Bett Norris


Writing Spaces

I was asked to write about my writing space. I use a table as a desk for my laptop. I cut the legs to make it shorter. I should say that my partner cut down the legs with her Dremel.  I do have an old oak desk in my office, saved from a thrift store. I use it to hold reference books about writing. I use the photos on the wall a lot. I stare at them. Most of them are old black and white shots of old people, grandparents, mother, father, all inspirational for me. Then of course there are books. I do have a Kindle, but I also like to have print books on hand. Two walls of my office are bookshelves. I like to write very early in the morning, before the world is awake, sometimes before I am fully awake. I once had a TV in the office and would listen to CNN as I wrote, but now, I can barely tolerate the news.

Most of the folders on the writing table behind the laptop are research docs. In the book I am currently working, I used to find out a lot about my family history. I have copies of old deeds, copies of census records. Photos of headstones. It’s amazing what you can find out by walking through old cemeteries. This work in progress (I never think of titles to my novels) is a sort of generational saga about two families, one once landed and proud, one hardscrabble, both reduced after the Civil War to identical circumstances. This book is in no way modeled after my own family, I swear. Really.

What I need in order to write is to be surrounded by books.

PS: At the top of the bookcase, you can see the silver bowl I won in an essay contest in high school. On the oak desk are books like Roget’s Thesaurus, The Chicago Manual of Style, Strunk and White’s Elements of StyleThe Copy Editor’s Handbook, a biography of Maxwell Perkins, Editors on Editing, Writing Fiction by Janet Burroway,  a book and characters and viewpoint, and a book on plot and structure.












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