Wednesday, September 22, 2010
The Other Room
A fair portion of the books Gerry Boyd sent me have now been shelved. Some are here in my parlor and workspace, and quite a few others are in the spare room where I worked each morning while my mother was still here. I wrote whole books in that room, and other things that have since scattered to the wind as pixel or print. I used to keep a careful record of such things, but in recent years I’ve wearied of the process. Which story was published when and where has gradually become more an archaeological concern, a matter of sediment, tides, and tree rings. Occasionally an old stump will appear after wind and drought have ravaged a particular corner of closet or mind, a shot-riddled road sign, or bleached, gaping skull. On my websites, though, I’m much better organized.
The other room, in fact, now that the books are there and the fall light is spilling in, has gained in appeal and seems to be taking on new life. I go in much more often, and, despite the presence of a bed, it isn’t hard to imagine it as a second workroom. I hesitate to use the word “studio,” and yet what better place to experiment with art in other forms — painting, perhaps, or music. I can also see closing the door behind me and not emerging again until I’ve written a new novel — or until I’m hungry, or needed by someone on the telephone — which, come to think of it, I probably won’t hear ringing.
My current workspace is entirely open. It has a large window and it faces the street. The nearest door is the front door. Anyone can walk in and see what I’m up to. Our grandson is free to roam. By instinct and gentle reminder, he has learned what not to touch. He touches it anyway, of course, but only in fun, and besides, I want him to know the feeling of old books and furniture, typewriter keys, hats, and the knick-knacks my mother collected over the years, including the heavy flat iron her mother once used, and the old Victrola salvaged from the house of a crazy old relative. I’ve seen him in wordless conversation with old photographs — one in particular, of my father and one of his brothers when they were little boys, but others as well, going as far back as his great-great-great grandparents. And as far as I know, they could be in touch somehow.
What makes this room a parlor is that it’s also a place to sit and read and talk. More often than not, though, I am a salon of one, which explains the mumbling.
In the Forum: black and white and read all over.