A Room of My Own: Ruth Long

Yes, because her fan club continues to clamor I will now feature Ruth Long, aka Mortuary Mama, the Lady Bullish herself!

Ruth has her own well-regarded writing website. A poet and flash fictionista, she agreed to be featured on A Room of My Own.

Q: Please describe your space, including any features that make it special to you.

A: My writing space is a vintage roll top desk in my bed-bath suite on the second level of my son’s three-level rambling old house, a dwelling we affectionately call ‘The Mystery Mansion’ in reference to an episode of Scooby-Doo. When they moved into the house last year, my son and dtr-in-law took one look at the built-in bookshelves and called to tell me to start packing because my dream room awaited!

Cool Architectural Features: wood grain paneled walls; three big windows with diamond insets; an entire wall of built-in bookshelves.

Cool Atmospheric Features: Very often, when I’m working on a story or blog post, my little twin bed is presto-chango transformed into a couch or tent and filled with a combination of grandchildren (3) and dogs (3), the tv is tractor-beamed onto the Disney channel and the nearest bookshelf is strewn with baby bottles, sippy cups, cheerios, diapers and otter-pop wrappers.

**It’s said that Louis L’Amour, the legendary Western storyteller, could write anywhere: on the back of a horse or on the median in Times Square in New York City. I figure that having a cat-napping dog in my lap and an episode of Toddlers Gone Wild carrying on behind me as I write, shows that I’m striving for that same level of dedication and professionalism! Well, that or I’m 51/50!

Q: What is your favorite/most inspiring object in this room?

Desk – This was a gift from a childhood friend. It belonged to his mother and when it was passed down to him, he immediately bequeathed it to me. I love all the little cubbies and drawers and often curl up in my chair and just admire the loveliness of it and dream that I will one day become worthy of it!

Bookshelves – As a book addict, having a place to display my entire personal library is nothing short of magical. The self across from the gray printer on top of the desk is writing references. The shelf above it is classic literature. The one above that is poetry. The one above that (not pictured) spans the length of the wall and is filled with general fiction. The left side of the shelf has rows for sci-fi and fantasy, mystery, adventure and series. The shelves under the window are for topical collections like humor, gardening and children’s books, and the bottommost shelf is for magazines and spiral bound collected articles about the writing craft.

Q: What rituals do you go thru when you want to write in this space?

I think of writing like a love relationship, so I have various writing rituals.

For example, because I hear language as music (you can read more about this here: http://www.siriuspress.com/studio/2012/04/confessions-of-a-rogue-ink-slinger/), reading out loud is essential to my writing process/ritual.

Nine-To-Five Grind – Sit down and write, just slog it out regardless of the pile of unfolded laundry beside the laptop or the trail of skittles, cheese-its and teething cookies scattered across the desktop or the chewed up sandal under the desk that puppy demolished. This is my no frills, balls-to-the-wall, write or die, where the bones of stories and posts are thrown up, jotted down and filed under ‘take that, blank page.’ Don’t misunderstand this process, though, because it’s not as joyless as it sounds. You can be sure there are hijinks and goofiness going on, because that’s just part of who I am, but it’s a more restrained take. This is my serious, disciplined, take-no-prisoners side.

Lunch Dates: I started keeping a writer’s notebook http://www.bullishink.com/2012/01/12/notebook-initiative/ in January of 2010 and although it’s nowhere near as splendid as Woolf’s glorious journals, the three volumes (one for each year) are a fairly telling look into my writer’s psyche. I have a strict layout for the simple reason that I need them to be searchable, but the content is quite eclectic – books, movies, music, people, library runs – whatever influences my writing life goes into the pages as well as completed blog posts, flash fiction and short stories (novels get their own journal). When I settle in to journal, I usually have music playing, popcorn and pepsi on the desk and my feet curled up in the chair or propped up on the desk. This is me at my most mellow. Happy. Relaxed. Pleased as fruit punch. This is me at the beach in cutoffs with my toes in the sand and an umbrella drink in my hand.

