Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Welcome To My Office

By Robin "Red Hot" Kaye

I’ve spent a lot of time on my office. It’s perfect.

I have a TreadDesk—yes, you read it right, a real treadmill desk, the desktop is on hydraulic legs to adjust to walking height with a press of a button so I can write while walking 1.4 miles per hour whenever I get the urge, and an exercise ball to sit on when I don’t feel like walking.

I have inspiration in front of me—a life-size stand up of Mark Harmon as Leroy Jethro Gibbs from NCIS—my favorite show and one of Abby too because my kids gave them to me for my birthday.

I have bookshelves filled with hundreds of books on writing and three different yet beautiful dictionaries.

I have not one but two beloved Mac computers with two screens because one can never have a big enough desk top.

I have my Writer’s Clock which tells me what time it is—closing in on a deadline, unfortunately.

I even have a sound machine so I can hear applause and laughter whenever I need it.

I have my sidekicks, Raja, my three-legged Bengal cat, and Jasmine, my Pointer mix always there to talk to or give me love.

I’m a lucky author!

The only fly in the ointment is that my DH—dear husband or damn husband depending on my mood—has decided, since we share everything else, my office has magically turned into our office.

Every evening and weekend, he’s sitting directly in front of my desk and I can’t work. Now my DH is as close to perfect as anyone possessing a Y chromosome can be. He built me my office, my desktop, and even bought me a second monitor while he’s using one of those teeny tiny notebook computers on the desk in front of mine with a ten-inch screen. He does the cooking when I’m on deadline, all the laundry all the time, takes care of running the kids around, reads my contracts, and is the most supportive husband anyone can imagine. It’s really hard to complain—and yet somehow I find a way. It’s frustrating as hell because as perfect as he is, he’s still a man. So how does an anything-but-perfect wife, mother, and author tell her near-perfect husband to get the hell out of her office because he’s a walking, talking, breathing writer’s block?

She doesn’t.

She packs up her MacBook Air and goes to Starbucks. Yes, I know it doesn’t make any sense. How can I write at Starbucks with a ton of people, screaming kids, beeping coffee timers, and insanely loud Frapuccino machines, and not be able to write with my husband typing quietly on his little notebook computer?


For two years I home schooled my daughter (who used the same desk my husband does now) and drove her ninety miles each way to Carlisle, PA to attend the Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet and dance forty hours per week. I had no choice but to make the Carlisle Crossing Starbucks my office. It took me a few weeks, but I’d go to work, get my coffee, and write my books. I wrote four books while Twinkle Toes danced. Then she decided to move to Carlisle, live with a host family, and go to Carlisle middle and high school. I thought, yay! No more home schooling, no more driving three hours a day! I’ll get so much work done. I sat in my lovely office and I couldn’t write a damn thing. It took me about two months of twiddling my thumbs before I got any decent words written. But finally, after much practice and Twinkle Toes withdrawal, I was able to work. Things went swimmingly, I did run back and forth to Carlisle to see Twinkle Toes and my Starbucks family, but for the most part, I was happy working in my lovely office until you-know-who decided it was OURS!

Now I’m at the Mt. Airy Starbucks—if I squint my eyes, I imagine I’m in Carlisle so it’s not so different. I do miss my favorite baristas—Laura, Lauren, Jess, Gina, Ben, Trudi, Christine, Shannon, Steph, the Manager, Nikki, the District Manager but I’m making new friends at the Mt. Airy Starbucks, and I’ll be working there until I finish Call Me Wild.

Last night, the guys closed up shop, and I sat on the patio working away since it was nice out and still before DH’s bedtime. My barista buddy Edward dropped off a box of coffee to hold me over until my MacBook Air’s battery ran dry. I swear, if there were an outlet and a porta-potty, I’d have stayed all night!

I figure I’ll eventually get used to sharing an office with DH, but I don’t have the time to twiddle my thumbs right now. I have a book due in nine days. Yikes! If Starbucks was open twenty-four hours a day, I’d move in until I finished the book.


Gregory Payne/Alex Carreras said...

