I believe strongly that while things themselves don't bring happiness, surrounding oneself with material objects that one loves does bring a certain pleasure to the soul. Maybe I've read A Rebours one too many times, but I'm a fan of creating an environment in which I can flourish, creatively speaking. Now, I'm not wealthy, so I can't carve out the creative space I'd really like. Then again, having to scratch together my creative space is a creative act in and of itself.
I also believe in dressing for occasions. If you're going to go to
an Opeth concert, for example, you probably want to wear black. Going out canoeing? Put on your PFD! If you don't know what a PFD is, you shouldn't be canoeing. Hunting? Best to wear Filson gear. Sitting down (or in my case, standing up) to write? Put on your writing shoes!
Yes, writing shoes!
And your writing fez!
Yes, WRITING FEZ!
Pardon me if I get a little crazy about my writing . . . accoutrements. It's not that I can't stand up (more on this later) and
churn out a chapter without them. With my busy life, much of my
writing is done on the fly, in-between other tasks, waiting while one of the kids gets a haircut, while cooking dinner, in line at the bank (that one got a few stares), etc. But when I can
block out a chunk of time and I want to get serious about writing, I
put on my writing gear and crawl into my writing cave.
It really is kind of like a cave, being in my basement and all. I
have four kids and a small house, so space is at a premium. As they
grow up and move on, I might be able to have a room to myself, though
I sometimes wonder if I really want a larger room all to
myself. There's something about my dark little corner of the basement
that actually helps me focus. Sure, there are all kinds of
distractions down there, I've surrounded myself with them. But
they're the kind of distractions that fuel my creativity, rather than
So, without further ado, here are a few of my favorite things, the
gear and space and knick-knacks out of which I create my little
auctorial universe. Now, if you'll excuse me, after I'm done with
this, I'm going to disappear into my lair . . .
Here they are, my writing shoes: Dr. Martens Mens Brogue, size 9 (I'm a small guy). Comfort, quality, inspiration. And the high soles give me a little more lift for writing. No, seriously. You'll see why later. It's not just my Napoleon Complex.
Selfie! OK, I hate them, too. Don't focus on me, focus on the out-of-focus fez. Look into its voided eyes. Deeply. Deeply. That's it. No, wait! Stay awake! Keep reading! It's a blog, for crying out loud, you're here to read! Seriously, now, this fez holds great meaning for me. I bought it for myself after I finished writing my novel Heraclix & Pomp, which I'm very proud of. A skull-embroidered fez plays a key symbolic role in the book, as a matter of fact. Agent Kris is still pimpin' it to editors, so if you want to read more of my completed fiction, you can go here, here or here. If you're interested in reading the beginnings of the sequel to Heraclix & Pomp, chapter 1 can be found, rather conveniently, on my blog, here.
This is actually the view behind me, as I write. The left side is a mirror, the right a corkboard. You can see the reflection of my writing desk in the mirror. The interesting blob at the lower left of the mirror is a melting-face theater mask that my youngest son made in his art metals class. The mirror and corkboard are surrounded by white Christmas lights. In fact, Christmas lights are ubiquitous in my little cave. The mirror isn't there for vanity - it's to double the light provided by the Christmas lights. On the corkboard, from top to bottom are: 1) a string of pictures of my children, oldest to youngest, 2) a particularly cool digital art piece of skeleton keys that I bought myself after selling my story "Keys I Don't Remember" (which you can read in my collection, Fossiloctopus), 3) a venetian mask (Do you sense a theme here? Me too. Hmm. Curious.), and 4) a framed collection of some of my favorite dark chocolate wrappers. I'm a little obsessive about dark chocolate. But not as obsessive as these guys!
This is my knick-knack shelf, below the mirror and corkboard. I'd be here all day explaining all the full details, if I tried to tackle this open wunderkammer. I'll just hit the high points. There is a bit of my own artwork there, a framed, signed print by collage artist Michael Shores. I also have here a collection of several lead miniatures, including a fantastic set of martians by Eureka miniatures, some Mi-Go (with a brain cylinder), and a pair of pulp-era science fiction killer robots (I can't, for the life of me, remember who I bought these from - someone whom I contacted through theminiaturespage). Behind the minis is my well-provisioned box of cone incense, which I often burn while writing (hit all the senses, I say!). To the left is a jester statue by the very talented Lisa Snellings (over which is draped a bloodstone mandala that my brother made for me), and a vinyl copy of the E.T.L., Extraterrestrial Live album by Blue Oyster Cult, which is a work of art on many levels.
The corner. I find myself staring at this area when I need to think. Mostly because my World Fantasy Award trophy is there - Lovecraft all decked out in a beanie with a fake Pinocchio nose (the beanie was from a reading I did once, the nose was from Halloween one year). Staring into Howard's vacant eyes helps the brain juices to get boiling, somehow. Below that, we have a set of medieval silver coins, a cup of my writing pens, and, of course, my writing fez. Up in the air, there, you'll see my caged origami ravens. Here's a closer look.
The Book Shelf:
Many, many wonderful books. Some of them for reference, some just because I love them. One of these days I'll have to list them all. On top of the shelf there's a pic of my lovely wife and a set of Moebius trading cards, along with an angel smurf my youngest gave me. There are a couple of rayguns there (one of them the notorious Fizziwig Thresher Mark II Ioniser), a tentacle that my middle son made in ceramics class (what's a fantasy writer's den without a tentacle somewhere?), and at the bottom is a . . . thing . . . a lightbox, I suppose, that I made out of an old ammo box.
Confession time: My writing desk isn't really a desk. It's an old phonograph cabinet that someone was putting on their curb one day, when I asked them what they wanted for it. "You want it? Go ahead and take it!" Apparently, I'm not the only one who doesn't have enough room in his house. So I scored it for free. I found, years ago, that I'm much more energetic and much happier standing at a desk, rather than sitting. This is true at the day job, as well. And this is why my writing shoes, with their extra bit of lift, add to my writing enjoyment. Sure, I could go all Gene Simmons, I suppose, but those writing shoes are comfy and stylish! Anyway, inside my writing desk, you'll find several composition notebooks, pen cartridge refills, a can of coconut water or two, and mmmmmaybe some dark chocolate.
Where the Action Happens:
Whoa! What's that? Could it be a bar of dark chocolate on top of the writing desk? Why yes, that's exactly what it is, along with yet another raygun (that's three within arm's reach - watch it, alien scumbags!), my Google Nexus (playing Krzysztof Penderecki's De Natura Sonoris No.2 - you may remember this piece from the movie The Shining - via Pandora), a beautiful wooden pen I inherited from a wonderful friend who passed away recently (sorry for the sad note), and chapter 19 (right in the thick of it, in fact) of the science fiction novel I'm currently working on, entitled Solistalgia.
So there you are, from shoes to schrift, a tour of my imagination factory - well, at least the portion outside of my head and closest to my body, as I write. Hopefully the internet doesn't up and croak as I post this, my most memory-hogging blog post to date. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to tweet me @ForrestAguirre. If you'd like to read some free fiction of mine and purchase some almost-free fiction (both long and short form), pop on over to my Smashwords page and have a look. In the meantime, I'm going to head down, stand up, and do some more writing!
Addendum: The skull fez makes a cameo appearance, well, many cameo appearances, in my novel Heraclix & Pomp, which I just sold to Resurrection House publishing!
Addendum 2: I have added the wonderful Bronze Hugonaut to my writerly cabinet of wonders. He offers a lot of inspiration when I'm stuck.