I’ve got something on an entrepreneurial idea for making a WORKSPACE. A place that is ideal for getting work done, individually, as a writer. Not a coffee shop, not a co-working place with rented desks. Not a place to hang-out, not a place to chat with your website designer. A place to write.
Pursuant of that, I told Jen Schlueter about my idea and we talked around it a bit.
MS: What was your favorite place to write?
JS: It was in the basement of my house in Belfountaine. It was a shitty basement, it was not finished. But that’s where I wrote the vast majority of my dissertation because it was the place where I was most isolated and there was nothing else in there but the work. And that was really good for me with that particular project.
But the placed where I enjoyed writing the most – There was this beach house that I used to rent when we lived in Eugene. It was this cheap little salt box. It was not a good beach house; it was a crap hole. But it had a good view and it was quiet.
MS: That’s where you fantasize about going to write?
JS: Yeah, when I imagine my fantasy writer’s colony. But the truth is, I got way more done in my terrible basement.
MS: With the standing water?
JS: What about you?
MS: When I think of my favorite… It’s very interesting that you divide it like that, because I had only thought of my favorite. The one I fantasize about trying to recreate was at Miami University of Ohio. Because I was taking grad level courses, I got a graduate student carrel. It was just a very small room on the third floor. No one ever even walked by the door, it was so tucked away. But it had a desk, and it had a window. And you could close the door. And it was sound-proof enough that I could play a little music.
It’s just like you said. There was utterly nothing in it but the work. I could take books from the library, not check them out, just take them in the room and leave them there. So every time you walked into the room, you were right where you left off.
JS: I personally really like a static space that won’t change between when I leave and when I get back. And I don’t have that now in my daily life.
MS: Me neither. I actually rearranged my entire office last night in an attempt to make that happen. Because you work for four hours, and then life happens, and then you come back to work, and you think “I’ve gotta clean this up before I can write anything.”
JS: I need a space that isn’t where students come see me or where life happens. I need a space that is only the project’s space, and I don’t have to move the projects around.
MS: Right. Wouldn’t it be great if each project had its own room?
JS: When I’m a billionaire, that’s what I’ll do in my mansion.
MS: My workroom is now much more crowded, because I took out a bookshelf and put it in the basement. And I brought in a table that’s a little too big for the room. So now I have the place where the laptop can sit and the other computer’s in the corner and the room looks awful.
JS: I think if the surroundings are too lovely, I can’t focus. It’s good for my soul, but it’s not actually good for my work.
I bet I could get a ton done if I could rent a room in the Limited Brands building. It would not be a fun room, but it would be a productive room to be in.
MS: If you could leave your stuff there. Cause all we’re trying to do is just get away from everyone and everything else.
I’m thinking now – What is the best place to get work done that I’ve ever been in?
I might say a coffee shop. Generally, if a coffee shop was open, that’s pretty darn good. There’s a little buzz of activity.
JS: I’m a little bit better, if there are people around, with not getting off-task. Somehow, being in a room where work is happening – I do more work.
MS: Someone told me once, about loneliness… That when you’re not around people, the irk of loneliness makes you want to leave. So at least, at the coffee shop, that’s cured.
JS: That’s totally true. Even though I want to be alone most of the time. I want alone with other people.
MS: Alone together. Yeah. Though I’m not sure that’s where I get the most work done. Sometimes I’ll go the office at the downtown Riffe building – which I hate, – at 11 o’clock at night, for three hours, and I’ll get a shitload done. That’s part of the problem, too. I’m a night owl, and that’s when I get my best work done, and right now I don’t have place to do it.
JS: That’s it entirely. I’m trying to force myself to become a morning person, because the universe does not tolerate night owls, unless you make some really distinct choices with your life, and I just can’t.
MS: I don’t know about you, but it’s really hard for me, when I’m home for a few hours, and Acacia is there, and Beckett is there.
MS: I want to spend time with them.
JS: of course. Because that’s what it is to be a good human. The other thing if I’m working in a really deep way, even at my own desk, is that then I have to stop work, and begin something else, and that decompression time – I’d be better off if I had a bike ride between work and the next thing instead of just turning to the next thing. Because you have all the work energy, and you have to shift. But I need something to help me shift. I gotta get out of my house, it’s not good.
MS: A bike ride away is always perfect, it’s true.