Back to Work

Can you believe it’s been almost two whole weeks since I blogged? I think that might be one of my longest gaps ever. It was a little bit down to the fact that I’ve been a bit busy (moving into a new place, filling in at the very last minute at the Irish Writers’ Centre e-book course last Saturday, preparing for London this weekend…) but it’s a big bit down to the absolute nightmare I’ve had getting broadband installed here and the fact that there’s only so much you can do on your phone.

But the magical internet is here now so—at last!—normal service can resume.


I thought I’d ease myself back into blogging by showing you a picture of my new workspace, which I spent much of yesterday afternoon organizing. (I know it doesn’t look like much but it was a complete mess of boxes, papers, etc. this time yesterday.)

  1. My tiny desk that can’t actually take much clutter, forcing nearly all paper, stationery items, office accessories, partially used Paperchase notebooks, etc. into boxes in the bedroom wardrobes.
  2. The Nespresso machine. Note the proximity.
  3. Reminders that I need to get my arse into gear and words on the virtual page, and that if I don’t no one else is going to do it for me (unfortunately). Also, how cute are these mini-clipboards?! Target.
  4. An old noticeboard that I made look nice again by filling entirely with a piece of Penguin Books wrapping paper.
  5. A dainty pink cup and saucer I bought yesterday because (a) it was so cute I couldn’t stand it and (b) it looks almost exactly like the cup and saucer in my header photo.
  6. Photos to remind me of The Outside World which I probably won’t see a lot of this summer in my bid to Finish The Damn Novel.

I’ve worked in quite messy spaces before and was always jealous when I saw other writers working in pristine, neat, minimalist places, so I’ve gone for less here rather than more. (I give it a week before there’s a Post-It explosion.) Now that I’m living alone and am imposing a no-online-stuff-until-noon rule, The Novel might actually get finished this summer.


We’ll see.

So here’s something else I’m thinking of doing now that I have the peace, quiet and place to do it: a video blog. What do you think? If you think it’s a good idea, generate some material for me: ask a question! What questions (self-publishing related, please!) would you like me to answer in a video blog? It’s fine if you fear it might’ve been asked and answered before, because as long as it wasn’t in a video blog it’s fine, and this would be the first one so that would be impossible.

Let me know in the comments below, or use the Contact page to submit yours.

29 thoughts on “Back to Work

  1. Fred Henney says:

    Best luck ever on getting your novel finished. My wife’s first novel is finished but I need to proof it a half dozen times (pretending it’s a student’s attempt so I can catch all the errors, I hope). Going through MSWord’s hidden formatting is a real pain but is really helpful. Your office looks really neat. My wife won’t even look in my messy office!

  2. beautifulorange says:

    Welcome back! And love the pic of your workspace… it looks lovely (and handily close to the kitchen for distracting snacks)… I may have to copy that and post a photo of mine too! And a video blog? Hell yeah!

  3. Glynis Smy says:

    I am downsizing home when we return to the UK, and I want your working space! I have my precious Nespresso machine nearby, too! I love your cute table. I NEED to be tidier when in a smaller home. 🙂

  4. Kim says:

    Count me as a yay vote for the vlog. Cause 1) you are kind of adorable – I’m sure that will translate well to the interwebs, and 2) why the hell not? (see reason 1).

  5. Mel Stratten says:

    Fab work space – I must admit I did try a small desk at one point but, unfortunately, it was much the same as my trying to use a smaller handbag – I still tried to cram as much onto the small desk and the piles of stuff got higher and higher until the desk collapsed so I’ve now gone back to a desk the size of a small football field – maybe I’m just not dainty enough!

  6. Debbie Young says:

    Inspiring, Catherine! It’s amazing the impact a bit of new stationery and some tidying can have on one’s productivity! 😉 And if all else fails, buy another Paperchase notebook – SO much more upmarket than my fine collection of spiral bound notebooks, each with a different fancy cover, from The Works (not sure whether that remainder bookshop has branches in Eire?)
    All you’re missing now is a framed cover of Virginia Woolf’s “A Room on One’s Own” 🙂

  7. Nancy Evans Bush says:

    You’ll have to count me as a nay vote on the vlog–not because you aren’t adorable and interesting, but because video takes too much time. Joel Friedman lost me when he went to video. I can skim text, can’t skim video, and almost always delete them without looking. Sorry.

