Blinded by the Light

Writerly frustrations are many and varied. Some of them have nothing at all to do with actual writing.

2014-10-20 12.39.50My spare bedroom at home long ago became my home-office. Now it’s also my writing zone. It’s a bit cluttered – more than my minimalist tendencies can tolerate, truth be told. But in addition to being my write/work zone, it still holds its status as spare room. That means it’s where spare stuff finds a home (usually a more permanent home than the spare stuff deserves). General clutter, unwanted furniture, guest put-you-up (mustn’t let them get too comfortable), over-purchased soft furnishings (you can have too many cushions – strange, but true), old stereos, 300+ CDs and the like have all ended up here. But this is where I spend my days, and notwithstanding the excess stuff that crowds me, I like it up here.

I live in the suburbs of London, but it’s a quiet cul-de-sac and my window overlooks shrubbery and trees, rather than the fronts of other houses, which is nice. It’s a south-facing window too, which means that in the summer the room is bathed in light all day long as the sun is high overhead.

As the leaves begin to turn, the sun droops in the sky and at this point, things get a bit annoying. Blummin’ annoying, in fact. For several hours of the day as I work, the sun, instead of drifting overhead, is low enough to hit me right between the eyes. That would be alright if it shone consistently and I could simply draw my blind for shade. But it’s autumn, which means there is weather – scudding clouds and patchy showers as well as blips of sunlight – it’s all very changeable.

Today is like many days I can look forward to over the coming months. I’m being strobed by the sun. Bright and fierce one minute, sunk behind clouds the next, then out again, then in, then out…. you get the picture. When it’s out I need the blind closed or my retinas will explode. When it’s behind a cloud, the room is plunged into Stygian gloom. That gets me leaping up to open the blind. I sit again and go back to my work – and the sun comes out. To cut a long story short (and overload a sentence with not one, but two clichés), I’m up and down like a very irritable yo-yo all day long.

I know what you’ll say. Just switch the light on, Julie! But I like my view and I enjoy seeing what little activity goes on outside. I don’t want to sit in a darkened room under electric light when the sun is trying to make its presence felt outside. Venetian blinds are the least-worst solution, but light finds its way through all those little pin-holes by the stringing and the twizzle mechanism is too far away to reach without getting up. Sunglasses might help, but what would the neighbours make of me when they wave at me as they wander past? You’re not a celebrity yet, old girl!

At the moment I’m sitting in gloom, blinds twizzled against the sun, although the sun has gone in. Instead of leaping up to twizzle the stick again, I’m penning this quickie grump for my blog.

What writerly frustrations do you put up with, that have nothing to do with your actual writing?

15 thoughts on “Blinded by the Light

  1. My frustration comes from sitting too long. So while I have a nice place to work, I’m not in it that much because I’m either standing up at the kitchen counter to write or in the basement walking slowly on my treadmill using my treadmill shelf for my laptop. Much better for my back in both cases. 🙂

    1. Wow… laptop on treadmill! Years of Pilates has rewarded me with much improved posture, a strong back and core (even though the rest of me has gone hopelessly to seed), but I need a bottle of your commitment and dedication to exercise please! 🙂

        1. I didn’t know what the ‘sitting disease’ was so I looked it up. Hmm… I’m a candidate for sure. I have, once or twice, looked at those ‘standing desks’ you can get, which you can raise or lower, giving you the impetus to stand for part of the day. I must do better!

          1. I had first mentioned a treadmill desk to my husband come Christmas time. Hint, hint, so to speak. Well, he didn’t get me the treadmill desk (which is very expensive), but he did buy me a $40 plastic shelf that attaches to my treadmill and holds my laptop. Best gift ever! I use it daily.

  2. It’s horrible for me at the moment because where I am (in the west of England) it flicks from “I’m about to rain” grey and miserable to bright sunshine. My desk is also next to a window and that means I am forever fiddling with the curtain.

    In summer, the sun is high enough that it doesn’t bother me and in winter, it’s cloudy most of the time and rather pleasant. Feb-March and October-November are the most difficult times to work in those conditions so you have my sympathy 🙂

    1. I think your experience is much like mine. I wonder if there’s an inventor out there somewhere who can design the perfect ‘writer’s blind’ to combat the whole sunshine/weather challenge?

  3. Not exactly on-topic but so close to your experience it seems a pity not to mention it.
    I once attended a major conference at an institution that shall remain nameless. They proudly placed us all in their new state of the art conference room. Having no doubt had similar experiences to you, the architect had included sunlight-controlled automatic shutters down the full length of the south wall.
    As the main speaker stood up to read his carefully composed presentation the shutters demonstrated their worth, rattling shut with a noise like 60 bowling pins collapsing.
    Unfortunately for him the sky that day contained an hour-long procession of small but dense clouds, all moving purposefully in an easterly direction…

    1. The best laid plans…. Sixty bowling pins collapsing – thanks for giving me my laugh-out-loud moment of the afternoon! 🙂

  4. I feel your pain. My office has a south-westerly window, so I too get the full sun in the afternoon. I have a curtain in arms reach that regularly gets drawn backwards and forwards as I write. I also find that the sun plus my computer makes this the warmest room in the house, which is great during winter but writing in summer can be an exercise in endurance.

    1. I think I touched a nerve with this post. One shouldn’t complain about the sunshine but… but…

      I can recommend the garden for summer writing. My investment in an enormous parasol and an extension cable paid off handsomely.

  5. We are entering the fall (autumn) here in southern California and this is my favorite season of the year. The light does change from summer and the days are cooler – thank goodness. I celebrate this season with long walks at twilight with my dog.

    1. I agree, autumn is my favourite season too, although here in the UK it does tend towards chilly, damp days. I love the colours in the trees and foliage, and though the droopy sun is an irritation when I’m trying to work, I’m happy with the drop in temperature. I never associated California with seasonal change. When one thinks of fall, one thinks of New England. I’ve enjoyed fall colours in Atlanta too, although fall doesn’t seem to arrive in Georgia until early December!

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