Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Writing Room Envy -- Cynthia Lord

For the past month I've been thinking about the coziness of a writing shed. You know, that snug little house built for one -- a hermit hole of creativity -- that lies a few steps away from a writer's actual house. Sounds divine, doesn't it?

Virginia Woolf had one.

So did Roald Dahl.

Can you think of any others?

Though I've only seen it in photos, one of my very favorite writing sheds belongs to Cynthia Lord, author of the Newbery Honor book, Rules, as well as Touch Blue, the Hot Rod Hamster books, and the forthcoming Half a Chance.

Isn't it sweet and inviting?

Here it is on a snowy day.

And here you see the lovely wood-panelled interior.

Cynthia told me the shed has electricity and she uses a space heater in cooler weather -- that way she is able to use it full time for 10 months out of the year. She also said that it was relatively affordable to construct. She purchased it from Hill View Mini Barns in Maine, having designed it herself using one of their customizable templates.

Having it not attached to my house makes a nice difference, both for me and for my family. I'm not "home" in the same way that I'd be in a room of my house. So there's a nice separation that feels like going to work. My family treats it differently, too. It's not as easy to just "ask a quick question" so they wait. Even those little questions can pull you out of work. Plus I can pace the floor or play music or read things out loud without ever wondering if I'm bothering anyone.

Thank you, Cindy, for the details and photos!

Since we don't have children, and my husband has his own office at the law school, I am pretty content with my home office. (Although the cat can be rather clingy, which often leads to limbs going to sleep under his weight.) I do still fantasize about writing sheds, however. What would mine look like?

Ever since I saw the Seurat House at the Dallas Arboretum, part of their 2012 Small Houses of Great Artists exhibit, I've thought it would make a wonderful writing shed. Just put in the doors and glass, give it some insulation and electricity, and I'd be good to go! I'd furnish it with a desk and bookshelf, a comfy chair with ottoman, and a huge bulletin board for story-boarding. Of course, there'd also be a small tea table with kettle, pot, and cups. (Guess I'd need a small fridge for milk, too!)

What would your fantasy writing shed look like? And how would you furnish it?

[Cross-posted at Livejournal]


  1. Like you, Sonia, I've always been pretty content with my dining-room-turned-home-office arrangement. But now that I've seen these amazing spaces, I, too, am filled with writing-room envy. "All I need is a room somewhere...with one enormous chair" and a desk, a computer, a bookcase, pictures of family, and lots of natural light. Wouldn't that be loverly?

    1. Lots of natural light -- that's a good point. A friend on facebook sent a link to Laurie Halse Anderson's post about her writing house (can't really call it a shed). How's that for natural light? :)

  2. My room has a north-facing window and doesn't get nearly enough natural light to make me want to spend any time in it--I always end up at the kitchen table. I love this little house as a writing nook, what an amazing space. Thanks for sharing!

    1. I hear from several people that they write at the kitchen table. Do you get interrupted a lot? Or does everyone understand that it's your writing time?