Dora Goss blogged recently about envy, specifically about envying Margo Lanagan’s post on her writing day (which Lanagan later noted was an optimal day) and writing space. I heard lots of similar talk when Liz Hand shared her awesome writing space here.
Envy of this kind doesn’t itch me much, either about time, process, or whatever. I’ve certainly done marathon sessions of writing, but I find I work best in short, controlled bursts, with energy and enthusiasm high. If I spent all day just writing, I tend to lose steam and focus. And I never really had a thing for other people’s writing spaces beyond general interest.
Even when I was working longs hours and doing grad school, when I even stopped writing fiction for about six months while working seven (yup, seven) jobs, I don’t think I coveted spaces and places of others. I liked where I wrote, a desk covered in books ranging from the invention of radar to the origins of parliamentary democracy, as well as stacks of photocopies from journals like SMALL WARS AND INSURGENCIES, to a Gary Braunbeck novel or a biography of Tom Waits precariously perched on a stack of library books about the war in Burma, a tawdry calendar of pulp novels hanging on the walls, bookcases overflowing, floors covered in dust and banker boxes full of over-sized documents from England and across Canada, a poster of Bubba Ho Tep on the back wall, a flyer for a special lecture from one of my mentors, Brian McKercher, on another, and an obituary for the subject of my thesis, Dr. Omond Solandt tacked in front of me.
Now that’s a lair.
There might be one general exception. I always loved pictures of writers from the 1940s and 1950s. Usually rumpled fellows in short sleeve shirts with crinkled ties and dour, stressed looks on their face, veins as thick as hemp rope climbing up their sleeves.
If I’m being honest, it’s the tough guy vibe of these shots. The idea that writing is hard work, not new agey and whoo whoo and magical. You need an iron will and iron ass to do it. It ain’t for the weak, it’s not for the timid, so get to work.
They also seemed to have wild hair that got mangled the longer they were at work. I could relate! So here’s a great shot of Nelson Algren, author of THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN ARM, A WALK ON THE WILDSIDE, and many fine short stories, looking like a punk rock writer before the term even existed.
Notice a resemblance to anyone???