Suspend Your Disbelief

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Less is More

Earlier this year, the New York Times profiled the writing space of novelist Roxana Robinson. Robinson lives on the Upper East Side near Park Avenue and has

a study that would seem the ideal lair for a novelist. This room […] combines all the necessities of 21st-century life — computer, printer, fax machine — with immense personality, thanks to dozens of works of art and memorabilia that paint an indelible portrait of Ms. Robinson and the richly textured world she inhabits.

Instead, however, she chooses to write “in an 8-by-10 space that faces a tan brick wall and was formerly a maid’s room. In décor and design, it is as spare as a monk’s cell.”

Over at the Fictionaut blog, writer Jim Ruland describes doing the opposite: taking a tiny, uninviting space and transforming it into a lush (if tiny) writer’s retreat.

When all was said and done, the only space left for me to write was the coat closet in the living room: 10 feet wide, 2 feet deep and accessed by a pair of hideous sliding mirrored doors. Nuvia had rigged a crappy wire shelving unit and that’s where she kept her laptop. Whenever she needed to send an email she’d slide open the closet door and pull up a chair. This arrangement pretty much sucked, but I figured if James Joyce could write sections of Ulysses in a crowded one-room apartment he shared with his partner and two small children using his suitcase as a desk, I could learn to work in a closet. And I did.

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