|Photo by Eamonn McCabe|
Writers' rooms: Sarah Waters
Friday 26 January 2007 17.45 GMT
I spend more or less all day at my desk, so I'm always resolving to lavish loads of money to make it the absolutely perfect work-station. But the truth is, I think all I need in a study is a flat surface, a computer, and a closable door; a large wardrobe would probably do. So my desk is a bit of a mish-mash. The glass-topped table looked sexy in the shop, but is only really interesting when you're underneath, gazing up at the wonderful Rachel Whiteread-style silhouettes of everything that's on it. The phone's a bit nasty, but has a panel showing who's calling, so I can choose when to pick up. The chair is a proper ergonomic one: I don't really like it - it's so big, it feels like an extra person in the room - but it's keeping at bay some awful back problems I developed last year. The hideous spongy wrist supports also help with that. When aspiring writers ask me for advice, I always want to say: "Make sure your desk and chair are set up properly! Don't get RSI!"
The map of the world is to improve my sense of geography; it came in handy at World Cup time, too. The map of London I could pore over for hours, and it was especially useful when I was writing The Night Watch, when I needed to plot my characters' movements through the city during the war. At the moment I'm working on a book set in 1940's Warwickshire, and I've got some old Ordnance Survey maps of the Midlands which I frequently spread out on the floor. Really I'd like a room full of maps, preferably with little pins and movable flags - something like the Cabinet War Rooms.
I'm rather a fretful writer - there's a bottle of Rescue Remedy under the pile of papers on the right - and the "Keep Calm and Carry On" poster is something I focus on in moments of crisis. They're such wise words, and so soothing. I'm thinking of having them done as a tattoo.