Fancy Desks and Kitchen Tables
“When I am fabulously wealthy,” I tell myself, “I shall buy the fanciest of desks.”
After all, I am a writer. My desk is my ship’s bridge, my nest, and my second home. Nor am I alone in pondering my desk. Most writers tend to be a little finicky about their work setup. Sometimes it’s rooted in superstition—if I have the right workspace, I will make the right words. Sometimes, it’s sheer, Pavlovian habit—when I sit in this spot, with the light so and the music thus, the words come.
Here are some of the desks that I tell myself I would buy, if I had the money.
That last one is important for me. I need space to spread out. There are plenty of secretary desks out there that would be sufficient for my laptop, but not the stack of notes, papers, and books.
Drawers are important too: for pens and pencils, scissors and business cards, vitally important records and the pieces of paper that aren’t quite as important, but that I’ll probably need close to hand. Bonus points if the desk comes with a secret drawer.
So that’s my ideal desk: enormous, historic, handsome wood, lots of drawers.
Here is my current desk:
It’s actually a really good desk. I’ve had it since I moved out from my parents’, so maybe…five years, almost? It’s a solid wooden desk with sufficient storage space, but what makes it a really good desk is the top.
The top, you see, did not come with the desk. It is a massive, heavy, beautifully treated piece of wood that we placed atop the desk. It’s not connected or anything. No nails, no screws, no joining. It’s just so heavy that it sits there without moving. Mostly I forget that it’s a separate piece.
When I dream of super fancy desks, I’m mostly just indulging in idle dreams of luxury. Because here is the ironic thing—
I don’t write at my desk.
Or, to be more precise, I don’t draft at my desk.
I write blog posts at my desk. I handle correspondence and social media from my desk. Research, essays, audio, video, and prose editing…that all happens here. But drafting fiction?
Nearly all of the Creepy Play and Sing to the Bones were written on my couch. Most of my short fiction has been written either in odd corners of Tennessean cabins, or at my kitchen table.
I don’t write at my desk.
Sometimes, I wonder why that is. It might well be a mental thing. Writing at the kitchen table or the couch implies that we’re just messing around, it’s not Serious For Real Writing, and thus my inner critic shuts up. I’d say there’s an element of physical comfort, but I wrote “The Love it Bears Fair Maidens” variously half-lying on a bed and scrunched on one end of a couch.
(I realize that’s not terribly ergonomic. I promise that I do try to avoid the injuries that come with the writing life. Mostly.)
We may become superstitious about our workspaces, but we don’t need much, do we? Just a place to sit or stand, and a place to rest a notebook or laptop. That’s it. And there is something special about those late nights at the kitchen table—when it’s just you and the words, spinning whole worlds from memory and dream. Maybe the connection feels easier to grasp with bare hands.
After all…it doesn’t really matter where you write, as long as you are writing.
But one day, I’m buying that desk.
What I’m Listening To This Week
You thought we were done with madrigals, didn’t you? Hahaha, no. Here’s another piece from our good friend Thomas Morley. It gets me in a spring-like mood—about time, after this last burst of winter.
Particular things I dig: the drum like a skipping heartbeat under the flute, and the harmonies around the “fa la la la’s.” The parts don’t weave around each other as in other examples from this period—but it’s still delightful.