Monday, August 22, 2011

What's In Your Playpen? by Tim Smith

Every writer has a favorite place to meet their Muse. For some, it’s ‘neath the shade of a tree in the local park. Others may choose a cabin in the mountains. I know one writer who takes her laptop to the café at Barnes and Noble and pounds out stories while sipping Latte’s and munching biscotti.

My playpen is a spare bedroom in my house that evokes Fred Sanford’s junkyard. I like to think of it as organized chaos. The top of my desk is littered with papers that I’ve convinced myself are important, although at times I’m not sure why. I’m surrounded by posters from my favorite Bogart and Clint Eastwood movies. Alongside these I have a souvenir of one of my proudest achievements, a poster advertising a book signing tour I did in The Florida Keys a few years ago. There’s also a framed copy of a terrific interview I gave to a newspaper in The Keys.

Of course I have a bookcase filled with my favorite paperbacks by Mickey Spillane, Raymond Chandler and Ian Fleming. Another shelf is devoted to old books about movies. These fight for space with Roget’s Thesaurus, a dictionary, The People’s Almanac and a dog-eared copy of Catch-22.

There’s a couch that no one can sit on because it’s piled high with promotional materials, half-finished manuscripts I lost interest in, a few cameras and a stack of rare Sinatra LP’s. I believe there’s an e-reader in the pile, too, but I can’t say for sure. If I dug deep enough I’d probably find that overdue book the Library’s been hassling me about.

I have a credenza that’s filled with research material, including brochures, newspapers and photographs from places I’ve visited. Since I tend to gravitate toward romantic adventure stories, I have a book devoted to firearms so I can be accurate when describing what kind of gun the hero pulls on the bad guys. There are also a few how-to books, like Romance Writing for Dummies and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Getting Published. I didn’t say I had all the answers. Another research book that’s useful is The KISS Guide to the Kama Sutra. Not only good for writing sex scenes, it’s warmed up a few winter nights as well.

I think most writers have notebooks filled with random thoughts that hit them while waiting in the Dentist’s office and I’m no exception. I looked through a couple of them and found the following nuggets, some of which I’ve used.

He had all the charm of a statue but not as much personality.

She was as nervous as a hooker in a Confessional.

The office itself wasn’t much – slightly smaller than the Astrodome, with a desk you could land a light plane on.
The men were going for the drug dealer wannabe look – Armani suits over white muscle shirts and garish jewelry – that concealed their drab lives as nine-to-five office dwellers.

“You think he’s telling the truth?”
“I wouldn’t put anything past him.”

“You’ll need to speak to my secretary, Singletary.”
Vic gave him a blank look. “Singletary the secretary?”
“That’s correct.”
“Must get confusing.”

So what’s in your playpen?

Tim Smith is an award-winning author whose books range from romantic intrigue to contemporary erotic romance. He is also a freelance photographer. More information about his books can be found at http://www.timsmithauthor.com/.


Tina Donahue said...

Your office sounds like mine. Messy, but I love it. :)

Fiona McGier said...

I don't have a room...only a corner of a hallway, actually. I have pictures of both of my deceased parents, smiling in their younger days. A bulletin board with pithy sayings and comics I like, as well as a calendar just for my author-ly stuff, so I always know when my deadlines are for anything I've committed to. And a statue on my desk that my husband gave me when I started getting published, that has a naked man and woman sitting on a ledge and kissing, their positions suggesting rapt exploration of each other. He's so romantic!

Sarah J. McNeal said...

So what is it about Catch 22 that makes you love the old dog-eared volume so much?
I love your choice of reading--cool old detective stories and spy novels.
Frank Sinatra sounds like the perfect choice for inspiration to write a mystery.
I am fortunate to have a room dedicated to my writing space. Like yours, mine has a desk loaded with reference books, notebooks filled with essential data and all that stuff I need. Book cases and filing cabinets along the walls and a bulletin board with my story board above my desk. Above that are pictures of my parents and my sister and me. Oh yeah. A BB gun that looks like a Colt .45, a spur, hunting knife, dream catcher and a picture of Chief Standing Bull--or some other Native American chief--not sure. Lots of stuff.
I can't imagine sitting in a cafe with my laptop writing my WIP. It seems like a romantic notion of what a writer ought to do though.
Lovely blog, Tim.

Adele Dubois said...

Call me neat freak. My office is neat as a pin. I couldn't concentrate in a messy workspace.

Inside my office are two bookcases filled to the brim with my favorite books and those TBR, CD player, desk and chair, laptop, printer, and a few pieces of free- standing art. My walls are bare these days, because they've been repainted. I haven't rehung my awards or framed book covers because I don't want to mar the clean, fresh surfaces. ")

Best of luck with your writing, Tim!


jean hart stewart said...

Loved the Singletary the Secretary.
You should do something with that one!

Tim Smith said...

Thanks for chiming in, everyone. Sounds like a diverse group here.

Sarah, I'm not sure what the fascination is with "Catch-22" but I've always loved Heller's take on life. Maybe I feel like his characters somedays - trying to make sense out of craziness.

Jean, I think Singletary the Secretary will wind up in a story some day. It's too cute not to use.