I’ve always believed that a writer should be able to write anywhere. If you wait for ideal conditions you’ll never write anything, so from the beginning of my career I disciplined myself to block out my environment and focus on the story. I never go anywhere without a notebook and pen and I’ve scribbled ideas in any number of unlikely places, from the top of a mountain to the back of a horse – proof that even writing can be a life threatening job when done properly.
Last summer we were driving to a summer party held by a dear friend deep in beautiful English countryside, and arrived early. I pointed out that I’d been caffeine free for two hours and that if I were to have any chance of not biting the head off the first person we met, a perfectly brewed cappuccino would be a good way of spending our spare half hour.
By chance we were passing a large garden centre and we pulled in so that I could enjoy a caffeine fix. We never made it to the cafe. Instead, we were sidetracked by a large display of garden offices in all shapes, sizes and colours. And there, perched prettily on a raised deck flirting with me in the sunshine, was a cute garden office that had a sign saying ‘Sarah’s Perfect Office’. Well, not really, but that’s how it felt.
Do you believe in love at first sight? I definitely fell in love with my office from the first moment. I dragged my husband past other hopeful candidates vying for my affections and said ‘this one’. Being of an analytical nature, he insisted on looking at the others, wasting good coffee drinking time as he commented on dimensions, light, potential for elaborate storage solutions and other utterly boring considerations while I tapped my foot, stared longingly at my new office and said ‘That one’. When he asked which qualities were drawing me to that one I replied ‘it’s pretty.’
We started by clearing the bottom of the garden and of course when I say ‘we’, I don't mean me. Digging in mud isn’t my idea of fun, so I suddenly invented an urgent deadline and vanished to stare at pictures of Henry Cavill on my laptop. Once the area was prepared, a concrete foundation was laid. A week later, the office itself arrived. It was in pieces, ready to be assembled on site, an activity that turned out to be both exciting and absorbing. Needless to say I did very little work that day.
My original intention had been to use the office for all my work, including the non-writing aspects of being a writer like accounts and mailings. The moment I saw this beautiful space I knew I wanted to preserve it for the creative part of the job.
So now my pretty office sits in the bottom of my garden, surrounded by birds, bees and butterflies. I like the space and light, so choose not to use it for storage. Instead I have a glass desk that doesn’t intrude on the feeling of space, a small ladder bookshelf that holds a small selection of my favourite books, a comfortable beanbag that gives me somewhere to sit when I want to read, and my computer.
The only thing missing is a coffee machine. That’s next on my list.
Suddenly Last Summer by Sarah Morgan is out now.