Thursday, March 07, 2013

Writer’s Workspace: Kathleen O’Brien

Today The Pink Heart Society is thrilled to have Harlequin SuperRomance author Kathleen O'Brien share her work space with us.

I’ve always felt super lucky to have a home office.  When I’m writing, I’m not good at filtering out distractions from the external world.  I’ll never be one of those elegantly relaxed authors who can camp out at Starbucks, aromatic brew in hand, people-watching for inspiration whenever they get stuck.  I’d be lucky to generate ten words in an hour.

For me, “a room of one’s own” is both luxury and necessity, and I am grateful for mine.  Tucked away at the back of the house, it’s a lovely little space.  Here, I don’t have to make concessions to all those wires and brown things that the men in my family seem to use for decoration.  Here, I have a white desk, white armchairs, white bookcases, and periwinkle blue walls. 

I love being back here, which is a good thing, because I hardly ever get to leave! J
I start early every day, with high hopes, but my natural bio-rhythms make me a creative crackerjack only at about three in the morning, when the rest of the family is sound asleep.   Sometimes our cat, Cleo, will stick with me.  She splays herself out on the warm computer, which I choose to believe is her version of moral support.

The little room is usually a mess.  But I begin each book with an earnest, hopeful vow.  This time I won’t let things get out of control!  I’ll make a file folder.  Yes, a place for everything, and everything in its place! 

That lasts until about…maybe chapter five.   By then, I’ve given up and reconciled with my inner Pigpen.  My desk is littered with research notes about Colorado wildflowers, murderers, and wedding photography—each page nearly illegible and heavily doodled.  The monitor, printer, drawer fronts, and all surfaces are covered in pictures of characters, houses, horses, food, furniture, and quotes that inspire.  (Favorite:  “A clean desk is a sign of a sick mind.”)

Now and then, though, I do get a change of scenery.  When my weekly critique group arrives, we set up in the dining room, where we use the table to spread out our storyboards and laptops and, most importantly, our favorite hot teas, flavored coffees and guilty snacks.  Sometimes, even after the others go home, I stay at the table, pounding out a few pages before I forget all the brilliant ideas we came up with.  (See picture above re: what happens when I try to transcribe my notes at some later date! J )

And then, on a few very, very lucky days, when the words are really flowing, I can take the laptop outside and write in the backyard.  This rarely happens before about chapter ten, when the story is finally chugging along under its own steam.  If I try to write outside before that, I’m so easily distracted that even a noisy squirrel can break the flow.

Add a pair of cardinals, a romping puppy and some weeds just begging to be pulled, and I have to accept the truth.  Writing is a great job, but it’s a job.  And, for me, the best office is the little blue room tucked away at the back of the house.

To learn more about Kathleen and her books, please visit her website  .

1 comment:

  1. I bet Cleo is a wonderful assistant. I love your creative doodles.