At one time I meant to stencile “Abandon hope, all ye who enter here” above my office door. They’re the words in Dante’s Inferno carved above the gate to hell. Yes, it might be dark–made complete by the ever-favorite shot of a piano about to crush me Wiley E. Coyote style (a too-apt depiction of fear in my life) in the corner of my bookshelf left over from a morbid shoot in my modeling days. But considering all the things in my search history (diseases, weapons, cyber attacks, historical villains like “Blood Countess” Elizabeth Bathory)—not to mention all the tough things that seem to accompany the writing process in general—it’s always seemed apt.
Don’t get me wrong; my office has always been my sanctuary and where Stuff Gets Done. After marrying and moving into my new husband’s farmhouse, I was without an office for a time. I worked out of an old upstairs bedroom-turned-children’s playroom with my stepdaughter’s octopus arm lamp that only had three working light bulbs and cast a greenish hue on my face during Zoom calls. The carpet was stained and flies somehow always managed to sneak in through the crannies to buzz against the windows, but it was my space away from the world.
Last year right before the pandemic, we tore the play room out—along with the rest of the 1940s upstairs of our farmhouse and began framing in bookshelves, a built-in live edge desk for my husband, along with reading and work areas for me. During that time, I attempted work from our bedroom.
Hahahaha. Where was that Inferno quote when I needed it?
Twenty months, two carpenters, two painters, an electrician, and several new gray hairs later, I finally moved into the new digs.
It’s finally gotten some finishing touches, including my favorite piece of art—a print called “It’s All In Her Mind” by Arizona artist Raina Gentry. Ahhh! What a difference. It isn’t exaggeration to say I’ve gotten more done since August than I did all of 2020.
I have friends who work at coffee shops and kitchen tables and turn out bestselling, award winning work. But I’ll always need a literal room of my own to do much of anything worthwhile.
What about you? What must you have to be productive, to call a work or writing space your own?