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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Working Spaces

Living in Japan where space is always in short supply but high demand, I have developed a bit of an obsession with the writing and working spaces of other writers.

Today I discovered a site calle From the Desk of which shows the working spaces of writers, graphic artists, fashion designers, visual artists, etc. Currently featured is poet Matthea Harvey's office. On the right there is a list of other artists and writers who have shared photos of their workspaces, but that list is by no means comprehensive of all that is offered in the site. Once you get to Jesse Hora (the last one listed), you can still click on an arrow at the top of the entry that will take you to erasure artist Austin Kleon's workspace. And from there you can continue to click backwards even further. I don't know how far it goes; I gave up looking back in the entries from February of this year.

The UK Guardian for quite some time ran a similar series, rooms of writers and composers, but that ended in 2009, I believe.

And there's Jill Krementz's book The Writer's Desk, which I haven't seen myself. Clearly I'm not the only person interested in the workspaces of creative people.

While the series run by the UK Guardian features some utopian desks and spaces that made me feel even sorrier about the little computer table in the corner of a room crammed with office equipment that I call my desk, I was heartened by the spaces in From the Desk of. In particular there are visual artists, who really need space more than writers do, who are clearly working and creating from less than optimal circumstances, reminding me that as a writer who can work just about anywhere if I am determined to, I should feel lucky.

And today, listening to the winds and rain pick up as the typhoon edges nearer, I do feel lucky. I can work on my tiny cluttered computer desk; I can work at the dining room table; and I can shove the covers off the bed and arrange pages all over the mattress to work. And I don't have to brave the elements to get to my studio either (which I have always thought I wanted to have, and maybe still do....) I can even opt for the table of a coffee shop, though I wouldn't on a day like today.

I'll still yearn for my own space, my own room or studio, but I am grateful today to be a writer able to work from almost anywhere, if I am only dedicated enough. Yes, it would be great to set up a desk really conducive to concentration and creative stimulation (one without my sons' Legos under my feet and my husband's trousers hanging off the printer), but the best writing doesn't require it. That's a luxury, and waiting for such a space to come before I write my best work is just an excuse to be lazy now.

If you are so inclined, please share pics of descriptions of your own writing spaces, or dreams of the ideal writing space.

UPDATE: Spending more time on the From the Desk of site, I finally found that you can scroll all the way to the bottom, and find archives listed by month. Open each month and scan for the name of a person whose desk or workspace you are interested in, and then click on that person's name to see their entry. Entries go back to March 2010.

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