Saturday, December 6, 2008

The writers room

An excellent audio slideshow on the BBC website at the moment features photographs by Eamonn McCabe of writers' rooms.

Much more than meeting the real person behind the novels or poetry, their rooms and bookshelves tell us a lot about them.

Eamonn McCabe, Beryl Bainbridge’s Room. From Writers’ Rooms. Archival digital print 29.5x42cm, paper size. Madison Contemporary Art, London.

A revolver on the desk is perhaps trying a little hard for the Gothic writer persona, don't you think, Beryl? I do like the ship model though (Of course it'll be the RMS Titanic, won't it...).

Some are exactly what you might expect, others surprising in other ways. Have a look at the show, and I suggest you do it with the captions 'off' first and see if you can match anyone's writing style to their room. Few seem to have too much of the 'look at me' wall, and there's a good sprinkling of inspirational objects, pictures and material tacked to walls, or spread around. Some rooms provide comfort for the natural 'floor pile filers' among us.

Eamonn McCabe. Craig Raine’s Room, from Writers’ Rooms. Archival digital print, 29.5x42cm, paper size.

The exhibition is on at the Madison Contemporary Art gallery in London.

Unlike many other professionals, such as musicians, or even sports people, writers remain people who can be their own best manager or worst enemy, the writer's methodology and technique being entirely up to them and ranging as widely as can possibly be imagined and a bit beyond. The book Writers on Writing is fascinating on the topic, while the NY Times has an online version.

It's fascinating peeking into other writer's working places. I'll never forget the photo I saw of the interior of Roald Dahl's shed. But there's a more egalitarian version online too. 'On My Desk' is a great blog, and well worth a dip into. (And a 'G'day' to our friend near the top of that one, too.)

Whichever writer said 'a writer has to write' was right. So I've got to go and do some.



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