31 January 2012

Garret Tour Tuesday: Bess Weatherby

Meet Bess Weatherby.

Bess introduces herself best:
"I'm a New York nanny and closet-novelist. No seriously. I live in a closet. My life is extremely fancy."
She is not kidding: about the closet OR the novel. Bess completed her novel in October.

Bess says that since she moved to New York City, she finds that she tends to "channel her inner hobbit" in terms of writing space. But what does it mean to channel one's inner hobbit? Hint: we are not looking for furry feet or an obsession with third breakfast.
"Three words. Small. Confined. Spaces. Either my room, which is, in fact, the closet underneath the stairs, or a writing office-space near my house." 
Novels from the desk of Bess Weatherby, the closet under the stairs, New York City, NY.
[Ed -- Oh come ON, it even looks magical!]

Too freaking adorable. Wall-mounted clipboards? Yes please!
And check out that gorgeous cut-out chair back.
Although Bess completed her novel in her Harry Potter Closet, she recently joined a writer's office. As far as I can tell, this is something between a co-op and a subscription-plan office situation.
"Every city should have one of these, if only so that its writers can awkardly socialize. To become a member, you have to apply, even get reccomendations saying that you are quiet, unobtrusive and only inwardly neurotic."
So now Bess writes in the closet under the stairs on nights and weekends and writes at the office "every weekday from 10:00-2:30" and is great for times, she says, "when I want to pretend I have a real job."
"It has two rooms; a kitchen/lounge where you can eat, talk and write, then a "Writing Room," which is sound-proofed and filled with cubicles. Not even a cell phone ding or cry of agony is tolerated in there. Seriously. You get weird looks for sneezing. But with the silence you can get great work done. And there is free coffee, internet and printing! It's like a Starbucks without the swinging door and hipsters. What could be better?" [Ed -- Bess does not like the hipsters. Possibly NYC hipsters are worse than other hipsters? I will have to investigate.]
Interestingly enough, the switch to the writers' office has affected Bess's food and drink habits.
"This anecdote ought to make Pavlov scream from his grave.

Since the writer's office has free coffee, I stopped buying it. Now I can only get coffee if I go to the office. This is generally incentive enough to get me out of bed and out the door. However, the fact that I now only drink coffee while writing has inextricably linked the two in my mind. I *can* write without coffee, but I really dislike it. Aversely, because eating is forbidden in the writing room, I feel guilty when I eat while writing. So I don't. Ever. This has led to many dinner-less nights. Worth it, methinks. Now I can truly call myself a starving artist."
So no third breakfast for this New York hobbit. But plenty of tiny spaces and lots of coffee!

In conclusion, Bess Weatherby is a bit of a writer-recluse -- or as much as you can be a Bilbo Baggins in a city the size of New York City. She keeps a rigid weekday schedule in addition to writing at other times of day depending on availability. (She does have nannying duties to attend, after all.) Bess often writes in the company of other writers in a writers' office of shared space, although there is strict silence in the cubicles.

You can find Bess at her blog It's the world, dear where she posts decently frequently, mostly about her writing life and sometimes about her young charges, pseudonyms Boots and Bitty.

Now You!
I have to admit, I am mad-jealous of Bess's office. Being also a bit of a writer-recluse who enjoys non-distracting human presence, the office situation sounds pretty ideal. [This is probably why I write at Starbucks so many evenings.] What do you think of the writers' office situation? Would you participate in a writers' office if there was one in your city?