In his June 8 article for The New Yorker, “The Strange Rise of the Writer’s Space,” writer Evan Hughes introduces the concept of the “writer’s space,” a place where writers go to write that’s like an office – but not. The writer pays rent, and in return gets a desk, some common office facilities such as a kitchen and couch, and access to materials such as magazines, wifi, and a printer (B.Y.O. paper though).
I don’t know about other writers, but my budget is pretty tight. I don’t have the discretionary funds renting office space would require, though admittedly there’s probably a way to write it off on one’s taxes. That too, however, is beyond my skill and interests.
The idea of these places, which admittedly aren’t sprouting up like dandelions, is to provide a less isolated environment for writers to do their thing, though inherently writing is a solitary endeavor. In short, it’s an attempt to provide a writing environment devoid of distractions like kids, and provide motivation when one’s own lack of discipline can interfere with productivity, not to mention defray the embarrassment of appearing not have a “real” job.
Personally, I like writing at home. My workspace floats from my bed to a desk (actually an appropriated table) to the couch. This is the advantage of using a laptop: portability. And frankly, I really don’t care if I seem to have a “real” job or not. After fifteen years as a stay-at-home mom, I’m steeled against the raised eyebrows of those who don’t understand what it is that I do. I can’t recall how many times I had a conversation that went like this:
“What do you do?”
“I’m a homemaker.”
“Oh, well do you work?”
As if taking care of four sons and running a household wasn’t work.
I can see the attraction to a writing space away from the house though. There are days I don’t step foot out of the house except to check the mail and lately I find myself sending my sons to do that because yes, I wear the writer’s uniform, pajamas, all day long. At times, bathing seems pointless. But it does get lonely (sometimes I find myself holding young Mormon missionaries hostage in order to have a conversation with another adult).
When I set up my writing space in the living room, it was a long-anticipated event. I’d put it off for four years while kids came and went, experiencing typical launching into adulthood false starts. But with my youngest about to head to college, I seized the moment and bought the aforementioned table at World Market for $100. It was a somewhat badly damaged floor model that came with a smaller table on which now sits my CD player.
I’m happy with the set up. I found a reasonable chair, plopped a lamp to one side, so as to look “literary,” and piled on books that I’m supposed to be reading, though actually I read in bed or on the couch. At any rate, what I’ve found is that I haven’t changed my habits yet. Seventy-five percent of the time, I’m still writing in bed, in my pajamas.
Writing is a solitary pursuit; it’s just part of the gig. I comfort myself knowing that at least I didn’t have to shower and get dressed, drive somewhere, pay rent and supply my own paper which I do at home anyway so I can write. And of course, the missionaries might stop by.
Cat Hubka is the Nonfiction Editor of Blue Mesa Review