Friday, July 29, 2011

More on The Writer's Desk

I've been reading and enjoying The Writer's Desk by Jill Krementz. Fifty-six authors--including Stephen King, John Irving, Joyce Carol Oates, and Toni Morrison--are featured within its pages, each pictured working in his or her writing space.

I find it incredibly interesting to see how other writers work. There are some who seem to work best in tiny, cluttered rooms, knickknacks and pictures and books scattered around them. Others seem to take a minimalist approach, preferring the order of clean desks and clear walls. Some use computers; others use typewriters or handwrite their manuscripts. The late John Updike used different writing instruments and surfaces for different tasks: an oak desk and a manual Olivetti for answering letters; a steel desk, where he wrote the beginnings of his projects by hand; and a white, Formica-topped desk where he typed up his projects. Some of the featured writers don't have dedicated writing spaces. Toni Morrison, for example, writes in a notebook while sitting on a sofa in the living room.

Even more interesting than the photos, though, are the writer's words that accompany them. Many of the authors give advice; some talk about how they started writing; others discuss their writing spaces and writing processes, some writing for hours each day, some holding themselves to only a few hundred words or a couple of pages. Still others talk about rituals they have, things they feel they must do before they're able to begin writing.

Through her photos, Krementz has provided a rare and intimate glimpse into the lives of people whose profession is often one of solitude. The Writer's Desk is an informative, entertaining, and beautifully constructed book.


  1. I've never heard of the book ... sounds interesting & informative !
    It probably dispels any pre-conceived notions about a writer's working surface/writing environment ...

  2. mish: It's a great book! I believe it's out of print now, but I was able to find a copy at the library. It definitely gives me a new perspective on what a writer's space is "supposed" to look like!