For an author, their desk is where the magic happens. Today we have Robert Barclay, author of The Diary of Katy Yehonala with us to share what’s on his desk:
What’s on your desk?
My three wise guides to life. I am glad I write fiction so I can ignore their clichéed posturing and inscrutable morality. However, they remind me every day that words alone don’t tell stories. How words sound, what pictures they conjure and how a reader should hear them matter and how every sense needs to be brought into the magic we call the English language.
Other stuff? The spirit of more famed writers, scattered mind maps, a coffee cup, a wine glass if the hour is late, like past sunrise.
What shouldn’t be on your desk?
The arrow cursor. It sits on the computer screen pointing to a white space like a finger of derision, cold and emotionless, demanding a letter of the alphabet, perhaps even a word. Or, God forbid, a whole sentence. Meanwhile, I try to ignore its accusatory: “Well, Robert!!”
The computer may have saved us writers the tedium of scribbled-out errors and tangled typebars on the Olympia’s ribbon, but its cursor, well named in my view, has demanded a high price for its servitude. Everything else on the desk is the product of a cluttered mind, but essential to life.
Why does this area motivate you?
Actually, it doesn’t. My desk is a place where motivation becomes exhausted after finding itself revealed in obscure, other places. From a dream demanding to be written down before sleep reclaims the memory, to the cascading shower water washing old thoughts away and revealing new ones.
And especially motivation found after joyful escape in a romantic nocturne or a soaring Rachmaninoff concerto – listening mainly. The desk is a place where motivation and inspiration are captured forever in words. For me, it is not a place to sit resolutely waiting for ideas of literary genius to flow through my fingers. Those are almost always found everywhere else, whether of genius or not.
Are there any items of particular significance?
Everything here is significant in one way or another. A pen and paper are indispensable to capture fleeting thoughts before they vanish or to draw linkages in the story that occurs to me. My piano is essential to have nearby. I am teaching myself classical piano; writing and music are two languages I dream of mastering.
I like having admired writers nearby to remind me of the essence of writing – Agatha Christie for understanding dialogue, Jane Austen for appreciating whimsy, and Gao Xingjian for storytelling on a grand scale.
How often do you spend in this workspace each day?
I’m a morning person and can happily get out of bed at 3.00 am if the night creatures give me an idea which they take away if I go back to sleep.
I don’t have an hourly regimen or word count and write until I stop. Sometimes ten hours, sometimes ten minutes each day. I live in this workspace, in my head, almost permanently.
Thank you Robert Barclay for sharing your workspace with us!
I am a mother of four beautiful children. I can’t leave a book unfinished which equals a lot of late nights! When I’m not reading you can find me in the garden, or helping out at Beauty and Lace.