This weekend I told Kara that I really need an office — a place where I can close the door every now and then, and dig in. I need a place where, when I'm sitting there at a desk, face lit by my MacBook, cats shooed away, it's time to work by God! That's the place. That sweet spot. When I sit down at that desk, it's work time. It's like a mental trigger, telling me it's time to get going and get more words on the page.
We have a big house. There are plenty of rooms I could make into an office space, and at one time I did have an office in a bedroom where my mother now lives. It was a big space, and there was plenty I could do in there. But it never felt quite "right" as an office. I always felt like I was outside of the action, too far removed from life in that room. Too isolated. The same is true for the other bedrooms.
Besides, Kara wanted rooms for guests, for kids that might come along, for actual bedrooms. I want that too. So it was a shame to use any of those for an office — and I didn't particularly want to "compromise" and have an office/guest room. The first time I couldn't go in there and work on a book because someone was sleeping in there, it'd be over. I'd get all cranky pants.
A few months ago, Kara and I decided to try something with our dining table. We moved it from the dining room, which was a fairly isolated spot in the house, to our breakfast area, which was at the heart of it all. We'd seen this in a model home, and it was so cool we knew we had to do it. And that has worked out great — we love having it there. We use it all the time now, whereas for about three years we only used it maybe four times, for holiday dinners or out of some obstinate sense of "we will use this space."
Moving the table out left a void in that dining room space. We filled that void with a game room, which conveniently connected to a living room space — a sort of "formal living room" — just off the front entry. We thought this was great, because whenever the nieces and nephews were over they could play in that space. And we could, too, if we ever wanted to use the Wii or the Playstation or whatever.
But here's the thing — Kara and I aren't really "gamers." So we didn't spend any time in that game room. The nieces and nephews aren't over that much, and when they are they don't want to be in a room on the far end of the house while the grownups are laughing and cutting up in a room at the other end. So the game room went unused for months, too.
When I brought up the office idea, I was mostly thinking we'd have to clear one of the bedrooms. Suck it up and make that a permanent space. Home-sweet-author's-home. I wasn't actually looking forward to it, because, as I say, being locked in a bedroom feels so isolated.
I can't remember which of us thought of the game room, but it was probably Kara. Wouldn't it make a perfect office? A sort of study, connected to the kitchen with doors that close, open to the "library," and beyond that to the front entry. Viscerally connected to the rest of the house, allowing me to hear life going on all around me, without having to be interrupted by it. A couple of windows that give me just enough of a view to make me feel writerly and humany at the same time. Honestly, it was perfect!
So we spent time on Saturday shuffling things around. At the moment, the space is kind of sparse, needs some paint and artwork, needs a rug. There's a lot to be done. But for two days now I've sat in that space, in the early hours of the morning, in the wee hours of the night, whenever I could find the time. And I've written. And I've loved it.
Sometimes you have to look at things from a different perspective, and answers come. I've now used that space more in two days than we had used it in the past several months. And over the next week I'll spend more time in there than we've spent over the past four years. It's finally a part of our home, and not just another chunk of space off in the corner.
I can't wait to see the wonders that come out of there.