As part of an interview with Cage Dunn, the question/statement came up, and this is the response:
Describe your desk
Where did it go? A pile of paper here, folders, clipboards, pens, pencils, two – no, three Garfield stickers, coffee (it’s tea really, but I like to think of it as coffee).
I’m sure it’s brown under there, but it hasn’t seen the light of day for a while, so who knows?
And my glasses – where did they get to? Shrug. They’ll turn up one day. Maybe. Do I have a spare?
My desk is my little escape pod, my life away from life. It has all the things I need to survive for the day (day equals 0700 to 1400 hours, because after that it’s too bright and the sun shines right on the screen – and I will not close the blinds!).
I have the coffee/tea/water to keep the machine operational. There are two boxes piled on top of the camel chair which contain the things I need to draw ideas out – crayons, chalk, pencils, water-colours, etc. and some blank-page books. That’s a critical element of my desk, even though it’s not on my desk. There’s the small and low table that’s right next to and partially under my desk, and on that are the bits of scribbles to do with each story in it’s unique section of the cycle – oh, you don’t know about the cycle? Want to? Okay, the Cycle: I work on a piece, get it to a certain stage, number and version it, then put it into a folder in the order of the number I give it (I can cheat, so if it’s really exciting, it can go closer to the top). And it stays in bed until I get to the point in the current WIP (that’s Work in Progress) where I need to break the head-space away for a while (jammed or unproductive). So it comes out again, gets some work done, maybe a few scenes, or even a whole Act, or maybe even some research and notes. Then it goes back and I can return to the current WIP refreshed, clean in mind and spirit.
Now, my desk! The small table (it was a coffee-table once, but it has a new life now as keeper of the story-cycle). Anyway – the desk itself. I’m sure it was brown once, and maybe it was even a kitchen table once. Not now. Now it is butter yellow (in patches) where the stain is worn away, it has a board hanging off the side (the small story-board) and the nasty but necessary multiple-pronged thing to stick electric plugs into (the one that stops the computer frying in the case of … the things that happen to electricity supply in Adelaide, Australia).
There’s the phone of course (but I don’t answer it during the work-time, so there’s no volume to it), there’s the screen cleaning cloth, there’s the four pairs of glasses (the usual distance glasses, the multi-focals, the screen glasses and the reading glasses – does that say I’m old, or is this the norm these days?). There are printouts of the BS (Beat Sheet) for the current WIP, sometimes the follow-up CofE (Chain of Events) page that lays out each Action for the Act I’m working on, and a few pens, pencils and rulers (yes, to make noise!).
Oh, the lamp! No, don’t have one. There’s a window, and enough light to work (even in Winter, except for maybe the first hour) from the natural light. Why? Because it costs less to use the daylight than it does to use electricity. I need to earn more money before I can be profligate with power – and even then, I think we have become habituated to using more than we need, so I would still use the window for light. I’m a morning person, so I work in the morning.
My desk has four legs, so I can lean on it, push it away in horror, disgust, or fear. It can balance me when I need it, and it holds my most important tool steady – the keyboard. Why not the screen? Because, when the story is hot, I can close my eyes and dance the words of story out there without even seeing it on screen – it’s all clearly visible (not in words) in my head! Who needs a screen for that?
Anyway, that’s my desk, and you may note there’s no printer. That’s because I placed it on someone else’s desk so it wouldn’t take up the space I need to make my own mess.
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