WOW! You are unbelievable....in a good way. Keep finding ways to write. I would hate not to read Robin Kaye.

krisgils33 said...

that's hilarious! I'm super glad you figured out how to get those books done....so I have stuff to read! I share the home office with my hubby, but he is such a slob I hardly ever go in there. I usually work from the kitchen table. Still beats taking the Metro an hour into DC to my real office. :-)

Donnell Ann Bell said...

Oh, Robin, what a terrific writer's cave! I wish I had some advice for you, but we're in the same er... boat. I find my husband in my office all the time and I take my work elsewhere. The bedroom, my patio, etc. Don't know what I'm going to do when he retires. But I gotta ask... will a jury convict us?

Thank goodness for Starbucks!

Robin Covington said...

You gotta do what you gotta do! LOL!

My Main Man made the last 6 feet of my 19 foot long closet into my writing cave and he's stays out of it - thank goodness!


Anonymous said...

I can SO relate. To me it's like having a constant nuclear thrum in the room aimed at me. And the guilt on top of it because they do so much but still...

You'll make the deadline, I'm sure. At Starbucks most likely, lol. Good luck.

Candis Terry said...

My office is way too close to the kitchen. And snacks. Love the treadesk! Thanks for giving me great ideas on how to keep going!

Robin Kaye said...

@ Incidental Expenses - Thanks, IE I'll be back in my Starbucks office before the kids get home from school. It's so much easier to turn off my 'mommy ears' when I'm a 'Bux. No matter how old they are (14, 15, & 18) I'm still in Mommy Mode when they're around.

@Krisgils33 - My critique partners and I talk about renting office space together as soon as we can, I'd gladly go for that, but then I'd need to get a Starbucks Espresso Machine and a cute barista for the office because everyone knows coffee tastes much better when someone else makes it. Calling all Baristas--anyone interested?

@ Donnell - I just spilled coffee all over my shirt--I'm so used to drinking out of cups with tops, I forgot I had an actual coffee cup...duh! And no, I think once we explain how our DH's mere breathing is enough to kill all creativity, they'll sign up to protect our writing space!

@ Robin :)--Great name! LOL My walk-in-closet is where I go to talk on the phone, there are people everywhere else. My DH is in the office, the living room and family room are full of kids (most times, even the neighbor's kids and their extended family--I kid you not) and if I step foot into the kitchen, someone is asking me what there is to eat. I ran into my closet to chat with my mother and when I walked out, there was DH sitting on the bed, putting on his shoes. Sigh...I went to take a shower alone, locked the door to insure privacy and cried--of course I was interrupted a half-dozen times.

Robin Kaye said...

@ Marley - Thanks sweetie! Definitely a nuclear thrum--no guilt involved on my DH's part, the man is a slave driver. He says since he can write code for 12 hours straight, I should be able to write fiction. I tried explaining the left brain/right brain thing to him...he didn't buy it. In his mind writing code is exactly the same as writing romance. See, it's that damn Y Chromosome!

@ Candis - My desk is 10 steps away from the refrigerator and thanks to my near-perfect DH, it usually has food in it. It's much easier for me to eat healthy at 'Bux, I'm nut much into sweets, and there's a Apple Cheese Tray I really like--there's also a burrito place right across the way, good healthy food.

Lynn Kellan said...

You are the second author I've discovered who uses a treadmill on occasion when she writes. I'm envious!

My husband isn't my distraction...it's my 12 year old daughter who sits besides me and writes her stories while I write mine. Rather amazing that she pounded out 50,000 words in a month! Maybe I should stop writing and become her agent. :)

Deborah V. said...

Hi Robin,
I think getting into the groove is the hardest part wherever I end up writing. For me it’s anywhere I can stay focused. Starbucks hustle and bustle is white noise. People chitchatting, the musaz over the innercom, tables and chairs scraping doesn’t bother me a bit. I’m able to focus on the screen and everything else fades away. Why then can’t I do the same thing at home? It’s personal. At Starbucks, I don’t care what other people are doing. It’s not my problem. I am off duty so-to-speak. At home, what my family is doing is very much my business. Even if I don’t need to know, don’t want to know, I have to know.

Jean Willett said...

