Author Blog

Writer’s Desk – Why mine doesn’t always exist.

photo credit: @our.sweet.retreat

If you have a hobby of any kind, it is common to have a “space” for your craft. If you love wood working or giving new life to antique furniture through DYI refurbishment, you probably find yourself in the garage or outdoors. If you are a painter, you likely have a place for your paints, brushes, canvas, etc. For writers, it has become a trend to take a photo of our desk and post that on social media. I LOVE looking at these photos. The creative spaces are gorgeous eye candy! I don’t have such a space.

I’ve dreamed of having that – The writer’s desk. I’ve gotten things pretty well laid out a time or two (proof below):

If I could have my ideal space, I’d have a fairly simple desk in front of a window overlooking a pretty corner of nature. This way I could glance up every now and then from my writing and refocus myself. On my desk, mementoes would sit, tastefully displayed, that remind me of a loved one or perhaps spark my creative genius. The delicious aroma of coffee would permeate the air from the attractive mug sojourning nearby. While I would keep an elegant notebook at hand and a small army of freshly sharpened pencils, the majority of my writing would be done on a laptop.

In reality, however, I write where I can. I’m a mom, I work at a school full time, and … I’m tired. These days, my writing regimen tends to include: couch, pajamas, and my favorite beverage of the moment.

To my surprise, the first few pages of an old sewing machine instruction booklet started, not with how to operate the machine, but instead instructed the user that her appearance and house be immaculate before she even starts sewing. Can you imagine? Before you thread that needle, ladies, don’t forget your heels!

To a certain extent, I agree that a clean house or a tidy space helps you feel composed and at peace before launching on a project. There is also something to be said for having your basic duties met before allowing yourself the pleasure of sitting down to your hobby. But, in full honesty, I’d never get to write if it meant I first needed to have a perfect house and immaculate appearance.

I think, in order to be our best selves, we must find moments to fit in our hobbies. This may or may not include the perfect work space. That is something you can set as a future goal, but it isn’t integral to being creative. Maybe your hobby area doesn’t look like curated selections from a Pinterest wall or the Instagram page of that social media influencer you follow. Don’t let that keep you from honing your talents! Studies show that when we make time for our artistic outlets, our mental health improves. When I feel good, I tend to handle life’s challenges with more grace than otherwise. If I get to spend five minutes writing, I grumble less about that laundry basket full of clean clothes I need to fold. You can look at taking time to be creative as an investment in your health – like the sugar which makes the bitter medicine of life’s responsibilities go down easier.

Find your comfort zone, be grateful for the opportunity, and lean in to your hobby.

Author Blog

Traits of Friendship

In the classic novel, Anne of Green Gables, Anne Shirley defines the ideal friendship for which her young heart has yearned. She desires, “A bosom friend—an intimate friend, you know—a really kindred spirit to whom I can confide my inmost soul. I’ve dreamed of meeting her all my life.”

Friendship, and I’m talking about true friendship, is rare. Have you ever had someone who you could call day or night and they would pick up, listen to you ugly cry, and before you’ve finished emptying your heart they’ve shown up at your door? That kind of friendship bolsters us up and carries us through this difficult journey on earth making the trials easier and the joys worth sharing. To me, there is another, quieter sign of intimate friendship which communicates an even deeper soul connection.

In my novel Madame Beekeeper, the main character, Rachel Buckner finds herself in her early sixties without true friendships. She kept everyone at arm’s length for so long that one day she wakes up to the stark reality that, though respected by many, she has no one to, as Anne Shirley put it confide her inmost soul. As the story unfolds, Rachel begins letting people into her heart – or is she finally letting herself be welcomed into theirs? It’s hard for her to tell. Rachel learns relationships can mean being vulnerable and that it is just when we are weakest that we find out who our real friends are.

After a horrific accident involving someone dear to Rachel, she finds herself alone with LouEllen, her neighbor and former coworker. The evolution of their friendship culminates on the quiet drive home from the hospital and this moment has become one of my favorites in the book:

Neither Rachel nor LouEllen spoke. Both were too drained from the day’s events. One sign of true friendship is that you do not feel obliged to fill the void of silence with idle chatter. Sometimes friendship can be best felt in the comfortable intermission between words.

I have been blessed with friends who are kindred spirits. Bosom friends who have cried with me and laughed until we cried – laughed so hard we couldn’t even get another word out and we’re barely able to breathe. Better still, these friends, in the moments when life has paused and the rush lapsed into silence, have sat – just sat – with me, both of us comfortable, not feeling the urge to break the silence.

This criterion for a sign of true friendship might seem odd to some. Comfort in silence as a trait of friendship? Take a moment and think about it though. Who can you sit with, unabashedly yourselves, and neither of you feels compelled to say something? You are just happy in each other’s company? To me, that is the ultimate assurance that a friendship has fully blossomed.

What is your defining trait for friendship? I’d love for you to share in the comments.