Seek Inspiration in Unusual Places

I happened to find myself accompanying someone to an office, and decided to spend my time writing while I sat and waited. Not only did it give me something to do, but it also helped me think outside of my normal areas of inspiration.

Here is what I wrote that day:


The air conditioning worked double-time to keep the room at a subarctic temperature, and the frigid air blew directly at the couch where I sat. It was a squashy, red pleather sofa, and it wasn’t necessarily too tall as I was too short to put my feet on the ground when sitting all the way back. 

There was only one painting hung on the wall, and the colors on the canvas were a reflection of the couch and walls. Three of the walls in the office were a pale yellow that matched the odd, contemporary building in the picture. The fourth wall was the color of azurite, and it was a toss-up whether it matched a view of the sky or a body of water just beyond the building in the picture. The rest of the art had a bold stripe of red on the right side that correlated with the couch, but didn’t seem to play any particular role in the picture. Just one of those paintings you picked up because it matched the decor and not because it had any particular meaning, I guessed.

The reddish-mahogany frame of the painting complemented the desk, which took up almost a quarter of the room and sat in the corner right across from the door. It was in the shape of a half square, and looked as though it may have been two separate, matching pieces. 

Aside from the painting the rest of the walls were bare, and lent credibility to the woman’s story of having just moved into the office. The other clue was all the boxes stuffed in the available spaces beneath her desk. A few personal touches dotted said desk: cards, a small award made of glass, and a picture that was difficult to discern from my place on the couch. The rest of the desk held functional work items: papers, filing systems, a printer, and a laptop that exhibited a flair of her personality by being a neon violet. 

She sat at a table of smooth, real wood–none of the pressed, fake wood here. Its stain was light and appeared slightly aged, with metal bits nailed onto the corners as accent pieces. The legs of the table were a  dark brown, almost black, metal, and I imagined that at least one person a day would smart their shins when they sat down. 

The six chairs at the table had the only contrasting color in the room–a grey fiber with buttons pressed into the backs. They had no arms, which wasn’t a problem for me as I tend to speak with my hands, and the legs of them were black. 

The only hint toward the woman’s profession stood toward the ‘back’ of the table–a set of scales. They were in the center of the table until everyone say down, which was when she had to move them so everyone could see each other. 

The most interesting piece of furniture, by far, was a hutch with a multitude of drawers, and it sat in a sort of extra corner of the room. The wood was a medium brown between the darker color of the desk, and the lighter one of the table. The largest drawers on the bottom were three up and two across, with a smaller section up top that allowed for a small shelf. The top portion had many tiny, rectangular drawers, twenty-one in fact, and they sat on top of four small, square drawers. 

The drawers on the bottom had old burnished metal handles, and the drawers above used small, tongue-type handles that you’d hook your finger under and pull to open. The wood was dinged and scratched in places that suggested consistent use, but not necessarily neglect. 

When the woman took something from the drawers she unconsciously ran her hand, almost lovingly, over the wood. I imagined it must have been a pain getting it into the office, but it clearly held fond memories that made the effort worthwhile. 

Atop the hutch sat two silver birds, an antique, stained glass lamp that couldn’t have been more than six- or seven-inches tall–more pretty than functional. There was also a glass plate with horizontal stripes of various blues, greens, and one stripe of cream, that sat in a curled metal holder. The final piece was on the shelf above the bigger drawers, and it was a flowery, metal business card holder. 

The convenience of the office location in relation to her home made her enjoy the space, though she’d stated that beyond that the just was still out on whether she truly liked it–pun intended. The joke made her and me smile briefly before she continued to work. 

As I’d walked up earlier I’d seen her through the window just prior to knocking. She’d kicked her shoes off beneath the desk, and was moving them restlessly across the computer mat and the purplish Berber carpet, whose highlights complemented the couch.

Her job involved more sitting down than anything, and her desk/computer chair reflected that. It had the rolling wheels, hence the computer mat, and looked to be comfortable and made of black pleather. 

Well that was all I got before we had to leave, and even though it doesn’t hold any story, plot, or point, world-building is something we have to practice at, as well! Sometimes how a writer describes a place can make all the difference in how well a person connects with a scene.