Do you have a favourite place? Perhaps it’s a holiday destination that you return to again and again, or maybe a garden or park you find particularly peaceful. For me that place is my writing room. Working in a space where I feel truly comfortable really helps me be more creative.
I work in an office in the middle of Dublin’s North inner-city. It’s not the most picturesque location. It’s noisy and busy; the type of place where I can never feel fully relaxed. Each evening, I take the journey back home to Kildare and to my house, which is on a country lane that has no road markings or street lights.
The minute I get out of my car I feel the stress of the day immediately wash away. The quietness consumes me, disturbed by nothing more than bird-song and the rustling trees. I love the moment when I open my front door and know that for the next few hours at least, there’s only peace and quiet facing me.
In March 2017, that feeling of security was shattered when I had a house fire. I was in the house alone. A switch tripped, and the electricity went out. I promptly went to the fuse box to investigate.
When I think back on that day, even though there was absolutely nothing funny about it, I am always amused when I remember my first reaction was to look at the switches to see if one had indeed tripped. It took more than a couple of seconds for me to compute that the fuse box was in flames.
Thankfully, I quickly came to my senses, found my phone, called emergency services and got out of the house. I then spent the next hours standing outside, watching as the fire brigades arrived and smoke billowed out. The fire took hold at the back of the house, so I never actually saw any flames.
Hours later, when the firemen got everything under control, one of them brought me inside, up the stairs, and prepared me for what I was about to see.
I burst into tears as I looked up to the ceiling and saw the sky. A huge chunk of the roof was gone.
The following months were stressful and exhausting. We moved into rented accommodation and over the next nine months waited as the entire roof was taken off and replaced, the whole house rewired, replumbed, replastered, repainted and everything else.
The best thing that came from that experience was, in a bid to escape the stress, I sat down, came up with an idea for a book and wrote Home to Cavendish. On moving back into the house, I decided I deserved a treat and designated one of the bedrooms as my writing room.
It’s the smallest room in the house, where the ceiling slopes down, giving it a cosy feel, to a sash window, with a birds-eye view onto the tops of the trees outside. The desk was delivered to me by Santa Claus, when I was ten, as even then I knew I needed something solid to write on. The room is full of books and when I tire of writing, I have a comfy armchair where I can sit back and ‘work’. Reading is part of a writer’s work, you know!
This is my safe place and I feel lucky to have such a room to escape to. I would love to hear if you have a favourite place where you go to escape from the world too?