Will Come the Words: author Catherine Gildiner’s creative spaces

Here’s the series Introduction.



CATHERINE GILDINER lives and writes in Toronto and Creemore, Ontario, Canada.

What I like about my creative spaces

Would you rather be touring the Musée d’Orsay in Paris or having a piña colada on a beach in Jamaica, or be in your home office? Well, my answer is — my office. I am never as happy anywhere in the world as I am there. It is on the third floor of a big old rambling home in Toronto’s Annex. Now that my three boys and nanny have left home, I have the whole floor to myself. I can read my own sentences aloud and no one ever says, “That one’s a clunker” — because no one is there.

The house has such high ceilings that on the third floor I am in my own eyrie. My desk is in a corner and right in front of me is a window where I look out at the top of huge maple trees where squirrels scamper like acrobats in Cirque du Soleil.

I have two desks arranged in a U so that when I am working on a novel or memoir, I can spread out, but then when I turn to journalism I have a completely different desk for short-term thinking.

Another feature I like is that I can be organized. No one ever messes up my stuff. I have tons of bookshelves where I arrange all my fiction by author, all my nonfiction by subject. Whenever the world seems to be moving too quickly or I feel chaotic within my head, I am relieved to have everything in my office, down to the pencils and pens, organized.

My study is gabled and under one gable is a couch so I can rest if I want from two to three p.m. If I go downstairs I lose the plot, so I just step over a few feet for a snooze.

Once in while my husband is on vacation and works from home on God-knows-what in his office on the second floor. He has not been to the third floor since the children left home seventeen years ago. This is the God’s honest truth. Once he said, “You should fix up the nanny’s room and bath so it’s more convenient.” I said, “I renovated that eight years ago.”

When he is home and in his second-floor office, he emails me and says things like, “If you get tea, and happen to pass my office, will you drop one off?” or “Want to go to the pub for dinner?” He would never think of coming up.

Once in a while my husband has a brief flurry of dire economic forecasting and tries to get me to sell the house, which would, of course, mean losing my office. He says sensible things, such as our three 6’ 6” sons are gone — why do we need a six-bedroom house? About twice a year he goes on an all-out campaign to buy a condo. This sends me into orbit and I shake in a corner of my beloved office. He says, “I will be retired and then in our condo we can share an office.” Most writers, and anyone who creates to make a living, will appreciate my sheer horror at the thought of sharing an office. Maybe I’m an only child brat with A.D.D., as he often suggests, but when he brings up this idea, I see my face as a Roz Chast cartoon, smoke coming out my ears.

I actually have another study at our farm in Creemore, Ontario. It is much smaller and less loved than my office in the city, but again my desk is at the window.

I can see the farmer reaping the wheat and the cows rolling their eyes at each other when the bull approaches. This winter I saw the snow cover fully the downstairs windows. We are on top of the Niagara Escarpment and the wind is fierce and rattles the windows. Sometimes they actually bow. The changes of season witnessed from that window have all made it into my books in one bucolic scene or another. I notice that when I am at the farm I write many more outdoor scenes than I do in the city.

Once there were turkeys just under my window and when I called my agent to tell him something about the money I was not making, I said, “I am looking at turkeys as we speak.” He said, “Oh, I know, the whole world is full of them. I deal with them every day.” He, like my husband, just didn’t get it.

My favourite writing quote

“A diamond is just a lump of coal that stuck to its job” ~ Malcolm Forbes

My creative spaces online

Gildiner’s Gospel



And take a peek into more writers’ creative spaces here.


Enter your email address to receive Allyson’s posts:Delivered by FeedBurner

Leave a Comment