Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A Space to Write

All I really need to write
I've been complaining about my writing space. I know this is a stupid thing to do. It's actually a form of procrastination which has nothing to do with writing. I know, people have different styles and preferences, and I understand the rituals some writers have to go through before they can actually get words from their head onto the page. It's still a delay tactic that I've been employing. Which is silly because it doesn't get anything written.

I recently moved and I find it easy to complain because I've condensed my workspace considerably so that others can have a greater living space. For family bliss it was the right thing to do. But I remain jealous because in my last place I had a real office. An entire room, with sliding glass doors that lead to an unkempt yard with beautiful views. A far cry from my present condition. But I'm romanticizing, because when I stop to think, with that office space I was probably the least productive I've ever been.

This makes me think of my prior writing environments. When I first moved to San Diego I had a sun room in Bankers Hill with a nice view of landing airplanes and the blossoming skyline. During the day it was too hot to work in there. At night, believe it or not, it often got too cold. When it rained, the windows leaked. We began to use it as a storage place as our family began to grow. But it's the room I first used an Apple computer and the first time I went online using one of the ubiquitous AOL CD-Rom's we got in the mail.

Before that, as a newlywed in Boston, my office was tucked behind a large dresser in our bedroom. A large laminate board resting on top of two file cabinets served as my desk. The old Smith Corona PWP3200 Word Processor sounded like machine gun fire that reverberated through the tiny apartment. But I penned several screenplays in that space and taped each rejection slip to the wall.

Before that was college, hunting and pecking on standard issue desks or sometimes on the floor in the hall of the dorm.

In high school, most of my school projects were by hand. I had wanted a Commodore 64 but instead had a very fancy Brother Word Processor that has a 16 character LCD screen and printed in dot matrix on thermal paper. This was for my important work, like my very first screenplay (and yes, the original has faded away).

I've had a lot of writing spaces I've never been happy with. That's because when I spent time trying to improve them, I wasn't writing. Even though it's still easy for me to bemoan the space I'm writing these very words in, the truth is, it doesn't matter. I have a laptop. I can write anywhere. And if I don't have power, or want to be out in the bright sun or in a darkened corner, I have pens and notebooks. (and now's the time to stock up on even more).

In the late spring I spent several nights at my Dad's kitchen table with just my laptop and it was perhaps the most productive, word count-wise, writing period I've ever experienced.

Sure, it's nice to have a space to spread out, like Mark Twain's billiard table. Add it's great to have a wall devoted to a whiteboard and another one or two devoted to books. These show nice to friends and validate that yes, I'm a writer. But there is something better. Actual writing. Finished manuscripts, published posts, bound books, Amazon rankings ... all more satisfying symbols to point toward.

As long as a writer has passion for the subject, they can write. Everything else is preference. Meeting those preference may be important but probably won't improve your writing. The thing that improves your writing best, it writing more often.

So crappy space be damned. Write right now! I just did.