Thursday, January 12, 2012

A Room of One’s Own

By Michael

My wife wants me to buy a desk. A fifty-year-old writer writing books on top of a piece of plywood that he has stretched across two banged-up metal file cabinets is – I don’t know what – Cheap? Pathetic? She also would like me to replace my desk chair, which I found in the basement of a house I rented thirty years ago when I was in college. The paint would be chipping off the chair if it had any paint left to chip.

After I sold my first mystery, my parents bought me a beautiful glass organizer for pens, paperclips, and the like – all those desktop items that I would keep neat if I owned a proper desk instead of a piece of cheap, pathetic plywood.

Recently, my aunt, who lives in Williamsburg, Virginia, bought me a quill and inkpot, which are, I assume, what writers in Williamsburg keep on their desks or once kept back in the pilgrim days.

Several years ago, my mother-in-law bought me a khaki safari jacket, telling me she thought it looked “writerly” – and it probably did in a Hemingway kind of way. If I wore it while writing, I could use the roughly two dozen pockets in it to store all the extra pens and paperclips that didn’t fit in the desk organizer. That is, if I had a desk.

But I like my workspace. It includes only the essentials, nothing that gets in the way –physically, emotionally, psychologically – when I’m writing. A laptop and a PC fit comfortably between my manuscripts and notes, my boxes of paperclips, my pens, and my post-office scale. If I’m thirsty, I can squeeze in a coffee cup. Pictures of my wife and kids smile at me from the top of an extra file cabinet.

At my smiling wife’s insistence, I agreed – reluctantly – to stain and polyurethane the plywood “desktop.” The fanciness of the glossy finish bothered me for a couple of weeks until dust started to settle. As for the rest, some day I hope to visit Williamsburg wearing my safari jacket. I’ll carry my quill in one pocket and my inkpot in another. When I do, I’ll bring my aunt a beautiful glass organizer.


Meredith Cole said...

Your desk looks fine to me--especially if it helps you keep writing your books... My desk is a giant wooden teacher desk that a friend found on the street. I love all its dings and scratches, and I like that I never have to worry when the cat decides to take a nap on it.

I think you should wear the safari jacket for your next author photo, Michael!

Michael Wiley said...

Meredith, I'm going to print up your comment and read it every time I feel down about my "desk."

lil Gluckstern said...

Since I really liked the books you wrote on it, I vote for keeping things as they are. All those good vibes. The jacket is cool though. The quill and the pen charming.

Michael Wiley said...

Thanks, Lil -- The quill would slow down the writing process considerably. I'm impressed that anyone ever wrote anything more than a haiku with one.

Reece said...

The desk seems to be working well for you, Michael, so I would definitely stick with it. And now that you have the safari jacket, I'm waiting for the Hemingway beard!

Michael Wiley said...

I grew the beard through December, Reece, though my kids called it the Santa Claus Beard and my wife said I was starting to look like ZZ Top -- which half she didn't say.