The migrant writer
We all have this ideal image of what our home office will look like. Mine is this chic, super minimalist space — totally out of the IKEA catalog. Everything will be hidden from view — even the chair. No clutter will be seen — no unpaid bills, no unfinished work or unruly desk utensils taunting you. It will be clean, simple and calming. The desk will be white and everything will be filed away in monochromatic containers — an anal retentive person’s dream come true. I’m meticulous — very meticulous — but, did I mention that I’m just hopeful that Santa will drop this IKEA workspace off via sled for Christmas? Ahem — parents, that’s your cue.
In all honestly, a personal workspace is something that is constantly evolving for me as a freelance writer. I have no real office, no real space that I can write in. So, from story to story, I find myself writing in a new locale. I’m looking to find the appropriate writing desk feng shui in my house.
It all started with me writing about kitchen cabinets in front of my guest room window. I then moved my desk across the hall to my bedroom to write about lampshades (in awkward lighting, I might add). Then I moved to my bed for a good two months during a bout of bronchitis, pneumonia and epic pleurisy and wrote about nocturnal nature in the Blue Ridge Mountains. I dabbled in beer prose downstairs on my coffee table, pondered spring gardening over my high-top pub table in the kitchen and ventured into writing about winter planting sprawled out on my suede sectional.
All the meantime, my interviews were just as nomadic: I paced my upstairs during a surprisingly interesting interview about soapstone quarries and later questioned a famous furniture designer with a “Don’t Mess With Texas” mug in hand while clad in flamingo print pajamas. At times I found myself outside with laptop perched on thighs and hands cumbersomely cradling cell in avoidance of my patronizing 8-pound mutt Harvey’s unwieldy yelps. “All this for the love,” I’d tell myself, then moving to the front porch to write a story about God knows what.
As I lounge now on my guest room bed while writing this, I realize that the beauty of freelancing is not being chained to a desk. The desk is a beautiful piece of furniture — exquisite in function and aesthetic — but as a freelancer, I am nomadic in all ways. As much as I love the idea of a desk, the idea of a constant writing surface, I know it will bother me. There is something beautiful about being able to walk outside in your own backyard to interview someone, to write wherever you gosh-darn please and do it on your own clock. I love it and it’s something I know I will do for the rest of my life.
So, I’ll keep my ironing board as a credenza, my guest bed as my organizing surface, bottom filing cabinet drawer not for filing, and my desk — my desk — not just for work.