For years, I've imagined a coffee table book with images of authors' desks and studios.
One Redroom author wrote a few weeks ago that her desk is piled high with papers and too unsightly to be photographed. I said, "I'd like to see it." She replied, "You first." My room is relatively neat. Where my feet rest is the spot is I plant my derriere to talk to y'all in Redroom. The Mission style desk against the wall supports my canvases when I paint in oil. The basket holds papers I have no place to file. Too many books for the shelves here and in the garage, so dozens and dozens of books end up on the floor. Those under the Misson style desk are mostly Shakespeare-related.
Below, the bookshelf for art books. My great granddad's photo and Nemo, my white gorilla.
In 1992, I visited Amy Tan in her former San Francisco home. As I was about to descend the stairs to go home, she said, "Wait. Let me show you my writing space." It was a cozy, irregularly shaped room with floor to ceiling bookshelves and a peek of the Golden Gate Bridge. Her mother, Daisy, joined us and pulled down a framed picture of Amy's Dad from a shelf. "See Amy takes after her father. Same crooked smile," she said.
Nearly a decade later, when I was coming out of a period of bad health, Amy came to Carmel with Dave Eggers for an event on child psychology and paid a long visit at my house in Carmel with her Yorkies, Lilliput and Bubbazo. The pair remained in her big cloth bag the entire time without letting out a rustle or a whimper. They were serious (and more responsible-looking than any human I've ever encountered) about comforting and guarding their mistress. After we had lunch, to my surprise, Amy, with child-like curiosity and mischievous smile, requested to see my working space.
I love writing desks and tables. Always have. As a kid in Japan, just learning to read, I'd stack up books and papers, pretending I was a very learned scholar. I have a two hundred years-young Federal style desk upon which my 24-inch iMac rests. I also have two Arts and Crafts period desks for stacking more books and CDs. Then a vast, nondescript office desk my neighbor bequeathed to me, upon which I liberally throw ink and paint. Here I was using a camcorder to make my Youtube video of my graphic novel-in-progress.
I've been posting in Redroom before it went live, and have cherished my near daily tete a tete with Jessica Barksdale Inclan. Jessica, what does your writing space look like? And Ericka Lutz, who appeared in Redroom in January, show us your space, please? I am curious about all Redroom authors and especially those with whom I communicate more frequently: Francoise Renoir, Matthew Biberman, Evie Shockley, Darlene Arden, Thomas Huynh. May we see the sacred (or profane) arena where your imagination and knowledge flow to produce articles, poems and books? Would you mind giving us a peek of your desk or study where you settle your rear ends to sweat and spin magic?
A little cold and damp, I would think.
One of the best writing spaces I've seen of a long dead person is George Washington's Mount Vernon study. Most historical places are dusty and feel--well, like a museum--very remote, but George Washington's room was alive and chockful of implements and leatherbound books. It was as if you could still feel the temperature of his body-warmed recliners.
Causes Belle Yang Supports
826 Valencia Street