Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Writers' Rooms

The Guardian newspaper has an ongoing series called Writers' Rooms. This reveals where many famous authors sit and create their masterpieces. It also seems to reveal them all as being incredibly wealthy, owning at least two heirlooms (owning just one is so passé) and being able to namedrop a famous designer who created their shelves/chair/desk/lamp/ancient parchment notebook on wish to compose.

This is my take on the series - written in the style of The Guardian. In fact - please read this first, and then come back...

Writers' Rooms: Jayne Ferst-Second

It’s the back of the house, and only seventeen years ago stars shone through the gap between the ill-fitting curtains while the floor was ankle-deep in computer magazines left behind by my older brother. I love the sound of sirens and view of the motorway in the distance. Who says London is overcrowded? True, the room is often noisy but silence addles my brains.

I’ve got cat hairs round the little window, and type by hand at the chest of drawers awkwardly positioned in front of it. The corkboard was made by Argos.

The bookends are stacks of historical books to bring me good luck, because my debut novel covers a span of decades. On the window ledge stands a strange plastic pot with plastic flowers my mother brought back from a car-boot sale.

On top of the shelf containing my essential reference books is a 1960s dolls house and a lustrous feather duster – both from my Nan’s in Stoke Newington. And there’s an unholy mix underneath: a Matchbox scooter, a Camden-era candle and a cobalt pot thrown by me in anger the last time I was looking for something.

I bought my shelf unit when I was 19 with my pay cheque from Woolworths, and that’s where I store crap. The shelves don’t really fit, but I jam everything into it. There’s a photograph of me when I was grumpy and small on the shelf, and in the corner a 21st-century embossed double-whammy candle. Books, coasters, paintbrushes, mugs…everything in the bedroom either relates directly to my mum or is rich in personal association. Everything is here by accident.

The half of the room out of shot has wooden wardrobes, their slats all covered in dust, a Hackney ottoman and a dresser piled with perfume and projects. There’s also a primitive painting of flowers by the Swedish shop Ikea.

Each of the walls are the same colour, but what you can’t see is the hidden blue tack stains from teenage posters – pictures of childhood. So the walls are as merry as a bog-standard bedroom, dressed in the colours of suburbia.


Click here for more on Writers' Rooms


musicobsessive said...

Hahaha! I loved this. Mind you, having looked at the Guardian bit I am tempted to say, 'pretentious, moi?' Good lord, do they really believe in all that drivel. Most of my book was written in a small stuffy room staring at a plasticy Welsh Dragon Snow-shaker (with no snow) and something indefinable that my daughter made at nursery.

Jayne said...

I must admit not all the features in the series are this pretentious - but the one I am mocking here was just laughable - it was too easy to parody.

I'd love to see a series that 'kept it real' and showed us the beginnings - the room everyone started their path from, complete with broken snow-shaker, side by side with the room they end up in. But I guess this series is here to create aspiration - and it works, as I would love a desk, a chair, a room with a view and somewhere messily wonderful with books. But we all have to start somewhere... it is much easier as a novice to relate to humble beginnings as opposed to perfect endings.

Shaylen Maxwell said...

OMG! This is great. I'm going to check out the rest! : )

Aspiring Writer said...

This is a funny post, Jane. Yes, some of them are pretentious and some are inspirational. And yes, we all have to start somewhere. :)

Jayne said...

Hi Shaylen! It is a fascinating series - well worth clicking through.

Jayne said...

Hi Joanne! Glad you liked it - could you tell I was enjoying myself?!