Welcome to another installment of TNBBC's Where Writers Write!
Not wanting to manipulate the moods of houseguests, John Ashbery left the walls of his house bare. The white walls of my home office aren’t the result of a calculated decision. I’m a lifelong renter and forever fearful that an unfilled nail mark will forfeit my security deposit. Besides, what would go up? I’m aged out of being inspired, and I’m certainly not keen on staring at photos of the people whose histories I’m digging through for adaptable material.
So, until recently, I sat on a white, swivel chair at a white desk, writing longhand onto white printing paper, vacant white walls surrounding me, no images or tchotchkes to lift me up or tie me down. Quarantine came, and my wife, several hours into turning my office into a coworking space, judged the whiteness of the room’s setup to be too dreary and uninspiring. Moving the desk away from the wall and turning it to face the balcony door, she forced a flood of sunlight into my work area.
Not much has changed with my practice since this alteration except that I’m now often tempted to take my pages and coffee to the patio table outside, where a skyline of cranes and newly built residential towers that mostly obscure the rolling hills in the distance, more often than not, end up swinging my mood and unsticking me. Now I’m on zoom more often promoting my book, so we put a bookcase in the room that can act as a background. As I move away from an all-white working existence, I’m learning that a little mood manipulation is not always a bad thing.