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Work Space

When Stephanie and I were first thinking about buying a house, we had all kinds of starry-eyed visions about what we wanted.  A huge backyard, a wrap-around porch, a finished basement, seven - no, let's go with twelve bathrooms.  We still have those same "what are we going to do with all our money when we win the lottery" dreams, but nowadays we've got much more humble desires.  Central air conditioning and a dishwasher are high on that list.

There is one thing, though, that was always a humble goal.  I had always wanted to have a separate work space to set up my desk.  All my life, it had always been in my bedroom.  When I was a kid, it made sense.  When I went off to college, fine.  When I got my first apartment, sure, whatever, we couldn't afford a two-bedroom unit.  But when we got a house?  Surely we'd have enough space for an office.

And for awhile... we did.  I set up my desk right in front of the window on the third floor that overlooked the city, so that I could glance out the window any time I felt I needed a burst of inspiration.  I painted the walls a mellow periwinkle color to calm me and put me in a good frame of mind for writing. And I started to sprawl out and let my carefully collected trinkets and junk find a place out in the open.

Then we had kids.  And now my desk is back in my goddamn bedroom.

Don't get me wrong.  The kids are cool and I don't resent them or regret having them.  I just get tired of backing up my office chair into my bed.  It feels improper.

Funny thing about a work space, though.  If it's too good, I'm not so sure it sets the right tone for motivation.

I think back on the times I've been most productive, most confident, and most satisfied with my writing, and they've all been next to a bed.  There was a stretch back in college where I wrote two novels and three screenplays in one year, and all of it was in my quiet half-sized corner dorm room.  The first draft of I Need a Job was written mostly in the basement bedroom I was renting from a friend when I first moved to Baltimore.  Both the rewrite of Bitter People Without Souls and all of "Born Loser" were written in my current bedroom.

You know what I wrote in that one year I had a functioning office?  All of the worst posts for this blog back when I didn't know what I wanted to do with it, and then that first, really shitty draft of Bitter People that was a pain in the ass to revise.

I don't think comfort has anything to do with success.  I think some part of me needs to be overwhelmed or irritable to get the right fire going.  If I feel challenged, I want to come up with something spectacular to rise to the occasion.  The rest of the time I just go, "That's probably good enough" and then sit back to enjoy my awesome view.

"Starving artist" is right.  Hunger drives you to hunt.  Satiety makes you pass out on the couch.

So, I guess this is my subconscious coming to the forefront to tell me that I should stop looking for excuses about why I haven't gotten any work done in the last couple of weeks and just get back into my book.  Time's running out and I'm feeling more than a bit peckish.