When I write, I like to feel as zen as possible. Today, it’s raining. There is something about the dim light and soft patter of a rainy day that triggers the ASMR (Autonomous sensory meridian response) in me. It helps me to relax. From my writing desk, I can watch the rain splash and trickle against the leaves of the dogwood tree in my front yard. It’s only 50 degrees (Fahrenheit) today, but I have the windows open and a cool breeze flows through my bedroom, carrying the scent of dirt, rain, and atmosphere.
I also have a small hummingbird feeder hanging just outside my window. There’s something about hearing the hum of their wings and the sweet chirps of excitement they make that always gives me a little thrill. My cats, of course, love the occasional visit as well. They are always alert when they hear that familiar buzz, and usually, run to the window to watch with wide eyes and wiggling butts.
I write in my bedroom, in a cozy little corner in the large space. I have a window right beside me, and a bookshelf on the other side of me. On my desk, I have a collection of items that inspire me and help me on my creative journey.
When it’s time to sit down to work, I have a routine. This may change for later works, but for The Daffodil Witch, I have specific sources of inspiration; a routine. I boot up my trusty old laptop, open up Scrivener, then settle into my seat.
I light incense while I write. I love incense, Sandalwood being my favorite. Sometimes, I’ll burn scented candles instead. I turn on my elephant lamp, and the glow of the fairy lights over my bed and the soft light of the lamp is just enough to make me feel secluded like I’m alone in the world and have all the time I need to let inspiration flow.
I listen to music, as well. I can’t listen to anything with -lyrics, or it will distract me. I like to find 1 to 10-hour videos on YouTube with some kind of spa, or relaxing Celtic music. My favorite for writing The Daffodil Witch has been a beautiful Celtic melody created by the talented musician Peder B. Helland. He has tons of different options on his YouTube page, Soothing Relaxation. The one that I go to most is the three-hour melody here:
This is how I create my perfect zen zone to write in, how I enter another world where I can experience magic and intrigue from the safety of my bedroom (usually with one or more cat vying for my attention in my lap). If I find myself suffering from writer’s block, I spend my time doing research, re-reading, editing and planning. There is never a shortage of things to work on.
So, what do I keep on my desk to help inspire me? (Aside from a lot of elephants, that is…) I’ll show you! 🙂 Everything I keep on my desk has a purpose. The second monitor and phone are entirely work-related. I am fortunate enough to work from home certain days of the week, and I do it here at my writing desk.
Here is my daffodil! I can’t keep real daffodils in the house since they’re very poisonous and my cats are very curious. I found this adorable little silk plant shopping once at JoAnn Fabric’s and had to buy it. It sat in my kitchen until I purchased this desk. I keep my jewelry holder here because I hate to type with my rings on, but would hate even more to lose them. I think the plaque should speak for itself. 😉
My map! My map should be obvious as well. This was drawn for me by the fantastically talented Felix Avenier. She is doing all the artwork for The Daffodil Witch. You’ll see me posting about her and her artwork a lot on here. I’ll definitely be making a blog post each time she sends m a finished piece! At the moment, she is working on Victorian-style color portraits of Oliver and the Wizard Beaumont. Definitely go check out her website. (NSFW!)
What writer’s desk would be complete without a collection of books? Now, I have quite a few bookshelves in my house. In my living room, I have a six-foot-tall bookcase on either side of my entertainment center filled with books. In my bedroom, just beside my desk, I have another shelf stuffed to the brim with books, graphic novels, light novels, magazines, art books and audiobooks from before Audible existed!
On my desk, I keep a special selection of books. These are books that specifically inspire me as a writer, or specifically inspire The Daffodil Witch.
So, why these books? Here’s why:
- Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
Dickens was a popular novelist in the Victorian era. His books are referenced frequently in The Daffodil Witch and it is suggested by the wizard that Oliver likely got his name from this popular title. Finley is also a fan of Dickens in the book and is often seen reading the Pickwick Papers in Oliver’s room while he studies.
- Howl’s Moving Castle by Dianna Wynne Jones
This book was the original source that inspired me to write The Daffodil Witch. The idea originally came from a conversation with my friend Juli. How cool would it be to see a queer version of Howl’s Moving Castle? We both love the Ghibli version of the movie, and I am an avid fan of the book itself. It’s a frequent re-read for me. Then, the conversation turned into a back and forth of ideas. I had forgotten about the conversation, to be honest. It was a few years ago–two or three, I believe? One day, I got the sudden urge to write and this was the idea that came pouring out of me.
- Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Jane Austen is the ultimate inspiration for me and always has been. I have been obsessed with her, her novels, and her wit since I was a child. Pride and Prejudice, naturally, is my favorite of her books. In a way, the romance between Oliver and the Wizard Beaumont are very similar to Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy’s relationship–the push and pull, the immediate rejection of one another, the series of misunderstandings. It’s my dream to be considered somewhat of a modern version of Austen.
- It Was the Best of Sentences, It was the Worst of Sentences by June Casagrande
This book was recommended to me by my friend Marcus, who I had mentioned before in my Happy Pride Month post. I had mentioned that I was having trouble with passive voice, as this book has been my first visit back to the writing world in more than eight years. I was slipping and my usually precise grammar was weaker than it had been. He recommended this book to me, and I have found it very helpful!
- September Moon by Candice Proctor
This book was my first ever romance novel. My dear friend Hillary found it on her mother’s bookshelf when we were about eleven, I believe. She read it, told me all about it and then loaned it to me. I have re-read it a few times as an adult and still enjoy it every time!
- Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
This is here for much the same reason Pride and Prejudice is. It is another of my very early books and early favorites. Heathcliff has always been a favorite character of mine. With this book, I fell in love with the trope of the tortured soul.
- Murder Takes the High Road by Josh Lanyon
Let me preface this by saying that Josh Lanyon is an author I only discovered around Christmas time 2017–about six or seven months ago. When I discovered her books through the Romance Package on Audible after reading up all of the available books by K.J. Charles (another favorite author of mine!) I quickly became hooked. It surprised me. I had never been a huge fan of contemporary books (as evident by my collection here and my Goodreads account!) but something about her writing made me fall utterly in love with every book she wrote. I started out with the Adrien English Mystery Series (please go read these, they are absolutely fantastic!) and quickly snowballed. Not only did I fall in love with her and Charles’ books, but reading them made me realize that there was a market for what I wanted to write, and inspired me to finally sit down and do what I had always wanted to do–write a book. In April, I had the opportunity to send Josh my first three chapters for her to read and offer feedback. This opportunity, for me, was huge. Murder Takes the High Road came out a few weeks before she sent back her (very encouraging and very helpful, thank you Josh!!) feedback. I remember waking up at 6:00 AM on a trip to Disney World with my family to find the audiobook had been released. Naturally, I downloaded it immediately and enjoyed it thoroughly while on my trip. Shortly after I got home, I found this book and another of hers in my mailbox (as a Patron of hers on Patreon, I get signed copies of newly released books!) This book arrived with a special note inside along with her autograph.
- The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien
This one really needs no explanation. Tolkien remains a source of inspiration for all fantasy writers, but this book, in particular, was one of my favorites as a child. It was my first venture into true High Fantasy and I have always felt a strong connection to Bilbo Baggins–in many ways.
And there you have it! I hope you enjoyed your little journey into my world and my creative process. I hope this wasn’t a boring post. What’s your creative process? Do you listen to music? Do you have recommendations for me for books to read, music to listen to? Let me know!