My office is an anomaly in our house. It’s more cluttered, more feminine, more sentimental than any other room. I spend long, unbroken hours here, staring out the two big windows. There is a park across the street, which makes for a nice distraction on days when the muse doesn’t touch down and I am not feeling inspired. On those days, I see small birds in the hydrangea bushes in our front garden, children across the street riding yellow bicycles.
My actual desk is made up of various elements, including my parents’ old front door (painted creamy-white) and a slab of glass as the desktop. It’s large, sparkly and impervious to spills (tea, water, wine, ink, depending on the day). I have an affection for doors, and I try to surround myself with things that inspire or comfort me. Other things that appear here, in this same vein: a geranium that I have (somehow) managed to keep alive for two years, straight through the winter, a photo of Arbroath Abbey and another of Advocate’s Close in Edinburgh, places I’ve visited and written about. Alongside these are notecards to remind me of all things important: words, friendship, laughter. There is also a small statue of a girl curled up that I found in Greece; some people think she seems sad. To me, she is contemplative.
The other side of the desk houses a large clock decorated with palm trees that has never kept time, a green pottery fish plate that I use for paper clips and a blue bowl used for larger clamps. There are also photos, one of a Grotto of the Virgin in Venice, and two of my grandmother who passed away a few years ago. In one, she wears a glamorous black party dress and in the other she’s kneeling down, smiling up at the camera. They remind me of her and, somehow, myself and the stories I want to tell.
What you can’t see? Bulging bookcases, a found lamp of Grecian women, a green velvet slipperchair, and a corkboard of thoughts and possibilities. And my chair. It is white, padded and comfortable enough to allow me all the long hours to find those stories.
Andrea MacPherson is a poet and novelist. She has written four books: two novels, When She Was Electric (Raincoast, 2003) and Beyond the Blue (Random House, 2007) and two poetry collections, Natural Disasters (Palimpsest, 2007) and Away (Signature Editions, 2008). When She Was Electric was listed No. 6 on CBC Canada Reads: People’s Choice. Andrea holds an MFA from the Creative Writing Department at the University of British Columbia, where she was Editor of Prism International. She is the Reviews Editor for Event Magazine, and teaches Creative Writing with University of the Fraser Valley and Douglas College.