My writing space needed a change. The glass tops of my L-shaped desk were covered in dust and cigarette ash. The monitor and laptop appeared out of place. Not to mention the bevy of wires: USB cords, an auxiliary cable for my external speakers, and the digital output line connected to the external monitor. How can anyone work under such conditions? Political writers in Russian gulags had it better than this. I mapped out the new design in my head and gave myself a little Saturday morning project. Later, I had to write. Had to do it: my fiancee was at work and I wanted to make good use of the free time.
The word “project”Â is dangerous for a tech junkie. As I stared at the desk, and contemplated what to do first, an idea crossed my mind. I needed a new keyboard. A wireless keyboard. I could slip and somehow find the keyboard wire wrapped around my neck. Maybe I’d accidentally stab it with my ballpoint pen, electrocuting myself to death (or into a slight coma). I had two other errands to run, so a quick trip to Best Buy made sense—I had to pass it, anyway.
I entered the store and, within minutes, found the all-important, must-have, necessary-to-write-or-die keyboard. An aside: I bought the Apple wireless keyboard. Between my apartment and Best Buy, I concluded that I also needed matching aesthetics. What if Toni Morrison visited my apartment? Or Walter Mosely? Or—my God—Junot Diaz? I don’t want Diaz talking shit about my mismatch equipment. “Ciao, you got a Logitech keyboard for your Macbook and Magic Mouse? WTF?”Â
I returned home two hours later (don’t ask) and got to work. I shut down the laptop, disconnected the perilous wires and wiped down all three sections of the desk. I moved the monitor, laptop and lamp, which created a nice spot for my iPad—for referencing notes. I reached for a tote, to sock away extra cords, when I found buried treasure (resting atop the tote).
Three years ago, my father tried to use Apple’s Airport Express router as a wireless bridge for his printer. No dice. I couldn’t get it to work for him, either. I mean, it worked because the lone amber light blinked when the router was plugged in. So I asked to have it, thinking one day the mystery would be solved. Project winding down, I picked up the router and decided to give it one more try.
After some tinkering, the amber light turned green and—success!—the new network I didn’t need was created. I added my fiancee’s laptop and our wireless printer to the network. I leaned back in my creaky chair, proud that I solved an non-existent problem. I looked over my new arrangement and started to light a cigarette, until I realized that, three hours later, I still hadn’t installed my new keyboard and I still hadn’t begun to write. WTF?
My fiancee called. “I’m on my way home.”Â
I started to rush and, somehow, I meandered into the bedroom, hanging up my work clothes from the previous day. I didn’t want Diaz to call me a slob, either. Twenty minutes later, I noticed crud on the coffee table, so I wiped that down, too. Ten minutes later, after I moved some files and other papers to the closet, I walked my dog. Ten minutes later, I was back inside, back in the chair, wireless keyboard unwrapped and in hand. And my fiancee walked in.
There’s a difference between “I want to write”Â and “I want to want to write.”Â The former will turbo boost over ravines and tire fires to get home, to get the words down; the latter will observe the ravine and, along the way, start a tire fire. Indeed, I wanted to write. It haunted me all week. At one point, I snapped at co-workers and pouted all day because I wanted to write, proclaiming that I didn’t have the time. I sat at my desk (the one where I actually get paid to work) and daydreamed about characters and plot lines, including column ideas and the possibility of a novel. When I finally had the time, I spent it getting my space just right, igniting needless tire fires along the way.
It is now midnight. I’m wide awake; coffee surges through my nervous system. I’m adjusting to the smaller wireless keyboard, although I now feel a little safer. My desk is rearranged per my wishes. There’s a newness to it; the words fly from my fingertips and I feel at ease, as if I’m sipping lemonade on the porch I built with my own hands. In one way, I’m vindicated. But I recognize the absolute craving “wanting to write”Â generates; its a moment of clarity that blots out the peripheral noise, creating a beeline between myself and the words. That it took me seventeen hours to get here shouldn’t bother me. I mean, after all, I’m writing. And yet–