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Monday, September 26, 2016

A Writer Considers Building a Shed

I think I need a writer's shed.

I've always been a writer who loves to write in the chaos of a coffee shop—the whir of the espresso machine and all the clinking of ceramic, at least in a cool/good coffee shop.

But I've also been enamored and in love with the writer's spaces of those who long to be alone and in their own little world—Thoreau's cabin, Roald Dahl's hut, George Bernard Shaw's hut, Emerson's shack, or, my favorite, Dylan Thomas' primitive boathouse in Wales.

My wonderful Leslie gave me a present not long ago—a watercolor original painting of the inside of Thomas' space in Laugharne.


The boathouse is deliciously ruffled, yet full of Thomas' inspirations. Photos and drawings of favorite creatives—Walt Whitman and others. These are tacked and taped to the walls. There are drawings and quotes littering the space. Books on the floor and scattered on a shelf. And windows to the stunning beauty of Wales. 


I'm not considering a boathouse. And I'm not as ambitious as Shaw was. His hut was actually on a turntable so that it moved with the sun, allowing him to create primitively efficient solar power heat.

But I am ready to embark on this idea. A 10x8 space in the corner of the property—a getaway, a sacred space, a writer's haven. It's not a man cave; it's not an escape. Electricity? Maybe not. A hurricane lamp seems efficient. Heat is needed? There are propane-powered space heaters, right? Cooling? A good fan and some air flow built in through the design. Simple. Clean. Heavenly.

I've read about other writers who have built their own and it can be expensive or you can go the cheaper route, dressing up a shed from Home Depot. I'm not looking to build a separate housing unit, but it has to have some aesthetic appeal. It has to look like a place one would want to be—where one would want to find themselves on a breezy fall night, massaging words and themes.

Journalist and author Michael Pollan built a shed for himself and wrote a book about it—A Place of My Own: The Architecture of Daydreams. In the first paragraphs he writes:

"Is there anybody who hasn't at one time or another wished for such a place, hasn't turned those soft words over until they'd assumed a habitable shape? What they propose, to anyone who admits them into the space of a daydream, is a place of solitude a few steps off the beaten track of everyday life." 

I ordered the book. Let's see what happens. 

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