Since moving to Toronto in 1985, every house or apartment I’ve either rented or owned has had an office, or at least a dedicated space for writing. One that’s properly outfitted, with a desk, a comfortable chair, a filing cabinet, storage for books and supplies, good light, everything one would need.
I have never sat, or worked, in any of them.
When I got to the part, in the book I’m writing, where my mom died I couldn’t write at home. It took me about six months of making no headway on that particular chapter to figure it out: I was unconsciously avoiding re-living her death. It was too quiet, too still in my apartment, it was too intense being alone confronting the memories and the emotions.
Once I relocated to a nearby cafe it took just three days for me to write the entire chapter. Even though I was totally lost in my own thoughts, and unaware of anything going on around me, I guess the activity and shared space allowed me to detach enough to deal with it.
The apartment I’ve been living in for the last six years has the best office of all. It’s a large, bright room, with a complete wall of windows, another of bookcases and another where all my supplies are stored neatly away. Everything I could possibly need or want, within arm’s reach. Cannot work in there. Not once did I even sit at the desk. I feel too isolated.
There’s a Starbucks down the street and that’s become my office. At least it was until a couple of years ago, when I got there one morning to find no room anywhere. I bought a coffee and lurked, hoping someone would vacate their seat. No such luck, even when they were sitting there with empty cups in front of them. Grrrrr.
Anyway, after hanging around for about 15 minutes with no spot opening up I had no choice but to leave. I’d finished my coffee. I was on a deadline, so like it or not, I was going to have to work at home. Knowing my office didn’t do it for me, I sat down at the dining room table.
What do you know? The words started to flow and in no time at all I was so absorbed in what I was doing I didn’t know, or care, where I was. So now I can work from home, just not from my office.
But here’s the interesting part. I can’t just sit anywhere at the table. I have to sit facing into my living room, with the windows on my left hand side. How do I know this? Because one time, one of my cats was sitting in my favourite spot and, rather than disturb the little darling, I chose another seat. The opposite chair to the one I usually sit on, facing the wall.
Could not write a word. Around the table I went, trying the rest of the chairs (and views). Even facing the window didn’t work. It’s that one spot or nothing.
Maybe what I really need is a therapist.
Where’s your favourite spot to write?