The New York Times recently featured the workspace of five writers, including a photo of each.
I’ve always felt a little envious of writers and their workspace, since mine is often the dining room table and the commotion that surrounds it:
The children, the pets, the wife, the television in the next room, the phone, the sounds of cooking from the adjacent kitchen, the buzzing, ringing and beeping of modern-day toys and the constantly encroaching detritus of everyday life.
I try to escape to libraries and similar locations from time to time, but most often, it’s the dining room.
The Hartford Courant photographer came by a couple years ago to take a photo for a story about my most recent book and captured my writing space perfectly:
The photographer asked me to show him my office, and I pointed at the table. He loved it. I told him that I would move my son and clean off the toys, mail, and other random objects on the table, but he said, “No, I love it. Just like this.”
“Sure,” I said. “It’ll make a great photo, but try writing like this.”
In reading the New York Times piece, I was happy to see that novelist Mona Simpson has a space similar to my own. After attempting to write in an office, she eventually reverted back to her home. The photograph is of her kitchen table, not unlike my own, but she also writes throughout her house.
Now I write at home. I revised the last 11 drafts, red-penciled the copy editing and marked the first-pass galleys at different places in the house; sitting on the floor next to the heating vent, on my bed, at the kitchen table, leaning back in my chair with my feet up on the desk.
Her kitchen looks a lot neater than my dining room table, but perhaps her two children are older and less destructive. Perhaps she was also smart enough to tidy up before the photographer arrived.
Either way, it was nice to see I’m not the only writer without a dedicated office filled with books, art, well appointed furniture, and an expansive view through a picture-perfect window.
Still, despite my success at the dining room table, I’d like to have an office someday. Perhaps like Simpson, I would ultimately reject it in favor of what I know, but I’m willing to give it a shot. It would be rather innovative to be able to write five whole sentences without a child asking me to play, a wife asking for a favor or a dog scratching for a bone.
Perhaps it would ruin my writing process and damage my creative process, but I’m willing to risk it. At least for a while.
A guy can dream.