October 19, 2010

Workspace Brainstorming, Part 1

For years I dreamed of having the sort of massive oak slab that would dominate a room . . . In 1981, I got the one I wanted and placed it in the middle of a spacious, skylighted study . . . For six years I sat behind that desk either drunk or wrecked out of my mind, like a ship's captain in charge of a voyage to nowhere.
A year or two after I sobered up, I got rid of that monstrosity and put it in a living-room suite where it had been . . . I got another desk - it's handmade, beautiful, and half the size of the T.rex desk. I put it at the far west end of the office, in a corner under the eave . . .
 [P]ut your desk in a corner, and every time you sit down to write, remind yourself why it isn't in the middle of the room. Life isn't a support-system for art. It's the other way around. - Stephen King, On Writing

I have chronic shoulder and back issues left over from an injury I sustained in college. Currently, I'm taking a yoga class designed for people with such issues, and it's helping a lot. Last week, I was talking with my teacher about my work space, and it came to my attention that it's contributing to these issues. My writing room functions as a second bedroom (so my husband and I can bring other partners home to stay the night and the other person will still have a space to sleep). I don't like desks. I write from that bed, or sometimes on the floor, or if I need a change of pace, on the couch in the living room. I only use desks/tables and chairs if I work at the library or a coffee shop, and I feel uncomfortable the entire time. The space is also disorganized and cluttered. But my yoga teacher outlined all the ways in which my bed/floor/couch habits, not to mention my tiny netbook that lacks a decent-sized screen or ergonomic keyboard, are just aggravating long-term issues. So the time has come for me to seriously think about a desk, an ergonomic chair, and (when I can afford it), a computer less likely to cause problems.

Ever since my teacher made me promise to work towards the goal of a healthier work space, I've had King's quotation in my mind. It doesn't have anything to do with carpal tunnel or middle-back problems, but it's also something I feel I need to keep in mind as I alter my space. There needs to be a sense of humility about it. I need a desk and a chair that will be good for my body, but don't need to spend hundreds of dollars on sexy, shiny, high-end models. I need something simple, functional, loveable. I need to make space for it, but not make the space revolve around it.

Just random meanderings as I begin my journey into a better work life.
 

1 comment:

Hannah Stephenson said...

I just love this Stephen King quote--I hadn't seen it before. Thanks for sharing it!!

A workspace is important, but not a shrine, like you've said. My laptop has freed me quite a bit in writing (although I'm very dependent on the actual laptop itself--hmm...). But it was great to get a little desk set up, truthfully (best 25 dollar Craigslist purchase!!).

Hope you find a good surface and solution for your back troubles.