Ronald Kidd - March 11, 2022
A Place to Write

I’ve been writing at the dining table.

My office, shown here, is where I wrote for years. Tucked away at the far end of the house, past our bedroom, it’s quiet and private. Books line the walls, along with family photos, my father’s boyhood sketch of Notre Dame Cathedral, and a Hank Virgona painting of a stubby pencil, the most pencil pencil you can imagine. Windows frame our backyard, and the early morning sunlight stretches across the floor. In many ways it’s the perfect office. But for the past few years I’ve been writing at the dining table.

In our house, we don’t eat in the dining room. We eat in the kitchen. When guests come over, we add a leaf to the kitchen table, turn it at an angle, and mill around, visiting while Yvonne cooks. So, what do we do in the dining room? Mostly we pass through, because you cross it to get to the kitchen, den, living room, and bedrooms. It’s in the middle of our house, the center of my world, and it makes me feel good to work there.

The most beautiful writing place I’ve seen was in Bergen, Norway, at the home of composer Edvard Grieg. He built a small hut for writing, made of native wood. In an alcove at the center is a handmade desk in front of a window that overlooks Nordås Lake.

Possibly the least attractive writing place was the office of author and screenwriter William Goldman. It was cramped and virtually windowless, with just a small table and typewriter. The only view was of a corkboard wall covered with notes, articles, and ideas. Goldman always said the space was purposely ugly, so he wouldn’t be distracted from his work.

As for my own writing place, the important thing isn’t the view or lack of it. It’s the feeling. I wrote in the office when I needed space apart from my family, and I moved to the dining table when I wanted space inside it.

Recently I’ve spent a few days working in the office. It's where I’m writing this piece. I like it here. To my left is a wall, like Goldman’s but not as ugly. To my right is a view, like Grieg’s but not as beautiful.

I’m not sure why I moved or what it means or whether it will last. I just keep writing.

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