Writers' Rooms: Spider Robinson

Spider Robinson

(c) Jeanne Robinson

I love my office.

My Jeanne, who took this photo, found it for me. It was one of the deciding factors in our home purchase: a former pottery studio, about 15’ X 7’, which lies only eight steps across the sundeck from the house. Three large windows let in lots of light, and air in summer, and every other square inch of the walls is covered with ceiling-high bookshelves full of paperbacks, trade paperbacks, CDs and DVDs. (The hardcovers are in the house. Everywhere in the house.)

It’s snug and dry even in British Columbia deluges, cheaply heated in our mild winters. It’s acoustically “flat” enough to make an ideal home recording studio for my free weekly podcast, “Spider On The Web." My computer setup is the best I’ve ever had, with surround sound and both colour and b&w printers.

But I’d love that office if it leaked like a birdcage and contained only a manual typewriter.

It’s my sanctuary, my eyrie—the first I’ve had since I started writing in 1972. Before we moved here a decade ago, my “office” was generally either a desk in a corner of the bedroom, or the dining room. Now I can enter my Fortress of Solitude, and close the door, and nobody else can come in unless I let them. Because I write from midnight until well past dawn, and must hear music while I do, I spent twenty years with flattened ears from wearing acoustic-seal headphones. Now I can blast Mingus’s Epitaph or Mahler’s 1st Symphony at 3 AM without waking Jeanne or the cat.

And now when I look up from my keyboard, instead of dressers or a china closet I’m surrounded by framed photos of all my loved ones, present and absent, by the works of most of my favorite authors and musicians, and by some of the awards I’ve been given for my work. I can gaze out the window at 100-foot-tall trees, blackberry bushes and a stand of bamboo—and I grew up in an apartment in the Bronx.

Some of my very best writing has been done in that office. And even those hours spent staring at a blank screen until beads of blood form on my forehead are easier to take, there.

Thank you, Jeanne.

Since he began writing professionally in 1972, Spider Robinson has won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, three Hugo Awards, a Nebula Award, and countless other international and regional awards. Most of his 36 books are still in print, in 10 languages. His short work has appeared in magazines around the planet, from Omni and Analog to Xhurnal Izobretatel i Rationalizator (Moscow), and in numerous anthologies. The Usenet newsgroup alt.callahans and its many internet offshoots, inspired by his Callahan’s Place series, for many years constituted one of the largest non-porn networks in cyberspace.

For more about Spider, visit his website.