Colour, theme, practice

I recently spent a few writing days with a visiting friend from university days. We got through our finals year by revising together, allowing ourselves 15 minutes of jigsaw puzzle assembly for every 45 minutes of bookwork – inventing the Pomodoro timed-writing technique before it was a thing. She is a professional author and is generous with sharing her years of experience. I was impressed by her IT setup and have tried to emulate it. Now, instead of hunching over the laptop keyboard fingering its touchpad and peering at its screen, I have raised the monitor on a frame and invested in a wireless keyboard and a physical mouse. Best of all, my new kneeling chair straightens my spine, whilst allowing me a comforting rocking whenever I need a bit of motion to edge the words from my brain. 

The spare room, aka my study, is at the back of the house, so I can’t see the sea from here. That’s good; I won’t be so tempted to leave the workstation for a swim if the sun breaks out. I look out on the border of willows dividing us from the neighbouring fields, or else if I turn my setup 180 degrees round, I can look along the driveway and the road to see when the postie’s coming with still more second-hand books. In my peripheral vision is a warm palette of colour, a rainbow of significance. Covering the bed is the stripey blanket my grandmother crocheted for me in the early 1960s to use up the wool left over from her knitting. It’s a hug from this loving woman, now long gone. 

And above this, dominating the room is my retirement present to myself: a watercolour painting by John Bellany, titled The Sea Maiden. Colours, patterns and symbols surround her, with the artist in a miniature self-portrait nestling under her chin. I can stare at it for hours, mulling over the meaning of the arrow, the bird feet, the candle. Under their combined gaze, stories will surely come.


  1. This is lovely, Miriam, to see and read. Your blanket reminds me of my dear mother-in-law who also made such beautiful items, although usually crocheted – born in a waste not, want not era.

  2. Sorry to be so late to this Miriam. What a lovely workspace you have! I’m glad the kneeling chair works for you. I had one for a number of years and it was great for my back, but a bit too hard on my knee joints in the end. I love that you have a blanket your grandmother made you. I used to have a sweater my gran knitted me, towards the end. I lost it in a move somewhere along the way. One sleeve was longer than the other by a good couple of inches and it was an ugly colour (she had late diagnosed glaucoma). But just like your blanket, it was a hug and I miss it.

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