December 31, 2015
find your figurative desk
After writing and editing an entire novel in hotel rooms, friends' homes, Airs BnB, and my dining room table, I figured catch-as-catch-can was good enough. When we moved into our new home in California last December, I decided I'd be fine continuing to operate without a designated space for my artistic work.
Stand up comedy has certainly taught me to value no-fuss, low-overhead creativity. All you need is a mic! And a little lighting! Maybe a stool! Stools are optional! Even conjuring my friend and mentor Salome Gawkerton, Internet Feminist requires little more than a hair tie and a pair of broken sunglasses.
But, as 2015 rolled on, I found I wasn't making a whole lot of headway on my second book. That brilliant new pilot script remained confined within the squishiest regions of my grey matter. I re-designed my whole website, but I did so hunched over my tiny laptop keyboard while sitting in a dining chair. When November came around and my husband asked me what I wanted for Christmas, the indignity I'd been steadily subjecting myself to boiled to the surface. "I think I need a desk," I began. "It's been pretty hard using the table," I admitted. I felt an upwelling of hyperbole in the pit my stomach, headed directly towards my vocal chords. "This situation is impossible!" I insisted, my voice trembling, at my poor agreeable spouse. He just stared at me, wide-eyed, as I leapt to my feet, rent my garments, and wailed: "I'm a FUCKING NOVELIST! And I don't even have my own GODDAMN DESK!"
Then I swept out and I took to my bed.
The day after Christmas, we visited every used furniture store in West LA, to no avail. We followed that up with a particularly depressing trip to the high-end Helms Complex, where I was silently mocked by $580 worth of Scandinavian particle board. Instead of pulling the trigger on an antique dinette table or a piece of children's furniture that costs more than my entire wardrobe, I turned to dear ol' Uncle Craigslist, and I found the perfect thing, just posted, down the street, for twenty bucks.
Over the past year, I've been adjusting, moving, changing, finding my way. That's what we do every year, of course, but I've spent 2015 navigating a new coast, a new job, a new schedule, a new life. I journaled and meditated and read Jung. My soul tends to tell me what it needs.
And, at the dawn of 2016, what my soul needs is a desk. The first person who has to take my art seriously is me. If I'm reluctant to invest time, resources, energy, and effort in my work, then everybody else will be too. And if I don't make the space, literal and metaphorical, for my creativity, nobody's going to do it for me.
So I encourage you to find your own metaphorical desk this year. It doesn't have to be big or fancy or expensive or Swedish. It just has to matter.
Happy Desk Year!