By Susan Haught
Have you ever watched a child blow bubbles with a little wand and a bottle of soapy water? Perhaps you’ve taken a turn yourself. If you have, you’ll know there’s something magical about bubbles.
When my son was little, we’d spend Easter with friends, and every year the Easter bunny would leave a bottle of soap bubbles in the kids’ baskets. A dozen or more children would dance around in the warm spring sun and blow wand after wand of bubbles. The air would be filled with giggling kids, barking dogs, and the occasional bout of tears. Bubbles are mesmerizing, and I’d soon find my imagination drifting away and the world around me would disappear. Until someone popped my imaginary bubble.
As writers, I think we all create some sort of “bubble” where our fictional characters live, talk, play, and generally wreak havoc on our sanity, but it’s also a place where we turn off the world around us. Tune out the other humans who share our space. Escape life’s distractions. Retreat into our fictional world. Inside our bubble—however you choose to define it—is the place where the magic happens. And it’s proven once our train of thought is interrupted, it takes several minutes to reconnect, to recreate our imaginary world.
I was lucky. We have a den in our home, hubby was still teaching, and our son was away at college. Hours of quiet. Hours of happy writing. No one to pop my bubble when I sat down to write.
And then hubby decided to retire.
His naturally loud fifth-grade teacher voice was perfect for ten-year-olds, but his inside voice failed to make it home with his last paycheck. Reminding him I needed quiet didn’t work. He took up the grocery shopping chore to help out but called an average of three times for a six-item list. And somewhere between “I’m not signing my contract this year” and “Today’s my first day of retirement”, he forgot how to read the sign on the outside of the den that said Do Not Disturb. The day he tiptoed into the den and said, “Shhh…I don’t want to disturb you…” and proceeded to use the shredder was the day I was done playing nice.
Having a space to write is essential, but it doesn’t have to mean robbing a bank to add a room to your house. It can be as simple as the corner of the sofa at a designated time with a set of headphones and your favorite music. Some pack up their laptops and head to a coffee shop. One author I know cleaned out a closet and made it her writing “cave”. Another told her family if she was in bed with her laptop, she was unavailable-period. And still another fixed up a place in her basement. Reminded me of The Book Thief meets Bates Motel, but it worked—her kids refused to go down there.
Defining your needs is the first step to claiming your own writing space.
Then, decide on a budget and what it will take to make it happen—it can be as inexpensive as a thrift store desk and painting it your favorite color, or as elaborate as turning an extra bedroom into the ultimate escape. Or hey, that treehouse I saw on Pinterest might catch your eye.
When you’re finally able to sit down in your space, it’s a good idea to turn off distractions (who doesn’t get lost on Pinterest or FB?) so you can retreat into your “bubble”. A soap bubble is fragile. Once the pearlescent surface is touched, POOF! it’s gone. And so is your concentration. And in order to stay there, it’s essential you aren’t disturbed. It may take some time, but your favorite humans will get the hint.
Unless you’re married to my human. You remember, the guy with a master’s degree in education who suddenly forgot how to read?
Six months into his retirement I had written very little. Deadlines weren’t met. I was cranky and angry at him for invading my precious time day in and day out. He whooped for the Diamondbacks. Watched rodeo and discussed it loudly with the dog. Whistled. Ran the vacuum. He didn’t get it. He didn’t understand the “bubble” concept. Something had to give.
We brainstormed, even thought about finishing the attic. Adding a room (eeek!) was out of the question. I came up with a solution that fit our budget and my needs, and two months later, I vacated the den. Now my writing space is an 8’ x 12’ She-Shed in the backyard. It’s a Tuff Shed he and our neighbor finished inside, and I decorated in a beach theme. It has heat and AC, a coffee and wine bar, bookshelves galore, and a spacious desk. The best part? He knows I’m not to be disturbed unless the house is on fire or he’s bleeding from an artery. My bubble stays blissfully intact.
When I came up with the idea, it didn’t take a whole lot of convincing that this was the ideal solution. Hubby decided my 96 square foot sanctuary at a cost of $8,000 was cheaper than a divorce.
What’s your idea of the perfect writing space?
Susan Haught writes emotionally powerful stories of family, friendship, and the healing power of love, with characters in their 30’s, 40’s and beyond. A multi award-winning novelist, Australian black liquorice connoisseur, and hopeless coffee & wine addict, Susan believes Love is Ageless and has the power to change lives--one step, one touch, one kiss at a time.
Susan is the author of the Award-winning Whisper of the Pines series—A Promise of Fireflies, In the Shadow of Fate, A Thousand Butterfly Wishes, The Other Side of Broken, and Outside the Lines.
When Susan isn’t writing, you’ll find her burying the evidence of a notorious brown thumb, teaching her hubby the difference between red leaf and romaine lettuce, or curled up with someone else’s words.
Won’t you join Susan for coffee?