Monday, December 29, 2008

Clare Dudman: shedworker

We featured Clare Dudman's 'appearance' on Lead Balloon just before Christmas and so here is the feature on Clare which appeared in The Shed magazine 15 for those of you who missed it and wanted some more detail about her garden office:
I am a writer and I work from home. I have a perfectly good office: it is warm, quiet, with a view of the street so why should I need somewhere else? The problem with my office is it is too well-connected. It has a phone and I love talking to people. It also has broadband. Blogging, twittering, emailing: I love it all - rather too much. I needed to escape. I needed somewhere I could go to be alone with my old unconnected laptop and write.

I had the idea of a shed a few years ago but I really became inspired after I interviewed Sami Rintala in Oslo about his Boxhome - a tiny space for one person. What do we really need to live? Very little it seems to me. And yet we fill houses with stuff. I was also inspired by reading about Daphne DuMaurier in Justine Picardie's novel 'Daphne'. Even posh old Daphne DuMaurier worked in a shed - wrapped in blankets when it was cold - so why shouldn't I? In fact there seemed to be all sorts of famous writers who worked in sheds - Virginia Woolf, Roald Dahl, George Bernard Shaw. There was obviously an excellent precedent.

So one wet day in March my husband and I toured a few garden centres. This one seemed ideal. It is 8 feet by 8 feet and it had a good thick skeleton supporting its outer cladding. We elected to have treated bearings and floor and we decided to have toughened glass in case something hit the window. There are five windows altogether, the diamond leading is standard.

We stood in a Welsh garden centre and listened to rain pounding on the roof and looked around us. There is something comforting about listening to the rain in a shed. Yes, we thought. This will do. We put the shed at the side of the house which was already paved for a washing line. It is a sheltered spot and has a good view of our small garden. After it had been delivered and assembled in early in early April, we went to the DIY store for supplies: we decided on recycled polyester fleece for insulation, and fibreboard, already treated, for the lining.These were attached using brass screws and caps - attractive and functional. My husband also wired in a couple of sockets and a florescent light from an adjacent shed. The floor was varnished several times with dark oak floor varnish. I have added a mat (for added insulation), a table-like desk, a chair and a light. It works well. Not only have I already produced a chapter of a book, but I have learnt things too: birds do not sing their own songs any more, but imitate the trappings of modern life: mobile phone trills and car alarm squawks.

When I sit inside I feel like I have left everything behind, and all there is left to do is write.
You can read more about Clare and her excellent novels at www.claredudman.com and read her equally smashing blog Keeper of the Snails
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