New York Times’ Perverse Perspective on Writers’ Rooms

NYT writers at work photo Joyce Carol Oates 16womens-well-writers-slide-1OB8-tmagArticle


The New York Times has an unintentionally hilarious series of photos of “The Writer’s Room” – the personal spaces where five authors write their books.

Joyce Carol Oates (pictured at left) sez: “Like all writers, I have made my writing room a sanctuary of the soul.”

Geez. None of these folks seem to appreciate “creative chaos” – or – as some have termed my office – FEMA-eligible disaster sites.

I don’t trust offices that look like they are waiting for a drill sergeant’s inspection. Also, I notice a distinct lack of ammo boxes, beer bottles, and ashtrays in these writers’ offices.

Shizam –   were the offices the NYT chose to portray selected by the YMCA or the Partnership for a Drug Free America, or what?

Below is a 1990 photo (I think) when I was hacking out The Fair Trade Fraud.  The wider angle shot taken at the same time looks distinctly more……. anarchic.


(Hat tip to the patient photographer, my ex- Susanne.)


9 Responses to New York Times’ Perverse Perspective on Writers’ Rooms

  1. smitty February 18, 2014 at 5:51 am #

    I like to think a cluttered desk is indicative of an ordered mind…lol.

    Why not post that “wider angle shot”? Our curiosity has been whetted…

    If I was more than an aspiring writer, merely posting rants on others’ blogs, I might reveal a 360 degree view of the den where my SO and I have our bases of operations. If I did that she’d kill me…at least.

    • Jim February 18, 2014 at 8:42 am #

      The wider angle shot was scanned into a different computer – somewhere in my office (add melodramatic sense of foreboding with that last phrase).

      Looking again at that old photo, I get a hoot out of the Dole Banana boxes I used for storing some of my research material….. rag tag but it worked.

  2. smitty February 18, 2014 at 5:55 am #

    Hey, I just noticed…what is that critter ya got mounted up on the wall, above the calendar?

    • Jim February 18, 2014 at 8:41 am #

      That’s a Jack-a-Lope

      • The Infamous Oregon Lawhobbit February 18, 2014 at 1:25 pm #

        What’s that hanging off of your phone? Is that one o’them thar “rotary dial” teleophones like my granddaddy had???

        • Jim February 18, 2014 at 1:29 pm #

          No idea what was hanging there – maybe a price tag? It wasn’t a rotary dial – but it was something I bought in the 1980s, so…

  3. Tom Blanton February 18, 2014 at 7:19 pm #

    There appears to be a drawing of Joyce Carol Oates on her bookcase. It looks a lot like her. But, so does the clock sitting on the same bookcase. Anyway, if that room is the sanctuary of her soul, she should reconsider the reality of her existence in the world outside of that room. It kind of reminds me of “In My Room” by Brian Wilson. The Beach Boy Brian Wilson.

    Now in the other photo, there are books on the bookcase but no Underwood typewriter on the desk. How do you write books without one of those things?

    • Jim February 18, 2014 at 9:44 pm #

      Tom, you spurred me to track down & post a broader picture. J.C. Oates had a long spiel next to her photo – it seemed kinda… grim.


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