During the Covid pandemic, when my husband began working from home, my writing desk, for handwriting cards, letters and my daily journal became his temporary work space. This desk space was the better option to setting up in the spare bedroom, in which, quite frankly there was no room. As it turned out, he works with no less than three monitors, a scanner, a printer and needs a good internet connection. After a couple of weeks, the makeshift additions of cupboards for the additional computer screens and printer proved nonviable. My office for my computer work became his, and my writing desk for hand writing, once again became mine, now with my laptop added to it.
My husband felt somewhat guilty taking over my prime writing space. Subsequently, and in an effort to appease, my writing room was renamed the Home Office; a joint one. Only in name, though, not in practice. The perfect desk for spreading my projects – whether photography, family history or note books of a story line and characters, became the simulation of his workplace desktop, with perfect spacing for all three monitors, a speedier network and so on.
It is, perhaps, rather obvious, that the advantage of having my husband at home was hard to find. I had spent several years working from a cramped desktop and was thrilled to create my spacious workstation. Now, I was back to square one. However, an advantage slowly emerged. My reading room – essentially a lounge room in a traditional 80’s home – would become my new office. My new writing space. Huh! Exactly what I’d originally planned for that room! I’d need patience though, for some reshuffling would be needed.
While I wait for the room to be enclosed; the piano to be relocated to my daughter’s home and a few sundry items of furniture to be juggled so I can fit my writing desk in, I am back to where I began. My desk for hand writing is, once again, my writing home.
It seems I cannot escape certain things, as though they are meant to be. This desk has character and history. It was my grandfather’s desk, from the 1900’s. It is handmade, a little tired, filled with pigeon holes for tucking away items, a slightly tricky drawer, and a cupboard. The fold down top is a bit wonky with age, and I broke and re-glued one of the decorative corners on the top years ago, when moving it between rooms. It is solid wood and despite its bumps and bruises, quite sturdy. Somehow, my grandfather’s energies are present. He has become accustomed to this electronic device sitting on the fold down lid, tapping out stories, poetry, inspirational thoughts, blog posts and so on. I also think he is bemused, after many years of his spirit telling me so, about the internet. That it is a weird and wonderful source of inspiration, beyond imagination. I believe he is with me, gently prodding me into writing. Nothing else achieves this. Perhaps this is meant to be.
When it was possible for my husband to return to his work site, it became apparent the current set up at home would remain in place for several months, as he would complete his work part time in the work place and part time at home. It meant the Home Office was here to stay!
As a result, I tossed to the winds my hangover, that writing is my life! It is an interest. Along with photography and sewing. All three vie for my time. I now more readily accept that, the writer mentality that is ever-present, as so many will attest – that one ‘should be’ writing; or ‘should be’ researching; or ‘should be’ doing only that which is writing related, is gone. I am free to follow my heart.
I still write, of course; however, I am guilt free in giving time to my sewing and I enjoy my granddaughter’s request to make her another dress (I think she has her quota for the time being, though!). I also indulge the sudden urge to stop on road trips and take yet another photo of our stunning natural environment; and later, further indulge time in post processing them. This interest deserves much more time.
Writing spaces in my childhood
When I was a teen, I needed space to complete my homework. My mother gave me a desk, very similar to the one I currently use. I guess that style of desk has shaped my comfort zone for writing. It has remained in mother’s home over the years for her use. Eventually I will acquire it and it will find its new home in my reading/writing/lounge room. It may become my preferred desk, or simply an addition to the above. Who knows! On this desk I wrote compositions for school, read them to my grandmother and parents, and felt the smiles and words of encouragement to keep writing. That is largely why I write today.
Wrapping my mind around it all
I am content with what I have.
I don’t need my huge, wrap around desk in the Home Office. I’m content taking my laptop from space to space and using it ‘wherever’. When my husband was home a lot of the time, I did little writing. Not because he was here, rather, because the whole pandemic issue was so tangible in spirit, it withered my writing creativity to an occasional burst, here and there, in any one of several writing spots, producing a meagre word count.
As I contemplate re-furnishing my future office space, I surprised a neighbour when I declared myself a minimalist in my thinking. Adding, not in practice, though, made ready sense and I received a cheery smile of acknowledgement. Clutter bug is my nature, (check out that messy bookcase above), an inherited trait, passed down the line. Perhaps, one day I will have my white French provincial furniture, rather than my eclectic collection of English oak, Aussie ‘whatever’ and Asian teak, and feel lighter, brighter and breezier in my thinking.
Sewing is easier. It’s always had a designated room, with a white sewing table, a separate cutting table and three walls of shelves filled to overflowing with fabric and haberdashery, some from last century! (A topic, for another day.)
As for photography, that is essentially an on the move interest. One day, I may need a bigger desktop for easier post processing. That bridge will be crossed at the time.
Where do I write now?
(a) In the ‘between’ seasons, Autumn and Spring, I happily sit under the back patio , gazing across the hills, dreaming my time away, or in the garden alcove tucked away from the world.
(b) The dining room table is used at times, especially when no-one else is home. It is near the fireplace into which I dreamily gaze, grateful that my husband threw a fresh log onto it before he left for work.
(c) I’ve tried writing in bed, with my laptop poised precariously, my muscles complaining and my mind being distracted by the juggling act! So, unlike some authors, I do not write in bed, nor do not write in my pj’s.
Future writing spaces
An advantage of eventually moving into the front room will be the numerous writing prompts in front of me. Cabinets filled with family memorabilia will be the subjects of object biographies, about which I learnt to write, in my Diploma of Family History, studied through UTAS.
Argh! some say.
Great, says family. You’re the only one who knows their history!
It is my duty. A begrudging one, in many ways, to write the family history. I’d rather travel. However, while that is on the back burner, this is an excellent opportunity to simply get on with it!
Writing spaces and a husband
In summary, the overall advantage of having my husband work from home, ‘stealing’ my prime writing and photo processing space are several –
(i) I needed to rethink my priorities, and to make guilt-free space for each in my life.
(ii) I can write anywhere. Sometimes, in the past, the day became long, and I’d seek out a coffee shop. Now the silence of home is bliss, and as I have company sooner in the day than I used to, with my husband returning home early afternoon for his second shift, I make the best of my quiet time.
(iii) Sometimes work-related teleconferences invade my open area work spaces. When I need to, I disappear into my quiet sewing space, (a spare bedroom,) close the door and busy myself with my current project, content with my music on in the back ground.
(iv) When I desire time out from writing, or household chores, or anything at all, I wander around my own back yard or to the nearby bush reserve and take photos. Or I go on a road trip into the country, now that regional bans are thing of the past, and allow time for taking photos along the way, sharing some of them through my inspirational posts on Instagram.
(v) These adjustments are a taste of what is to come. Retirement. My husband and I are already used to being in the same space a lot of the time. It is rather nice having someone around during the day. We have learnt, at a deeper level, to give each other space for our individual projects.
In short, I continue to write almost anywhere I can plonk my laptop. I guess I always will. So long as there is soothing background music or the blissful silence of the bush, together with a cup of tea, too much coffee or a winter’s cup of soup accompanying me.
When the time is right I might invest in a desktop screen: I will need to rethink my spaces all over again!