A few days ago I decided to “claim my space.” Hoo, doggy, does that ever sound pretentious. But it’s kinda what I did. And I swear, it pertains to writing. Lemmie ‘splain…
When we moved from a 500-square-foot studio in Manhattan to a 2,500-square-foot rental in a Santa Fe subdivision (not counting the garage), I felt like Julie Andrews whirling around atop the Alps, arms thrown wide. We had more rooms than we had people! More rooms than we had cats! (So we adopted another cat.) A guest room and a room just for the treadmill I carted 2,000 miles knowing I’d never use! A few Craigslist expeditions later, and I even had some secondhand furniture to fill them.
The little bedroom in the back was supposed to be my sanctum sanctorum. My writer’s cave. My room with a view (of scrub brush and cactus, but still). Instead it became home to a litter box, an ugly hutch-topped desk, and the aforementioned clothes hanger (ahem, treadmill). It was depressing. And smelly. And I hated the hutch. So I never went in there. I wrote at the kitchen table or out at a cafe. Which made for a messy, paper-strewn dining table and a lot of overpriced coffees charged on my credit card. And no space where I could properly focus on being a writer.
I’d say this went on for over a year. Then suddenly–eureka!–I got a bug up my butt. “C’mon, husbeast,” I cried. “Let’s spend your precious Sunday night shifting furniture around and hitting things with hammers!”
I have a very gracious husband.
And a couple hours later, I had a very inviting space. Hutch dismantled. Desk moved in front of window for maximum bunny-and-coyote spotting. Litter box, banished. Treadmill, relegated to inconspicuous corner. And the funky blue lava lamp my brother got me when I was seventeen dug out of storage and placed proudly atop my desk.
I haven’t turned it off since. I freakin’ love that thing. It reminds me of my essential ridiculousness, and the ridiculousness of what I do. (Hell, I’m writing about a gal who gets exiled to a llama ranch right now…) It’s useless as a light source, and a total waste of electricity, but for me it’s a beacon of silliness and creativity. I watch it blub and bubble in my new, cozy office, and I feel like I’ve given my writing self a home where it’s okay to warm up, let thoughts burble to the surface, move mysteriously. And for me, writing is mysterious. As are my needs as a writer. You’d think all I’d need is a laptop, or a pen and some paper. Have muse, will travel, right? Environment should be irrelevant…
Not so much. For a while now I’ve writhed and wriggled like a kid with a wedgie every time I sat down to work on the new book. I thought my restlessness and discomfort were never going to go away, or that I’d lost the knack for concentrating. But since I claimed my space (there goes that obnoxious phrase again) I’ve felt a sense of renewed focus and energy. I now love going into my cave in the morning, setting my coffee on the little warming disk, lighting some “Scents of the West” incense and listening to Neko Case or the National. When I’m in here, I’m a writer.
Turns out, I just needed a little, quiet corner to call my own. And now I’ve got one. Lava lamp and all.