September 20th, 2006

Mask

Why I Am In The Basement

I moved my computer to the basement so I could get some goddamned work done. I’ve been rereading Virgina Wolfe’s A Room of Ones Own. Reading her essay, along with Toni Morrison's, On the Creative Process, convinced me that I need to stop screwing around and make a space where I can get some serious shit done. I need practical solutions to my artistic problems, a place with a door, a new camera, a comfortable chair, so I can get some work done.

For years, I’ve done most of my writing in public spaces, in the living room, on a bus, in a park. Everything I’ve put down has been in the company of other people. Somehow I managed to engineer my life to the point where every space in my life was shared space, my desk was shared space, my room was shared space, my computer was shared space, no space was mine alone, there was no door in the house that I could close and work without interruption.

When I finally put this all together in my mind, that I was cleaning on nights that I had been out to school till nine at night, that I was working in a place where people were walking though and talking to me, it became obvious that my struggle to improve my work was a grinding uphill battle. It was depressing.  

I had to set some rules, not just for other people, but for myself. I wouldn’t clean on nights when I had class and I moved my computer to the basement, to a small room where I could be alone. I would make the time to write for myself and make that time holy, let the people around me know how important this was to me. On Monday, I took the day off from work and just wrote. The process was smoother than it’s been in months, it poured and it felt brilliant. I felt such a sense of relief at the ease of this process when I had this space to myself.

I think many people know the experience of wanting to create something, having the idea, but being frustrated by the process of putting the abstracts into a form. This let me take what was in my head; all tied up in there, and set it loose. I wrote stories, I wrote essays, but most importantly for me was the flow. This was exactly what Virginia and Toni were writing about, creating practical solutions to problems of the abstract. How do you create something beautiful? As it turns out, a roof over your head and a comfortable chair are a better start than I imagined.