Where the Magic Doesn’t Happen


My husband and I have been in our new house now for just over three months. And though the boxes have been unpacked, and the items inside (mostly) put away, things are not… quite… there yet.

Almost every room needs to be repainted (and, at the moment, the walls sport splotchy blobs of spackle). We need to de-texturize the ceilings in the living room, dining room, and family room. We need up rip up carpet and get the floors beneath sanded and re-finished. We need to replace the front door (which sits askew in its frame, lets in ALL the winter air, and pops open on its own when it’s not locked) and, in fact, need to eventually replace all the doors in the house. We need to get a hot water heater and extend the gas line, because 95 percent of our showers since we’ve moved in have been lukewarm to ice cold. And the list goes on.

In contrast, my new home office is fucking awesome. My dad helped me re-paint the walls a soothing gray. I singlehandedly ripped up the carpet, and then hired someone to sand and re-finish the floors the very next day. I bought a gorgeous, new desk, a matching filing cabinet, and a bookcase I lovingly caress at least once a day. I brought in my mother’s old typewriter, a globe covered in dragons, and other doo-dads and gee-gaws to make the room my own. I even hung a bulletin board / inspiration board. The only thing that’s missing is a purple, velvet, tufted chaise lounge for my “reading corner.”

When I had a housewarming party earlier this month, I told all of my guests that this was “the most important room in the house.”

“Have you been more productive in here?” they asked me, remembering my previous setup.

Well… no.

The thing is, no matter where I work, I have my ups and downs.

In fact, a lot of the time, I feel I’m doing my best work when I’m not writing. For example:

  • I recently interviewed a bunch of the sexual health professionals I’ve worked with in the past. While I typically hate chatting on the phone, I found our conversations pretty darn fascinating. Not only that, but my panel of sexperts gave me a ton of ideas for how I could possibly revise my in-progress book proposal before shopping it around again.
  • I also recently entered a yoga teacher training program and, last week, taught my very first class. Talk about being outside of my comfort zone! (According to Girls, that’s where the magic happens.) I’m obviously hoping that teaching classes will become an alternate stream of income, but I’m also interested in how immersing myself in yoga will affect my writing. After writing about sex for 10 years, I’d love to branch out into a new niche. And just think of the yoga / writing workshops and networking events I could plan!
  • Back in April, I joined my local Toastmasters club in order to work on my public speaking skills. While I’m used to hanging out with writers and yogis all the time, going to Toastmasters really energizes me. It feels good to meet new people, and the speech assignments actually give me the chance to test out some of my personal essays on a preliminary audience.

I could go on and on about how living my life has enriched my writing, and how my writing has enriched my life. But I already had that entire conversation with Dave Ursillo of The Literati just the other week.

To be more specific, we spent a good amount of time chatting about finding a balance between passion pieces and bill-paying pieces; going off-brand; how to enrich your writing; how to make a difference with words; and how to let your work enable you to live your life more fully.

If you’d like to hear that conversation, you have two more days to sign up for his writing community and take advantage of all the telechats and other goodies he plans on offering in the coming year. My chat with Dave is already live on the site.

In the meantime, though, spill it:

Do you get your best work done in that kick-ass home office of yours?


  1. No, I don’t always get my best work done in my home office, especially now that I have a hyperactive new kitten that likes to pounce on the wrong type of mouse (not the kind with fur and four legs). I write a lot in public libraries and in Starbucks and I’m glad to have those venues. But setting isn’t always really the issue, because I have to be primed psychologically for the fiction that I’m writing — having had sufficient time to meditate upon the concept for the story, but with the idea or ideas still fresh and exciting enough to inspire me.

  2. I have a pretty kick-ass office, but no, my best work isn’t always done there. In fact, I get my best ideas when I’m nowhere near the study. In the car, shower, garden….almost anywhere else is where my most creative ideas come out. My favorite — the swing in the garden. I was amazed by how many ideas came pouring out the minute I started swinging. 🙂

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