Writers' Rooms: Charlotte Gill

Charlotte Gill

(c) Charlotte Gill

I adore working in cubby-like environments, preferably with just enough room for a desk to squeak in between the walls. I think it’s a security thing, the way dogs like to hang out under coffee tables. My room has a big window, but it’s totally unnecessary. My dream office would be one those bunker-style rooms built into new condos. The closets between the front door and the boiler where the washing machines go—“flex spaces,” I believe they’re called. One of those would be divine.

I like to keep things around that remind me of real life. Above my desk is a wall hanging from Gujurat, India. Nearby, a flyer from a Bloomsday reading I attended in Sydney, Australia many years ago. Some cedar carvings from Alert Bay, B.C. In the background is a painting lettered with the quote: “It is possible to be too concerned about oneself.” That was written by English psychoanalyst Adam Phillips whose On Kissing, Tickling and Being Bored is one of my favorites books. In the corner I keep a very politically incorrect Golliwog doll, given to me by my sister.

Draped over the back of my chair is a wool pashmina acquired in Mumbai. I’m usually wrapped in it, since I’m cold when I write, even in the middle of summer. My husband tells me it’s because of my frozen, hunchback posture. He’ll come in and say, “You know you been sitting like that for four hours.”

I must also admit that my workspace is never this tidy. Usually my desk is so strewn with books and magazines, accretions of dishware and junk mail, it overflows onto the floor like some kind of terrible glacial wave of paper detritus and procrastination. It trails out near the door in punch-hole confetti. I guess I must love it that way. It’s permission to be sloppy and free.

Charlotte Gill was born in London, England and raised in the United States and Canada. Her work has appeared in many Canadian magazines, Best Canadian Stories, The Journey Prize Stories, and has been broadcast on CBC Radio. Her first book, Ladykiller (Thomas Allen), was nominated for a Governor General's Literary Award and won the Danuta Gleed Award and the B.C. Book Prize for fiction. She is the 2008 Markin-Flanagan Writer-In-Residence at the University of Calgary.