A Little Greeting From The Shed

Hi! You’ve reached my secret Shed page. Here, all questions about the Shed are answered (well, almost: even a Shed needs some secrets).

First, to explain: the Shed. It’s my place of work, my refuge, my haven from the world. On Twitter, it changes shape and location every day. Sometimes, it’s even an actual shed (see below).

However, it’s a lot more than that. Having a space in which to work is essential for any writer, even when that place is completely imaginary.

Here’s a piece I wrote a little while ago about imaginary spaces, their importance (and how to build one of your own.) Headspace matters at least as much as finding a physical workspace.

And here’s a little story I wrote about the Shed’s solo adventures…

At the bottom of a rather wild and overgrown garden, there stands a Shed. It has stood there for many years, nursing dreams, shaping stories. But it has no stories of its own. Only those brought by the bees from bloom to bloom, and from World to World. Except for this one story, which tells of how, for seven days in every ten years, the Shed assumes a human form and goes off into the outside world in search of its own adventures.

Thus it was, that one early autumn, the Shed took on the aspect of a man of middle age and mild appearance, wearing a dapper tweed suit, silk tie, and a hat at a jaunty angle. Alone, he wandered the countryside, carrying a walking-stick, exploring woods and hedges.

On the second day, the Shed discovered the coast; and, clad in a peach-coloured linen suit, went walking barefoot on a beach of deserted silver sand, investigating rock-pools, and collecting the small yellow spiral shells that came in daily with the tide.

On the third day, the Shed saw a woman standing alone on the shoreline. A woman of indeterminate age, who stood alone by the water’s edge, her eyes reflecting the ocean. On closer inspection, the Shed could see that her face was calm and a little sad, and that her eyes were the exact same colour as the place where the sky met the sea.

The Shed raised his hat. “Good morning,” he said. “My name is…” He paused, aware that he had no name. “My name is Mr Edwards,” he said.

The woman looked at him, surprised. “My name is Miss – er, Grey,” she said, and smiled. “I’m pleased to meet you.”

After that, Mr Edwards met Miss Grey by the beach every day. He wore silken cravats and waistcoats of increasing flamboyance. She wore dresses of dove-coloured silk, with her hair loose over her shoulders. They walked together on the beach, and collected shells and grasses, and paddled barefoot in the shallows, and reflected on the sunsets, which were as varied and spectacular as Mr Edwards’ collection of cravats.

Miss Grey was filled with stories of the sea, and the islands, and of the selkies that sometimes shed their skins to walk among the unsuspecting Folk of the land. Mr Edwards responded with the tales the bees used to tell, of Worlds that build a honeycomb, every one filled with stories.

On the seventh day, it rained. Mr Edwards, in raincoat and boots, took the liberty of offering Miss Grey the temporary shelter of his fine ebony-handled umbrella. Together, they explored the cliffs and the caverns by the shoreline. Together, they took tea and spiced buns from delicate china crockery.

At the end of the seventh day, Mr Edwards ventured to ask Miss Grey for the use of her given name.

“My name is Isla,” said Miss Grey. “And yours?”

“Shed – ahem! – Sheldon,” replied Mr Edwards, so intent on his thoughts that he had almost forgotten that this was only an assumed identity.

Mr Edwards extended his hand, hoping for who knows what token or promise of devotion. But, looking up, he realised that Miss Grey was crying.

He proffered a linen handkerchief, embroidered with his initial. “What’s wrong, dear lady?” he enquired. “How have I offended you? And how may I repair the offence?”

She smiled through her tears. “No offence, kind sir. But I am not a lady. In fact, I am not even human. All year I stand on the outermost ring of these rocky islands,” she explained. “I watch the passing ships. I give shelter to the seals and birds. It is a wild and lonely life, although I did not consider it so. And every ten years, for seven days, I take human form, and – ”

“I too,” exclaimed Mr Edwards, who in his daily life was a Shed of indeterminate aspect, changing shape and location, according to the moods and dictates of the stories it brought forth. “But – only seven days, you said?”

She sighed. “And this is the seventh day. Tonight, I resume my true Aspect again, for another ten lonely years.”

“Then let us walk,” Mr Edwards said, and hand-in-hand beneath his umbrella, they walked for one last time on the beach, and exchanged secret promises, and shared a single passionate kiss as the long day came to an end.

And this morning the Shed is a tumbledown cottage by a seashore, lost in the mist coming over the sea, quietly contemplating the tale of a woman who was an island, and of the man who loved her – a man named Edwards, who was a Shed.