I always wanted a room of my own to write in, but I work on a computer in the family room—right next to the bathroom, which is next to the kitchen—which leads children to ask me to get them snacks when they are perfectly capable of getting themselves—which leads to arguments about children being lazy and mothers being obsessed with the computer, and I’m privy to more bathroom noise than I’d like to be.
1) Feng Shui drop out: OK, I don’t know a lot about Feng Shui, but I read an article a few years ago and I think my work space isn’t up to code. My back is to the door and the TV, but it is convenient for watching Top Model when I should be working, but listening to Sponge Bob is a definite mood killer.
2) Cockroaches—yes, really: To my left is a bookshelf—one shelf devoted to my DK Eyewitness books, a variety of insect guides, and my hissing cockroaches. I got them when I was teaching in New Hampshire. I invited an entomologist to visit my class and he left me several large, brown hissing buggers. It’s been thirteen years since I’ve been in a classroom and my husband asks me about once a month why we still have them. He doesn’t seem to get the cool factor hissing cockroaches have. (I haven’t told him about the time they had babies—and the babies crawled out and I didn’t know until I was working and one little bugger crawled over the top of my computer screen—their cage now has window screening on top to prevent future escapes.)
3) Predator and Prey: To the right is my fish tank—lots of algae and rocks and three itsy-bitsy goldfish that were marked as crayfish chow but somehow survived to grow five inches and swim in unison. Our new crayfish, Raphael, has snatched all of the new feeders we bought him, and I often take writing breaks to check out the pecking order in the tank. These goldfish are tough! Last time I bought feeder fish, one of the goldfish ate three of them!
4) Mess and disarray: Another Feng Shui no-no—clutter. I have a lot of clutter around my desk. Online things I’ve printed out because they might be used in future stories. Reviews, emails, critiqued pages I need to address—piles surround me.
5) My Window: I face a lovely window looking out on my deck. I get to see birds and squirrels parade in front of me. I have a picture of my Revealers cover hanging up, a postcard of a model of a giant squid that hangs from the ceiling of the nearby Peabody Museum in New Haven, and a cut-out of the Wicked Witch of the West about to melt tucked into the corner of the window. A mermaid statue sits opposite the witch, and I guess I’m reminded of the fun and fantastic that I like to write about.