  8. sequins and cherry blossom says:

    Welcome back! I’m a no on the vlog too. You have to think where people might be when they visit your page – at work, watching TV with other people, in the middle of the night when they can’t sleep, and lots of other times and places where sound is disturbing. Sorry.

  9. James F. Brown says:


    Contrary to what some others have posted, I say go for the video blogs. But be sure to get your own YouTube page and post your vlogs to YT on a regularly scheduled basis. YT vlogs are a great PR tool and will reach people your website never would. And they won’t take too much time to do. Just be sure that the audio is very clear (that’s more critical than hi-res video IMHO), so you’ll probably need to get a lavalier mike. Suggest querying Joanna Penn on how she does her vlogs.

    A friend of mine, Darren LaCroix ( has much to say about the benefits of YT vlogs. His website is worth checking out and has lots of good info on doing vlogs.

    One final comment: I think your tiny table will soon be outgrown. You will, I’m sure, be needing additional workspace. Also, I think that radiator will be way too hot once winter comes. Both for you and the computer. Electronic equipment does not like temperature extremes. My laptop LCD went bonkers last summer when the temps hit triple-digits F. Was worried that the computer was going bad, but the display came back to normal when the temps went down and has been fine since.

    Missed your posts. Glad to see them, and you, back.

  10. Red Hen says:

    Maybe link to youtube so people can go see and hear you over there. Me, I`m in internet fickle zone. It is just so vlog/youtube unfriendly that I just don`t go there if I can help it. Plus I love reading and I love words and you like writing so write for me please!

  11. Moira Munro says:

    Aagh, Catherine, but as an ex-ergonomist, I can’t stop myself. WHAT IS A WRITER DOING WITH A MINIATURE WORKSPACE?
    I’ll stop shouting now. Here’s another good reason to put aside the great novel: go find yourself a height-adjustable chair. Otherwise you’ll soon be blogging about physiotherapists and vlogging about the correct use of frozen peas.

  12. ahenig says:

    Was wondering what happened to you. I thought there was something wrong with my settings :)….Question for your vlog: Given the recent changes to the KDP Select program (not counting free downloads toward your paid sales rank), do you still recommend that new authors participate?

  13. complynn says:

    I’ll-start-a-vlog plans to share the new residence with finish-the-damn-novel? Won’t one of them bully time away from the other?

    (Or maybe you are waaay better at switching gears and managing time than I am!)

  14. Danielle says:

    I also recommend a better chair. But having said that I know some people feel BETTER in a stiff basic chair so just be sure to monitor how your body feels and do what’s right for u. I loooove the tiny space. Couldn’t do it myself so I’ll just have to admire yours. Very cute! I’d love vlogs…I think it’s always cool to see more personality and hear a persons true voice. Maybe you could do a series of your opinions of current self publishing issues/commentary/changes. I think your full blown advice pieces are better as text so people can easily search and read whilst at work etc. But an opinion type series which isn’t based on detailed instruction or advice would be perfect for vlog. People who can’t view at work can either view later or just stick to reading your written content 🙂

  15. startingthedialogue says:

    I’ve missed you, but am glad you are back. That is a small workspace, but to each his/her own. Please, if you do a video blog also have a transcript available. I hate video blogs and never listen to podcasts either. I want to read it, not hear it! You tell us to tell you what we think, so I’m saying it bluntly. No on the video blog.

  16. elianneferrer says:

    What a great workspace! Even though it’s too small for me (I like big couches that swallow me – and huge tables I get to disorganize and worry about tidying it later, but hey! that’s me hehe) I wish I had your organizing skills, it looks beautiful and neat! I feel like such a huge mess compared to you

  17. gracielynne6 says:


  18. shereenielsen says:

    Catherine, what is the best way to self-publish a photography book, and an essay and poetry collection with photographs? BookBaby? CreateSpace? One more economical than the other? One better quality? Please help….

    • catherineryanhoward says:

      To be honest I don’t know. I love Blurb for one-off coffee table books (like keepsakes that I’d just be buying copies of for me and friends) but the price is completely prohibitive for any sort of print on demand (I think). CreateSpace and Lulu seem to be extremely expensive for it too. I just don’t know if POD is there yet for those kinds of books, in terms of cost and quality.

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