For the past 18 months, I’ve been writing at the kitchen table each morning. It’s a small house, we have a kitchen, a living room, and a dining room, essentially all in the same “room.” The “Dining Room” is the only table in the room – and it’s next to the kitchen – so it’s less formal than a dining room, but not quite the kitchen table. Anyway, that’s where I write each morning. I sit here with my laptop and coffee, my wife sits across the table from me, doing monster sudoku-kakuro puzzles, and most days I have a Siamese cat laying next to me while I type – he’s here now, reading what I write – it can be really distracting. But today, it doesn’t look like he’s judging me yet.
On days when he’s really determined to lay on my laptop, I dream of a writing cabin out back. I have 3.2 acres, and could easily grab a tiny house and drop it back there. I’m just not sure that’s what I’d like. Maybe I could drop everyone else back there, and stay at my table? It’s funny how used to something you can become. I joke that I wish I formed a habit as quickly as my dog. The asshole husky can do something once that the likes, and boom! It’s a habit now. He must do it every day. But if I try to get him to do something I want, say, sit before he enters the house so he doesn’t bull-rush me through the door, I have to tell him every. single. time. we go into the house. Anyway, back to habits – I’ve formed a good one at this table, with this laptop and this damn cat. I’ve written here for a year and a half now. I haven’t written here every single day, but I’ve written a lot of days here. I’d have to go to Marriott and see how many nights I stayed with them to double check. But even with my travel, I bet I wrote close to 300 mornings in this spot last year.
I stopped searching
So trying to think about my “ideal writing room” after more than a year of success I’ve had sitting at the only table in my house – I think I’ve already found it. It speaks to my personality. I’m not a vain person, although I lament the way I’ve lost my hair over the last 20 years, and I wish I had different facial features most days, I’m not vain. I’m not arrogant. I know what I’m good at, but I don’t rub it in anyone’s face. I don’t think writing is my strongest point, but I’m working on that. I’m just a normal guy at heart, with several diverse interests. A lot of them. And that’s challenging most days. I flutter between things I want to do like a moth in a lamp store. There’s not enough time in the day for me to do everything I want to do in one day. I can’t explain how frustrating that can be.
Fortunately, I’ve settled on writing as an outlet. I say “settled” because it could have easily been music, or drawing, or learning – research. Any one of those could replace writing as my daily focus. And someday, it’s possible that one of them takes over for writing. If I get to the place I want to be, having written a few books, and comfortable with my creative ability, I’ll probably move to the next thing. I’d say it will either be music or drawing. Music is my favorite, I love to play, but mostly I love to play in front of an audience. That’s not always possible. Although I could find a nice street corner, you know? That seems to be socially acceptable these days. It would give me a reason to grow a really long beard, which seems to be socially acceptable now as well.
Sure, I have an ideal, but…
I’ve been a hopeless romantic so long that when something comes into my life that really works and that I really do love, I fight to keep it. That’s where I am with my writing – why would I move to a cabin, or another room, when this is working? If it ain’t broke – leave me the hell alone! OK, sure. If I let my hopeless romantic side go, I have a room off of my bedroom, that I can go into early each morning and write. I have a perfect set up – a comfortable chair, a handsome desk, and the best keyboard ever made that works perfectly for me. The room is small, cozy, and lined with bookshelves. It doubles as my library – all of my writing books, poetry books, favorites, leather-bound, and reference books are here. I have an old typewriter or two on top of one of the bookshelves, my grandfathers “Red Ball No 1” phone that was linked to the president during his Point Mugu Missle Range employment. I’d have my English diploma on one wall, probably behind me and I’d have it all fancied up. Other than that I can’t really think of anything it would “need.”
It comes from within
That’s the thing, I don’t need a writing room. I’m not sure I really want one. One thing that’s kept me from writing for so many years is the antisocial aspect of it. I’d have to be in my office, the door closed, and it would drive my wife nuts. Who would think their husband enjoyed sitting in his office 12-15 hours a day? She was convinced I was watching porn or something else nefarious. I’m not saying that porn has never appeared on my computer. I’m not that honorable, actually, but I’m saying that during my writing periods, there is nothing else going on.
So my moving to the kitchen/dining room table has quelled that once and for all – she sees that I’m sitting here working. Even then, on occasional, “What are you doing?” comes out. She can’t help herself.
If I went back to an ideal writing room, I would probably be less productive. I can’t explain it. With her across from me, I can focus on my writing. She doesn’t talk to me, mostly. When she does, I normally respond in kind, unless I’m in the middle of a thought, in which case I try to be as gentle as possible when I tell her to stop talking to me. I fail most of the time, but after 21 years, I think she’s used to the shortness that accompanies my writing. I don’t want to be disturbed. It can break the flow completely if I’m not careful. I think she gets that now. Probably not. She probably harbors deep resentment for me, I should ask someday.
I’ve tried to develop the ability to write wherever I am, and not fall into the trap of needing a “special place” to write. Let’s face it, the true magic of a writer comes from within. No special pen or magic toy canon can substitute the power of the human creative mind. But superstition is a powerful thing, too. So those special things writers cling to are the writing equivalent of an athlete’s special shorts, socks or God knows, whatever else. But make no mistake, that’s not where the power lies, it lies within us.
So I don’t need a special room. I did have a few needs at first, and I had to work through the pieces of technology that would enable me to have the easiest path to productivity. But I don’t need a special place for this. Any old place will do, thank you. The closer it is to my bed and the coffee pot, the better, but that’s just so I can get started sooner. Sure, I know you skeptics are out there thinking the Siamese cat is a good luck charm – and he may well be – he’s a great cat. But I know in my heart and my mind that I can do this all on my own – at least this initial creative part. It’s the rest of the process that requires people other than myself. Hopefully, they don’t want their own rooms, either.
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