Writers' Rooms: Siri Hustvedt

American writer Siri Hustvedt talks about her study at home in Brooklyn, New York
Siri Hustvedt's writing desk. Photograph: Eamonn McCabe
A room to write in isn't like other rooms, because most of the time the person in it doesn't see it. My attention is on the page in front of me, on what the people in the book are doing or saying, and my awareness of the things near me is muted, part of the vague sensual information that comes and goes as I mull over the next sentence. I do feel the light in my room, however. My study is on the top floor of our house, which has four storeys, and the windows face south, so the sunshine streams through the panes, and even on a bleak winter day my workplace is luminous.

I usually sit down at my desk around eight o'clock in the morning and write until my brain begins to dim - around two o'clock. My morning mind is far better than the blearier one that arrives in the afternoon so I take advantage of the early hours. I have lots of reference books near me, various kinds of dictionaries - bilingual, medical and psychiatric, 34 volumes of the Grove Dictionary of Art, style manuals and handbooks, the Bible, Gray's Anatomy, some poetry anthologies, and when I'm deep in a project there are often piles of books on the floor to which I refer when needed. [Read the article]

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