Once upon a time, my writing spaces were glorious. When I wrote my third novel I sat on a chaise overlooking my expansive green grass backyard and a seasonally decorated patio. When I edited that novel, I sat at a designated desk in my son’s-bedroom-turned-office and looked out at my front yard bursting with flowers, budding bushes, and a pear tree (the kind without actual pears). When I wrote my first and second books I sat in the living room in an upholstered arm chair at an oak desk facing a stone fireplace and a wall of windows. I often allowed my gaze to wander and what I saw when I wrote was very important.

Note: was.

I moved from this house in the Chicago suburbs with all the windows and green space and stone fireplaces (there were two of them, sigh) to a semi-urban basement apartment just big enough for me and my dog. I have one window in each room. Two of the windows are inside window wells. One window is level with my driveway. I have no fireplace, no backyard, no view. That being said, I love it here. It’s both cozy and cool. Needless to say, my perspective as well as my view has changed.

My living room now doubles as my writing space. (It also doubles as my breakfast nook and dining room since I usually eat on the sofa.) I have art around me that I love, which inspires me and creates a view without windows.

Since my space is small, it also tends to be a little, well, messy. I’m not tidy by nature so this should surprise no one (although when my children went to college I did have the revelation that I was the messy one). So, while I start my day in a pristine manner, it ends up like this (I moved the bra out of range of the shot—you’re welcome–although those are yesterday’s clothes, in case, you know, I wanted to wear them again today.)

You might notice two coffee cups, nail polish remover, notebooks, and research materials around me like friends who’d stopped by announced and intruded on an otherwise orderly existence but whom I’m happy to see and don’t ask to leave. (Oh and there’s the jumbo dog bed, let’s not forget it’s almost as big as my sofa.)

You will also see each pair of shoes I slipped on through the day to walk the dog (oh, and a cracker, well lookie there!) under the coffee table/footrest.

At first, I didn’t think I could write well here. I felt as if my creativity was bouncing off the walls like a pinball, instead of soaring up to vaulted ceilings and out into the big suburban sky.

But I didn’t have a choice. So, I made it work. I forgot about the confines of my surrounding, closed my eyes, and felt my new story flow around me.

Then, I put my feet up on the sofa, poured one more cup of coffee into a new mug (of course), and started. Again.