Friday, October 23, 2020

The room where it happens

It's small, but it's mine

I've written a lot of places. Sometimes it feels like I've written everywhere. Coffee shops. The backseats of cars. Motel lobbies. Poolside cabanas. The middle seats of airplanes. Pop-up campers. Busy teachers' lounges. Cramped little corners of lakeside cabins. Once I even wrote in an old train station that had been turned into a swanky mall (Denverites will know where I'm talking about).

But my favorite place to write has always been home. And now that many of us have been forced to spend a lot more time at home, I thought it would be fun to share my little space.

Fifteen years ago my wife and I lived in a wooded area outside Colorado Springs called Black Forest. Hundred year-old ponderosas grew for miles in every direction, and my office was in one corner of our house, with windows looking out at those ponderosas on two sides.

It was gorgeous. But it wasn't necessarily the best place to write. The natural beauty that surrounded me was a distraction in itself, and I often caught myself staring at a mule deer munching grass along the edge of our driveway or one of the area's unique squirrels with their tufted ears and jet black fur instead of writing.

Which is why the office I have now may just be the best place I've ever written.

My wife and I bought the house in 2017 when we first moved to Arizona. The office itself is a cozy little room with an exterior door and windows on either side of that door. This allows me to get my daily allotment of sunshine so I don't feel like a mushroom on those marathon days when I'm scribbling away for hours in order to meet some crazy deadline. But the office looks out on a simple courtyard--a relaxing sight to be sure, but not one that's going to distract me.

Not the world's most scenic view, but it works for me

Because of the COVID crisis, and the economy, and the fact that apartments in the Phoenix area are way more expensive than they should be, both of our daughters have moved back in with us. As have their adorable but very opinionated dogs. So these days it often feels like our house is bursting at the seams.

And that leads me to the other great advantage of my office. It's situated at one end of our house, directly opposite the activity center at the other end, so even with the TV blasting and everyone talking and the dogs in full woof, I can barely hear a thing.

Like most writers, I used to write at a desk. But when we moved into the house I discovered that the office was smaller than I remembered and the desk was bigger than I remembered and there was no way I was ever going to fit it inside the office unless I set it on its end.

So I got rid of it. Now I do my writing in a leather recliner, and I would never go back. With a laptop, who needs a desk anyway?

Who says you have to hunch 
over a desk when you write?

My office is a place dedicated to reading and writing, with a bookcase in one corner and cast photos and newspaper clippings from some of my shows on the walls. But my favorite spot is the top of the file cabinet, for that's where I display some of the mementos that directors of my plays have been so generous to share with me. 

Look at the photo below, and you'll see the knife from The Butler Did It!, the KUKU sign from The Last Radio Show, the sarcophagus lock from How I Met Your Mummy and the diamond-studded cat collar from The Purrfect Crime.

And the puffin? Well, I could say it's my favorite animal, and that would not be wrong. I could say it inspires me to write about exotic creatures and far off places, and that would also not be wrong. But the real truth is that it was one of our daughters' Beanie Babies when they were younger and I couldn't bear to part with it after they grew up.

So yeah, writing is important. But it's not everything. 

A few mementos from my shows