Okay, I want that treadmill desk...maybe. I'd have to try and type/write. I can ride a recumbent bike and read, but I can't walk and read without tipping off the treadmill :)It looks wonderful, though.
As for SB--YAY!! I finished a book at my local SB and I knew I was in trouble when I entered one day and really, really wanted to ask the person in the corner chair to GET OUT OF MY CHAIR! I had to slink over to a hard chair and that person had to suffer glaring glances.
I love my Starbucks and I have two backups just in case one is way too noisy. Great read, Robin.


Robin Kaye said...

@ Lynn - Wow, your daughter sounds amazing! My Godson is 14 and just self-published his first book, he's been working on the series since he was 6 or 7. What cool kids!

@ Deborah - Exactly! Those Mommy Ears never fail to distract us and are impossible to turn off! Believe me, I've tried!

@ Jean - Yeah, I love my TreadDesk. It wobbles too much to surf the net when I'm walking but I can write at 1.4MPH and staying off the internet is a good thing! LOL - I have a table at each of my 'Bux and I don't do well sitting anywhere else. If I walk into Carlisle and someone's at my table, I'm sooo not happy. The Baristas have decided we should glue my book covers and acknowledgement pages on the table to mark it as mine. LOL - I always acknowledge them in all my books. They keep me caffeinated and relatively sane!

Cynthia D'Alba said...

I so "get" the Starbucks and writing. Here at my house...I adore the DAMN husband, who is at the moment building me an outdoor kitchen. But also at any moment, he will yell for me to come help with something. Hard to write when I have to stop every 15 minutes to give him a hand.

And yes, I have an office. It's a disaster of books, papers, etc. My "inspiration" is plastered all over the wall. Tim McGraw...full sized towel, clock, picture in a boot frame (from my niece), pictures hanging from desk lamp, even a mobile of the book I'm working on. And yet...where am I sitting? In the living room. Sigh.

I get your life.

Maggie Toussaint said...


I'm so in awe of your treadmill desk. I'm such a lump when it comes to exercise.

You seem so adaptable to all those writing situations and environments. I bet if you gave it enough time, you could block hubby as white noise.

But then again, maybe not. There's something pervasive about male frustration, some brooding intangible sense that they give off that is oftentimes impossible to ignore.

Thank your lucky stars you've got a spare office at Starbucks!


Diana Cosby said...

Holy cow, Robin, your hubby is amazing . . . as are you. I know your kids appreciate having such a wonderful and supportive mom and dad. And your puppy, he looks just like mine! :) Woo woo time here. I'm a huge fan of Starbucks, yummy coffee and such nice baristas! I used to have a big writer's cave, but after 33 moves, it's dwindled down in the size of books. Thanks for sharing your crazy life as the the love of your life. Wishing you continued success!

Anonymous said...

robin...i feel your pain. my dh has a lovely office--better than anything ive ever had...and i write at panera LOL. ronna

Sandy said...

LOL Hilarious. Poor hubby, he doesn't know what he's doing to you.

I love the posters of Jethro Leroy Gibbs and Abby.

Robin Kaye said...

@ Cyndi - You always did get me. Maybe because we're so alike.

@ Maggie - Love the TreadDesk, don't use it as much as I should.

@ Diane - Thanks for coming by. It's always great to hear from you.

@ Ronna - LOL If I went to Panera, I'd weigh a ton.

@ Sandy - Jethro and Abby are stand-up cardboard figures. They sell them on line in the CBS store along with Bert the Farting Hippo (my daughter has that as well as Caf-Pow Cups, NCIS clothes and hats, the kids even got me a mouse pad with one of Gibbs rules on it. LOL We end up shopping there often.

aarbaugh said...

Love your post. Your humor is great and heavy with real life. I really need to take some tips from you. My writing seems to be lagging of late. And don't even ask about my office. It's a disaster. Trust me.

Blake said...

Your office is rockin'! I especially would want a writer's wallclock like yours, which made me recall something my friends and I shared. We dubbed midnight "vulnerable o'clock" since, as writers, it felt like the time just elicited some of the most dramatic writing we ever churned out. Seeing those hands ticking towards "deadline" stings though.

- Blake Mitchell