For some time now, The Guardian has been collecting brief illustrated articles about the rooms where writers work. The collection now stands at fifty writers' rooms, and they make for delightful reading. Three core elements that appear in virtually all of the rooms are books, clutter, and computers. (A fourth would have to be "comfy chairs," though I guess that's common to most rooms in general.) In a surprisingly large subset, the color red is prominent in the room. I'm not sure why the red seems so pronounced, but check out the rooms of AL Kennedy, Kate Mosse, Nicola Barker, John Richardson, Carmen Callil...okay, you get the idea.
Here's a sample from the piece on Geoff Dyer's room (pictured above, right):
This is version 4.0 of the Dyer study, the Studium Scholasticum. I had the same deal - same desk, same paint, same shelves - in three previous places. It's at the top of the house, as all studies have to be: you know, the brains of the operation. Last year the roof started leaking and it was like having water on the brain, but that's fixed now.
There's an Arthur Koestler essay in which he says there are two kinds of writers: those whose desks offer a view from the window and those who like to face the wall. I'm of the latter persuasion, though I can't remember what kind of writer this makes me in the Koestlerian scheme of things. One who likes to have a shelf above his desk, I suppose.
I love efficiency. I would like to have a completely clean desk, but stuff mounts up. I always have a photo of Don Cherry taped above my desk (to the left), but it's not always the same picture. Whenever I come across a new picture of the Don, I replace the old one. There's also a photo of my dad in front of the council house where he grew up, looking like a member of the leisure class with his tennis racket and whites.
Check out the whole collection of writers' rooms for a nice afternoon of voyeurism.