As I look around my office, it strikes me how vital this place is to the survival of my goal. The quest for publication demands a safe haven for creativity and the explosion of ideas and inspiration. Without a headquarters or a home base, creating a world is almost impossible.
I used to dislike the work area I had. It was shared with my wife, who works at home. I liked working side-by-side with her, but it had its drawbacks. She talked often on the phone and I found that distracting. We would find ourselves talking about unrelated things during work time. But most of all, it was not the sharing of space that made this office unacceptable. It was the desk.
An artist friend of mine named Chris Mostyn has a drawing table he works at. It has everything he needs to conduct his business, and he can sit there for hours, comfortable and productive. My desk was actually painful. Resting my arms on the edge of my desk cut into my flesh. It did not have the things I wanted in a desk, and I found it hard to concentrate and do good work. Work was a drudgery, and it got to where I disliked working all together. So, the wife and I went on a quest to find an acceptable replacement.
I wanted a big desk, but not so big that I felt lost on it. I wanted something with drawers and a shelf that came out of the top edge for writing. The last thing I wanted was a computer desk, complete with keyboard drawer and tower door. I wanted something with character, but utilitarian as well.
We went searching for this creature at used furniture stores. We knew we would not find what I was looking for in new furniture. For weeks, we explored desks all over the city. I found it remarkable how many used furniture stores the city of Springfield boasted. Each one we went to, we found the same thing. People were getting rid of their computer desks. They were made to be crap, with no lasting power and little worth. These desks were disposable and, after a few years, would need to be replaced. Pressed board and fake wood lining had destroyed the affordable office desk, and as we walked the graveyard of crappy office furniture, we got more and more discouraged.
We hit every one of the stores before we came to a huge floor filled with more of the same. I walked the store in a haze of glum and disappointment. My wife saw a different piece she liked, and began talking to a salesman while I roamed the store, burning time until I could leave.
I wandered off the floor and back behind some bookshelves, and I stopped dead. It was ugly in a beautiful way. Old, it was a product of a different age, a product of a time when things were made to last. Grayish green and made of steel, this desk looked to have been an army or old teacher’s desk. It had a shelf at the top edge on both sides, above the drawers that went down on the left and right, and a middle drawer complete with a key to lock it all down.
I looked at this monstrosity and laughed. The owner of the store walked up to me and laughed with me. “You found my red-headed stepchild,” he said.
“This desk has a story,” I said.
“Oh yeah, this used to be an office desk for an old clothing manufacturing plant. The place went out of business and I bought all the furniture for a good price. I was excited about this piece. I knew it would go for a pretty penny. I put it out on the floor and it was ignored. For five years, no one even stopped to take a look at it. I finally needed room on my floor, so I moved it out of prime real estate and back off the beaten track. I still had hope of selling it, but another five or six years went by with no interest. I was lamenting this thing when another furniture guy told me to have a glass top cut for it. ‘A nice, thick piece of glass would sell it,’ he said. But after spending over a hundred dollars on this glass top, it still sat in my store for six or seven years without moving.
“I have given up on trying to sell it. I moved it back here out of the way, where I didn’t have to look at the thing, and here it has sat for years.”
I smiled at him and said, “Would you believe me if I told you I have been all over town looking for a desk just like this?’
“No,” he said. “I wouldn’t believe that. No one wants this desk.”
I laughed and asked him how much. He told me he would give it to me, but for the glass he had bought for it. Said if I would buy the glass for a hundred bucks, he would give me the desk. I bought it on the spot. He threw in free delivery and thanked me. I made that guy’s day, and I had acquired the most important piece of my office collection.
This desk waited years for me to come to it. It was ignored and hated until it finally found a home with me.
Having a place for your work to call home is of vital importance. It is worth taking the time to build an escape, a working environment that makes you want to come back and work more. I have this desk, and together we have written twelve books. I spend hours a day at this hub of creativity, and I will tell you that without it, and the office that goes with it, I think I would have lost hope a while ago.
Make a home for your art, and you will make more of it.