One of those volumes is in my agent’s hands. Another is in scraps on my regular desk, back in my office. Several more are in published form, shelved on the bookcases found there. These are painted white and stand floor to ceiling against walls done in a soft, warm color named goat’s beard.
A goat appears in one of my works. That’s nothing I could have predicted. It’s a charged scene, with that goat serving as both dinner and as loss, a stand-in for a destiny reduced to smoke and ash.
To tell that scene required considerable effort, none of which could show. I wanted the reader to take it in, but not be held up by it. I wanted him to shake off a chill perhaps, but not stop to think about it, because he’s in too much of a hurry to see what comes next. That’s exactly where I want my reader: wanting more.
To write a scene like that—one that can speak on many levels, from dinner to destiny, but which foremost entertains—is not the work of idle writing. It requires, among other things, fortitude and careful calculation.
My office is not the place, of late, to find either. There’s too much going on, too many directions, too much conversation, too much. What chance to clear a head with all this noise?
And so, I’ve left it behind and moved to a more hospitable region of the house. Today you will find me—or preferably not, as I work alone—in the kitchen. Fortunately, at the rather early hour I like to write, I have the space to myself.
Everyone needs a place to think, to plan, to compose a simple sentence that advances the cause. And one needs to be able to linger there, as well, as these things take time.
Where is that place? I wonder if the answer is the same across the globe. Should I take a pencil and a photographer and find out? Already, I can picture an array of kitchen tables, from the sandy earth to the polished oak of the English manor, populated, in the off hours especially, by women in their robes who need to think.
Photo credit: Amanda Woodward