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Write From Home
Kim Wilson
P.O. Box 4145
Hamilton, NJ 08610

E-mail: kim @ writefromhome.com

Off the Page...

What's On Your Writer's Shelf
by Tama Westman

Finally giving in to my complaints that in our new home I had no place to put all my lovely books, my husband designed and built a floor-to-ceiling bookcase for my home writer's office that included a fireplace, two deep cupboards and a spot for a television and stereo.

Elated, I quickly unpacked all my books that had been sitting in boxes since the move last year. The shelves filled up quickly and still I had more books to unpack. But when I sat back, I didn't like what I saw. With the shelves all filled, my office now seemed more hectic and cluttered than ever. How could I ever write in such a place?

Edit the extras
Fortunately, hubby had an answer. He suggested I move most of the books onto the shelves he put in the closet, and keep only those that inspired me in my office. Hmm, I wondered if that would work. As a writer, I do love to have my books surround me, but hey, clutter is clutter. I decided I could at least give his idea a shot.

Tama's OfficeThe result―when I look up from my computer to think of a work or work out a phrase, my eyes are greeted with books by Frost, Alcott, Hawthorne, Shakespeare, Spurgeon, Plato and Eliot. When I take a break and sit in the slipper-chair by the fire, I pick up one of these favorites and thumb through the pages, relishing the company of a great writer for a spell.

Elicit a response
By removing the clutter and keeping just one or two mementos tucked in here and there, the shelves now motivate me to write. No longer lost in a sea of titles, I spend more time reading the classics, and am stirred to write more and better than ever before.

For convenience' sake, I keep one shelf packed with those handbooks I use everyday, such as market guides, trade books and manuals of style. The well-worn books on these shelves are slaughtered by highlighter marks and notes in the margins, so I call it my writer's reference section.

E-mail your source
As writers, we are a quirky, weird breed who linger over our coffee as much as our wine, if a good conversation can be found. We take hikes for inspiration and wake in the wee hours to jot down dream-scaped brilliance. We spy on our fellow man for hints of personality traits we can use in our stories. We gleefully jot down notes on the backs of bills, take-away menus and paper napkins. Our love of words, how they flow on the page to create characters and creatures and uncharted worlds sets us apart, makes us unique. So tell me, what's on your writer's shelf?

What do you keep close by your writing center that inspires you not just to write, but to write more and better than ever before? When the muse takes a vacation and your fingers can't dance, what stirs your writer's heart to action? Please take a moment to share your writer's shelf with me by e-mailing tama@tamawestman.com. It will be fun to see how varied your responses might be. And to bring inspiration to us all, I'll include some of your responses in next month's column. Write on!

Tama Westman writes the Off the Page column for Write From Home. An award-winning journalist, she teaches creative writing and poetry with the AHEAD program (Achieving Higher Education and Dreams) at Metropolitan State University, mentors high school journalism students, and speaks at writers conferences throughout the country. Married twenty-four years, and mother of two grown children, she lives in Minnesota. She loves to hear from other writers. Feel free to contact her at tama@tamawestman.com. For more, please visit http://www.tamawestman.com










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