The New York Times’ article on author Roxana Robinson’s writing office is typical of the New York Times — over-the-top breathless. The photo is to die for. The room is a sparsely furnished, sparsely decorated bedroom. Robinson sits on the bed and types away at her laptop, and one can imagine that she never even thinks of her surroundings, so perfectly calibrated are they to fade into unconsciousness.
If there were any justice in the world, the article will make it impossible for her to ever work in there again.
Well… no. But I compare it to my own nook and I think that Robinson has got the right idea, even if she does have a ton of money and plenty of literary cred, and even if the article makes the space look like an idealized version of the writer’s garret, like a movie set or something.
You can’t write without a room of your own, and the room itself can’t be distracting. In my pantry/laundry room, I have my computer and my pile of papers, books, and music. This is where I write and edit. It’s off the kitchen and I can close the sliding door (it gets hot but I have a fan). There are no windows. I look up and I stare at pegboard. In another life the room was a workroom. It isn’t lavish and it isn’t pretty but it gets the job done.
I don’t know what I would do with the meticulously kept office showcased in the Times. I’d probably get nothing done.
Anyway, here’s what mine looks like (and yes, off to the right, that is toasted sesame oil and supermarket-brand cheerios):
Just a little different.
Words: 1,800, Total: 60,800!
Music: Lucinda Williams, Essence
Email conversation between my friend V and me:
Vanita: [sends picture of guy with amazingly unattractive yet obviously lovingly attended facial hair)
Me: But….why? Just answer me that and I can die happy.
Vanita: I can NEVER figure out why some guys do that crap. We were talking about john magnie, one of the leaders of the subdudes and an all around new Orleans musical treasure. I think he’s a really good-looking guy, except….he has this damn BILLY GOAT thing going on. It’s WAY beyond a soul patch…more like Uncle Sam run amok. Ick.
Me: It’s like Colonel Sanders.
Vanita: Yep. That’s it! I mean, when I see guys with the twirled handlebar mustaches, or the leprechaun beard, muttonchops or any of that crap, I always think about walking up to them and saying “if you’re wearing that and getting laid, consider yourself a VERY lucky man.”
Me: You would be doing them a favor if you did.
So any gents reading this. Why? Why?
Words: kind of lost track, but I think about 1,500. I forgot to mark the starting number and there was some infill.
Music: Silence is the new ritual. Or maybe it was the whirring of the dryer (my office is in the pantry/laundry room). It’s rhythmic and undemanding.
Yeah, seriously, maybe what this means is that ritual isn’t as important as we think. Maybe we’re just fooling ourselves and all we need are the ABCs — (Apply Butt to Chair). I’m not going to put it to the test though. Right now, the words are flowing. I’ll be running straight back to ritual when every word is drawn painfully forth.
But 46,000 words! Slightly more than halfway to The End.