The house I’m in now has this really nice room near the back, right next to a recreation room that has a disco ball, a wall radio with 80s music, and boxes that probably will never get unpacked. When I moved into the house, the back room really caught my eye. It’s a spacious room with a wide built-in desk and a great view of the back yard and the San Gabriel Mountains. It was quiet and away from the rest of the house.
And it was boring. As much as I enjoyed the view, the office lacked functionality and customization That built-in desk I drooled over became a burden as I used not even half of it and couldn’t move it around at all to make a layout that gave me greater focus. See, that’s the thing about me, sometimes I like changing things up just because it’s time for a change, a little feng shui if you will.
But what I really needed was to get back to basics, and I was surprised that the damn desk was the source of a lot of the frustration, followed by the windows that took up too much potential wall space.
I remembered something Stephen King said in the biblio-bible On Writing: “[Your writing] space can be humble (probably should be, as I think I have already suggested), and it really needs only one thing: a door which you are willing to shut.”
I agree with King on the humility, but not the shutting of the door, though there are times when that really does come in handy. You ever seen that film On The Road? The one with Sam Riley as Sal Paradise? If you haven’t, it’s a really good film.
But when you do, I like you to take a look at Sal Paradise’s bedroom. It features a narrow bed, a simple desk with a lamp and a typewriter, a shelf above that’s little more than a plank of wood attached to the wall, and a couple of small easily moveable bookshelves. There’s not even any photos on the walls as far as I can see.
It’s practically monastic. And was pretty much the inspiration when I decided to rethink my home office and move it into my bedroom. I hid away a basket I was using as a laundry hamper, which had taken up a corner of the room, and replaced it with a desk from Office Depot that I’d come to admire, along with a little nightstand upon which to set a printer. I’d already bought a Henge dock, the vertical one that turns my laptop into a desktop with minimal space. There’s also a wall calendar on the wall above the desk letting me keep track of the days I write, and a small but useful dry erase board for jotting own quick notes.
On the other side of the room is a built-in cabinet and bookshelf. The cabinet is where I hide anything I don’t want out in the open and the shelf is where I keep my books, DVDs, and CDs, as well as binders of stories. My bedroom, in truth, was meant to be an office; the only other closet space is in the other side of the house in that back room I salivated over when I moved in.
So it’s not absolutely perfect, but I’m happy with it. I’m focused in it. And to a writer like me, that focus is all I could ever as for.