On Monday, my office passed final inspection. HOORAY! The cabinets still have to be finished, and the internet isn’t up and running, but yesterday my desk got moved over, so it’s all happening. (As they say in Almost Famous. I also love, “Does anyone remember laughter?” and “Your looks have become a problem!” Oh, don’t get me started on quoting from that movie, I will go on all day.) I have to say, though, even though I am way excited, it’s also a little daunting. The last book I wrote in my actual office was Lock and Key: Along For the Ride, and what I’m working on now, have all been done in either my daughter’s room, while she slept downstairs, or our guest room. Glamourous, yes? It’s like when we moved to this house from our old Durham farmhouse rental, where I wrote in a back room with brown carpet and wood paneling that resembled a cave. And I still had to write facing a wall so I wouldn’t get distracted. Then we come here, where I have windows and this big airy space, and I was convinced I’d never get anything done. But I did.
That’s the thing. Writing is a job you can do anywhere. Sure, it’s nice to have all your creature comforts, and I think most authors have their superstitions and habits, ranging from working a certain time of day, every day (guilty) to what kind of music they listen to, or what they eat while they’re writing. But if the last couple of years, and books, have taught me anything, it’s that really, I don’t need anything other than my laptop and time. The rest is just gravy. Nice gravy, but gravy. So even though it may be daunting to take my show on the road (or across the breezeway and up the stairs) I know eventually I will adjust. Although I might have to face the wall for awhile first.
Now that I’m starting to pack up, I’m realizing how much stuff I have accumulated in my office since we moved in here ten or so years ago. LOTS of books, mostly. Now, I know a lot of people consider books to be decor, and the more you have, the better. But I’m a big believer in passing books along to other people. If I like a book, I’ll usually pass it around to my friends and family and then donate it to the library. But if I LOVE a book, I’ll keep it and put it on my office shelf. It’s like the best of the class, or something. Going through them this morning, you can see what I mean: lots of Anne Tyler, John Irving (three copies of A Prayer for Owen Meany, my favorite book ever) my personalized copies of novels by Lee Smith, Doris Betts and Jill McCorkle. I also have signed copies from Pat Conroy and Dave Eggers. Nice, right? Plus some of my favorite books about writing—Bird by Bird, What If, On Writing—and ones that were given to me as gifts that have personal meaning. In all, they only fill about one big bookshelf, which isn’t much, I know. Then I have a smaller shelf of my own novels. It’s not rooms and rooms worth of books, like the house I grew up in. But they are all mine.
Okay, I have to go pack up some more boxes. The hardest part, I swear? Not getting all caught up in the nostalgia, looking at every single thing as I pack it. I found a bunch of How to Deal lipglosses yesterday and got all misty! I am such a sap. Honestly.