Grateful for this great writing space

My child, listen to me and do as I say,
    and you will have a long, good life.
 I will teach you wisdom’s ways
    and lead you in straight paths.
 When you walk, you won’t be held back;
    when you run, you won’t stumble.
 Take hold of my instructions; don’t let them go.
    Guard them, for they are the key to life.

Proverbs 4:10-13

A few weeks ago I promised a “tour” of my study – once completed, featuring the newly reorganized space plus a few targeted points of interest. I am happy to say that this project, part one of the post-retirement redesign here at Maul-Hall, is close to completion. It will be interesting to see how well I stay on top of the challenge, moving forward.

First, the layout:

With my bookcases reduced from five to two, I had to make choices when it came to books. So I asked myself hard questions such as:

  • Will I ever read this again?
  • Is this volume an important “go back to” resource?
  • Does the presence of this book in my library help to define me as a writer/Christian thinker?
  • Is this “classic” literature that will stand the test of time?
  • Does this include any of my own writing?
  • Is my emotional tie to this book important enough to keep it – even if it is essentially a museum piece?

In consequence, I am donating over half my collection. I enjoyed Max Lucado’s work, for example, but I won’t re-read his books. Philip Yancey, on the other hand, is an author I go back to often.

Likewise, all my reference material (Bible encyclopedias, thesaurus, a couple of dictionaries, and my Bibles – NIV, NRSV, CEB, Good News, Serendipity, KJV, The Message) are absolutely keepers.

All the travel books and reference materials are staying. Plus all my C.C. Lewis, Tolkien, Hemingway, and Dickens. I am keeping my history texts, too.

– Here is the other bookcase. As you can tell, there is still ample space to play with
Desk Top:

My desk top, I have discovered, absolutely needs to be clear if I am going to write with any clarity. Yes, there is a direct connection between the disorganized state of my desk and the sometimes disorganized presentation of my ideas. “Chicken?” “Egg?” Could be both – it remains to be seen.

Regardless, I am simply a better writer when I can see the surface of my desk and lay things out in front of me.

A few items of interest:

I have added descriptions to all the photos, below, but here are a couple of items I believe you may well find interesting.

The black and red hat was standard issue for the school I attended from 1967-1974. The cap, along with uniform blazer and tie, contributed to the venerable institution’s (The Harvey Grammar School, founded in 1674) distinct Masterpiece Theater ethos. Unfortunately I did not – another story – make good use of the elite education I was offered, but I did excel at cricket, soccer, field hockey, and track.

One short cricket anecdote is that the scoring record I set playing cricket lasted more than a generation before it was bettered. We were cricket champions of Southeast England, and I still can’t imagine a better way to spend a lazy summer’s day than on a village green, dressed in cricket whites, standing in the cool English sunshine while playing a game that takes a break at 4:00 for a cup of tea and cream scones.

I found my St. Francis right where he was made in Assisi, November of 2011. Andrew was showing me around Umbria, and we lit a candle for my brother Geoff in the crypt of the Basilica of St. Francis. Geoff, who would succumb to his cancer just four months later, loved symbolism; so my St. Francis came home to Florida to tell my brother the story himself.


I have always done a better job with my writing when I am connected to my own stories via a space that speaks to me. Sure, I could write anywhere, but this study is replete, full and ripe with the stories that saturate my personal items.

– grateful for a great writing space

I hope I haven’t pared my collections beyond the reasonable. Because it is always from the edges of my stories, the periphery of my experience, that the wonder seems to come, to speak to me, and to inhabit the words as they flow through my fingers and on to the screen.

I hope you enjoy the pictures. Ask me about anything that interests you, and I will try to explain.

Peace – and Good Story – DEREK

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