A Workspace Of One's Own

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2017-10-19 12:00:00 No comments

Philip Pullman (His Dark Materials et al.) apparently has some ritual sorcery associated with his writing routine:

Arranged on [his] desk are various objects of mystical significance. “I write more easily, more comfortably, with less anxiety if I’ve got my various magic bits on the table,” he said. The magic bits consist of a piece of scientific apparatus used in the search for dark matter, a magnifying glass and his “special pen.” Pullman has three special pens — Montblanc ballpoints — one in his study, one in his bag and one on the table downstairs for letter writing and signing books that people bring to his door (“which sometimes happens”). There is special paper, too: “I started ‘His Dark Materials’ on the sort of paper you could get 30 years ago, A4, narrow-lined, with two holes. Then they started making paper with four holes, and I discovered I couldn’t write on that.” He acknowledged with a brief apologetic glance the lunacy of this statement.

Most writers, and most creative types in general, have some degree of personal mysticism or fetishism (not in the erotic sense) associated with their work. That inspired me to look around and take some notes about what I cling to and insist on in this workspace:

  • I need to have a certain kind of task chair — a drafting stool with a foot ring, so I can sit up as straight as possible.
  • The keyboard needs to be a mechanical one, with good solid keyswitches on it, because I learned to type on a Remington manual and I beat keyboards to death without thinking about it. I used to get by with those flimsy little rubber-dome jobs, but once I picked up my first Das Keyboard, I decided I didn't need to compromise anymore. I'm now using a Logitech G413 Carbon (thank you, Eric), and I love the hell out of it.
  • The monitor is on an adjustable armature, so that I can look either straight ahead or slightly down when I type.

My surrounding workspace has little in it and I prefer to keep it that way. That said, I have a shelf to the left and some desk space to the right that contain a few books I keep handy for random inspiration, e.g.:

  • Coffin: The Art Of Vampire Hunter D, Yoshitaka Amano
  • Silence, John Cage
  • Man Against Myth, Barrows Dunham
  • Why I Write, George Orwell
  • The Zen Teachings Of Huang Po, tr. John Blofeld

I still keep The Elements Of Style, 4th Edition nearby, but I find I pull it out less often than I used to. Either I'm internalizing its advice, or moving past it. You choose.

I'm fond of putting together playlists for various works I've finished ("you've read the book, here's the soundtrack!"), but I have a hard time listening to such music when actually writing, as it gets distracting. Generally I go with some deep ambient music or nothing at all.

My favorite font for composing and publishing is Constantina.

I should note: A part of me is dead certain none of this has the slightest effect on the quality or volume of my work, but everyone needs A Room Of One's Own, and a workspace within that room.

Tags: creativity writers writing