At My Writing Desk – J S McGowan

We are delighted to welcome J S McGowan to our At My Writing Desk feature. I think many of us will identify with his reflections on different settings in which to write in the piece below though perhaps not so many of us have a stunning view from our windows as we write (mine takes in back courts and dustbins)! You can read more about his book Lael here.


As I am writing this I am sitting with my laptop on my knee, sitting very close to a window – my favoured position. I have no desk as such – any notes, booklets or notebooks of sundry information are stored in containers that look like very large books and they are stacked on a bookshelf below the windowsill.     I have a fantastic view from my window, I can see right down the coastline of the inner Moray Firth and the hills beyond. The farthest part of land that I can see has a lighthouse on it and that marks the place where I was born and spent a fair part of my life. It was here I started writing short stories for my young brothers and much later for my two daughters. These stories nearly always featured fairies, elves and goblins. The woods, beaches and cliffs that surrounded where we lived were atmospheric haunts for the mystical creatures that I wrote about.

    Many a time I have gazed across the waters of my life and felt that past and present had merged, the first time I felt it I was stimulated to write my first book. I did not publish it but it did give incentive to write the one that has been published.
    In sharp contrast to the reflective solitude of my window I can also write amidst the hustle and bustle of airport lounges, oilrig cabins and trains. Cafes are great places to write in and like the fore mentioned areas I get an awareness of human energy as the flow of life streams around me.
    It took years to write the book entitled ‘Lael’ – the reason it took so long was that I kept getting distracted, I described myself as a person who writes as opposed to ‘a writer’. When I eventually finished the book and had the proof copy in my hand – I became a writer!
    I absolutely loved creating the characters and seeing them evolve as the book progressed; I also had to create two make-believe worlds and that was fun. After the euphoria of finishing the book and seeing it lying on my windowsill I felt a bit empty, as if I had lost a constant friend——-so I had to begin a follow up.


© J S McGowan 2017

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