Weekending – (1) Brainstorming: Lay out necessary reference books and research material and enjoy the exact placement of each item. Love to have everything spread out and just waiting for me to make use of it! Take notes, play connect-the-story-dots and free write. This is my psychotically systematic self and it’s a terribly blissful experience. (2) Editing. I abhor red pens so I edit in blue. I print out the story, grab my trusty pilot-g2-finetip and do a read through at the desk. Make changes. Print fresh copy, grab pen and walk the room as I read out loud. Press copy against bumpy walls or door to make changes. Sit down and make changes. Continue reading out loud until my ears are happy. Much as I love writing, I love editing because I get to sharpen and spit-polish the piece with every new pass. This is my delighted, precocious, frenetically creative self at its happiest arc.

Behind Closed Doors – Set the mood. Put fresh flowers on the desk. Turn on some music, whatever feels right at the moment. Open the windows so there is a breeze in the room and the sheer white curtains flutter. Light a favorite candle, either a scent called Monkeyfart (!), a delicious blend of tangerine and bubblegum, or Lovespell, which is an elegant floral blend, deep and rich and enchanting. Conjure the words and let them enchant me. Some lovely things are wrought here, but these sessions are not so much about producing content as they are about nurturing my love relationship with words and language and storytelling. I mean, come on! Have you ever seen an adverb in silk boxers or a pronoun in a sheer negligée? This is my “Hey baby, is that a dangling participle or are you just happy to see me?!’ side. Yeah, yeah, I know. I’m a seething hotbed of silliness.

Thanks to Ruth for sharing her Room with us. Want to share your Room? Email me at annabbps AT gmail.com with a photo and answer the above questions.

Keep an eye on this space for more writers/artists and their inspirational spaces!

See the spaces of other creatives in “A Room of My Own”!

* Lillie McFerrin

* Daniel Swensen

* Angela Goff

* Angie Richmond


13 thoughts on “A Room of My Own: Ruth Long”

  1. I thought I was the only person who walked around the room reading the stuff outloud! THAT is so awesome! LOVE the desk…lovelovelovelove the book shelves. SIGH.

    1. And here I thought I was the lone read-out-louder!! Happy to be in such cool company!! Yeah, I realize I’m spoiled by the desk and shelves!! Don’t know if I could do without them now!! Thanks so much for stopping by, Bliss!! 🙂

    1. Thank you, Lisa!! Having my library beside my desk is sweet writing nirvana!! I love to read out loud and to be read to – and it’s such a big part of my writing process!! I read everything aloud before posting it!! So glad you dropped by!! 🙂

  2. Your workspace is so infinitely tidier more organized than mine, Ruth. But I need a measure of chaos, I guess. It’s disorder that motivates me to create & inform something new — Francis Bacon was that way, too, his studio was a mess. He needed it to be so.

    Amid the chaos, however, there is an emerging pattern that only my subconscious brain understands, and I can find anything I want in here. So I guess my den only *looks* disorganized. I too enjoy the exact placement of items after all.

    Except I tidy up like a crazed gerbil on diet pills.

  3. So pleased we were able to lure you over here, JM!! I could have included a photo of the cheerio and laundry strewn desk but my mama would have had fits!! I know what you mean about being able to find what you need in the middle of paper chaos!! Must be our internal Writer’s GPS kicking in!! 🙂

  4. Look at all of those books! How wonderful! That will get the inspiration going right there. I have these stacks of books all around my desk, on the floor etc. As well as papers, cds, notes. I always have a glass of water nearby too 🙂


    1. Yes, Andrea, just seeing them on the shelf is an amazing thing! I see my favorites and my references and feel that they are cheering me on. One more sentence. One less adverb. Whole new worlds are at my fingertips while a universe of imagination cheers me on from those shelves!! 🙂

    1. Thanks, Meg!! The bottom drawers of the desk are actually file drawers and I keep hard copies of my manuscripts and notes in there. I can’t tell you how soothing it is to my mind to know that all my characters and stories are in one place – and all just an arm’s length away!! 🙂

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