a writer’s room

Writers’ Rooms used to be a weekly column on the Guardian book page: a photograph of a writer’s room and a few paragraphs from the writer about the room and his or her writing routine. I think I was more envious of the lifestyle of the writer—imagine being able to spend all day every day devoted to writing!—than the rooms themselves; I prefer to think I’m like Diana Athill, who said in her memoir Somewhere Towards the End that becoming a writer had made her less materialistic and all she really needed was a place to sit and something to write with. Having said that, I’ve been pretty lucky with my own writer’s rooms over the years.

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When I first started writing, in about 2003, I lived in this tiny tatami room in Tokyo, no running hot water, squat toilet, and no bathroom (I went to the sento, the bathhouse, every day for five years!)

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Then my fortunes changed. I got a new job—still in Tokyo—and moved up in the world. I acquired not one, but two writer’s rooms: one was the lovely cosy kitchen of my new apartment in Co’ Co Heights, and the other the lovely cosy tatami room in the weekend beach house I rented from my friends Greg and Maki.

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And now, living in colonial decadence in my vast Borneo bungalow, I’ve converted the little pink room off the kitchen into a writer’s room with a view of banana trees, coconut palms, exotic birds, and the occasional monkey. If only the Guardian still did the column and I was a famous author! My tropical writer’s room would beat Philip Hensher’s couch any day. (I said I wasn’t materialistic. But I never said I wasn’t competitive.)

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