Welcome to Lea Wait’s Study ….

 Until about seven years ago I’d never had a “room of my own,” at least one designated just for writing, not for sleeping, eating,

Entrance to Lea's Study

watching TV, soothing fevered brows, or reading bedtime stories.

Of course, I’d dreamed about having one, and I’d planned one. And so when the oyster shell plaster walls in part of my 1774 home began to crumble and it was clear some changes needed to be made, I was certain what I wanted. Not another guest room.  (Although I do love having guests. Sometimes.) I wanted to re-do one small room into the study of my dreams.

Welcome!  (The letters are framed 19th century brass stencils.)

Two walls are covered by built-in bookcases. They hold the reference books I use most, plus materials I take with me for “show and tell” when I visit libraries and schools, and research materials for books I’ve written but which haven’t sold yet. (I’m always optimistic.)  Why file those papers and books away in the room (yes, an entire other room) I use for my books on Maine, American history, psychology, forensics, etc., when I could have the specific books I might need right here at hand?  By the way, that’s one of my favorite Winslow Homer prints hanging on the bookcase, bedecked by a Red Sox cap. All work and no play, you know.

There are two windows in my office.  I can see out both of them from my seat at the corner desk. One looks out over the river, reminding me how lucky I am to be in Maine. The other gives me a view of my driveway, letting me know if anyone has driven in. That’s for convenience and security. I live in the country.

On my right hand is a refrigerator for water and iced tea, and it’s topped by an electric kettle, and one of my favorite mugs from a local Maine potter,  so I don’t have to stop to go downstairs to the kitchen for a cup of tea in the middle of a chapter. Unless, of course,  I need an excuse to stop.  Then I can always be out of tea bags. (The NINK newsletter lying there is the monthly publication of Novelists, Incorporated:  one of the writers’ organizations I belong to. Wonderful group.)

On the shelf above the desk are a couple of my favorite dictionaries and thesauruses, including a 19th century one if I’m writing an historical. A  Word XP for Dummies. A Chicago Manual of Style. Books on prints.  A Zip Code directory. Basic tools of the trade that are used often.

The wonderful little stand with the green index cards in it has replaced the stacks of cards I used to have on my desk. It’s from Levenger’s, one of my favorite places.  Expensive, but a writer’s heaven. I write plot and character notes on the index cards and then stick them in the stand; as I incorporate the details in the book I’m writing the cards get discarded, or put in a folder to check later. I can switch them around, or tear them up, as necessary, and always see where I’ve been and where I’m going. I love that stand. Right now it’s holding cards for my next Maggie Summer Shadows mystery.  I’m writing about 10 pages a day, so it’s helping me keep on track.

Right Side of Desk

On the other side of the desk I keep my appointment calendar, the reference books and notes related to the book I’m writing now, my two-line telephone (one line for me; one for my husband,) and a pencil holder my daughter Elizabeth made in high school ceramics. (The orange flower a young fan gave me when I spoke at her school.)   Above the desk is my Agatha Nomination, family pictures, fun quotations, name tags from conferences I’ve spoken at,  and good luck tokens.

Left Hand Side of Desk

There’s also a nineteenth century oil portrait of Edgar Allan Poe that my husband bought at an auction before we were married to give me good luck.  Edgar oversees all my work.

I haven’t shown you the remaining, wall, although I do love it, too.  (I love all of this room!) It holds six file cabinets (Levengers, your catalog is dangerous!) and the 19th century wooden wardrobe which used to hold clothing in this room (homes built in 1774 weren’t equipped with closets) and which I’ve converted to a cabinet to hold my office supplies. That side of the study also holds my printer/scanner, open files for events I’m scheduled to do in the next 12 months, and ideas/tentative synopses for possible next books.

I spend 10-12 hours a day in this room.  I’m glad to have had you visit. But, sorry. Now I have to get back to work.  Thanks for coming!

Portrait of Edgar Allan Poe

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7 Responses

  1. Beautiful, Lea! I have a study of my own since we’ve moved to Middlebury, but nothing so elegant as yours. Love those pictures and antique prints. And of course the gold-frame portait of our mystery ancestor, Poe. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Lea, thanks for the tour. My room is even tinier, but all mine. I agree the Levinger store is a dangerous place. I use their note pads and just love them. I love the way you use the stand for holding the cards. I have mine on a cork bulletin board that works almost as well.

    I love your name at the entrance. Very striking.

    Jeri

  3. Your workspace is amazing. Thank you for sharing it with us.

  4. Just beautiful. A lovely balance of comfort and work.

  5. I don’t see much floor space. Just as it should be (as I keep telling my husband). It’s a wonderful room of your own, Lea, and in Maine to boot!

  6. One of my sisters kept suggesting I convert one of the larger spaces in the house … but I truly wanted a small, cosy, space. I wanted to be able to reach out and touch my printer and most of my files … and to only be a few feet from anything I’d want. I didn’t want floor space. If I want to take a walk, I’ll go outside. Or downstairs. There is just room for me and maybe one guest here, and that’s intentional. In the warmer months I open the windows and the sound of the birds keeps me company. And then there are all those people in my head … 🙂

  7. You are living the dream, Lea. The river view, the portrait of Poe. I write in a windowless closet right now, and it does suit me: cozy and snug, with equally tiny objects made or given to me by people I love.

    But one day I hope to be out in the country, looking out at placid or dramatic beauty. And something Poe-related would be awfully nice, too.

    BTW, 10 pp a day?? Wow.

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