Posted in Reading, Writing

Writing in the Library

A post about writing fiction and finding inspiration in public libraries

Modern desk with computer
In the blue corner, my business desk

For the first time today, I decided to take a mini writing retreat in my local public library, and I’m jolly glad I did.

I’m lucky enough to have my own study at home, in which I’ve squeezed both a business desk for my freelance work and, for my fiction writing, a tiny upright bureau that used to be my grandfather’s. Even though it’s currently in a relatively tidy state, I needed some cooler air in which to write. My study’s upstairs, and all the heat in the house seems to gravitate towards it and stay there.

Old upright bureau with paper notebook
In the red corner, my fiction writing desk

As I had to go into our nearest town anyway to run an errand, I decided to take my notebook with me and sit in the calm, open-plan space of the Yate Public Library, where it might not be much cooler, but at least the air would circulate better.

Like a human thermometer, I roved around our large, single-story modern library, trying to decide the best place to settle. It’s a new, light and airy building, thanks to a National Lottery grant a few years ago. Easily the coolest spot was the children’s section. This was also one of the quietest, as I was there during school hours.

Notebook showing Einstein's head and caption "Ideas"
Always inspiring: a new spiral-bound notebook

After I’d been scribbling away happily in my new notebook for half an hour, a small girl aged about 3 arrived with her mum. She made a beeline for the open boxes of picture books and quickly made her choice.  “But you’ve had that one before!” complained her mum.  Undeterred, the little girl curled up in a chair to read it, or at least, to read the pictures – a great way to develop future reading skills, by the way, as is enjoying the same books over and over again.

Seeing how much pleasure this little girl was gaining from her favourite story gave me a real filip. It reminded me that writing stories isn’t really about the author getting words on the paper, to satisfy his or her own compulsion to write, but about filling the reader with pleasure. What better incentive could there be to any writer? I carried on writing…

Further Encouragement

New cover of Stocking FillersOn arriving home, satisfiedwith my morning’s work, I was torn between whether to close my eyes for a few minutes (gosh, this heat is enervating!) or  to plough on with writing my story. While deliberating, I had the urge to check whether I’d received any new reviews lately. (Yes, authors do this a LOT.) To my delight, there was a new one against my Christmas collection of short stories, Stocking Fillers. Though the review was brief, it said enough to make me happy:

Gentle but worldly. Light sometimes outwardly fluffy stories, but within is a gentle spike of irony. Very easy and digestible. A true story teller.

Well, now I know what I’ll be doing for the rest of the day: smiling.

With thanks to Yate Library and its wonderful staff for providing such a wonderful resource to our local community. 

New cover for Quick Change

If you love public libraries, you may also enjoy these previous posts: 

In Praise of Public Libraries

Sharing My Stories about Public Libraries

Another Story Inspired by Libraries

Both of the two short stories in the above posts are also available in the new paperback edition of Quick Change, my flash fiction collection.



English author of warm, witty cosy mystery novels including the popular Sophie Sayers Village Mysteries and the Gemma Lamb/St Bride's School series. Novels published by Boldwood Books, all other books by Hawkesbury Press. Represented by Ethan Ellenberg Literary Agents. Founder and director of the Hawkesbury Upton Literature Festival. Course tutor for Jericho Writers. UK Ambassador for the Alliance of Independent Authors. Lives and writes in her Victorian cottage in the heart of the beautiful Cotswold countryside.

6 thoughts on “Writing in the Library

  1. I haven’t been to the library in quite awhile. Should really try to go more often. Get a lot of writing done at the library. Plus, I get to be surrounded by shelves and shelves of books.

  2. Have never written in a (public) library – only in Uni ones – maybe shd try it! Love the story about the small child, how true your comment is!

Leave a Reply