave in the boat barn, but I work in our bed-sitting room. 's okay. The view is gorgeous.

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    1. I find the view is the most important thing. I've gotten some of my best writing done in Hawaii while overlooking the ocean. I'm convinced I'd be a bestseller if I lived there!

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  4. Excited for you! Now you can trick your office out any way you like. I loved 32 Candles and I can't wait to see what you come up with next.

    I've been lucky. I've had a designated office space for many years. I should have a stack of novels sitting around by now.

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    1. Hahaha! I taught a workshop called the writing mother, in which everyone had to figure out where they would be writing when they returned home. One father -- smart guy figured he could use the advice, too -- figured out with the help of the group that he actually needed to write outside his office, b/c he associated that place with work-work as opposed to writing work.

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  5. I love the sound of your "room of your own!" Enjoy!

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  6. I like your other husband. Must order one! I write in a spare bedroom. It's airy and spacious and painted a cheery shade of green. I have a bookshelf stuffed with craft books and a couch to snooze or meditate on. I feel very grateful and look forward to writing there every day.

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    1. That sounds wonderful! Like the perfect space.

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  7. At first, I wrote at a desk in our bedroom while my husband used the small room off our bedroom for his office. Turns out my workspace was too messy to be out in the open (what stacks of paper and books?) and he traded places with me.

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    1. Technically, my closet office was supposed to be my then-boyfriend's extra work space, but I eventually took it over, and at one point, asked him not to move anything when he was in there. Yes, I'm still surprised he asked me to marry him. Right now, he's nice enough not to complain about coming home to a "desk bed," but I'm sure he'll be happy when I once again have a dedicated writing space.

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  8. Ernessa, I have a sweet room of my own that is sometimes a guest bedroom. Has a murphy bed that closes up into the wall. It's great but I'm still distracted by the sounds of my family and sometimes yearn for an outdoor shed with air conditioning, no bugs, a bathroom and coffee maker..and most important of all...a view...

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    1. I have a white noise track for when the noise gets to be too much. It's especially hard when you're trying to write any kind of love scene.

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