I envy people with offices. Lawyers especially, because they’re surrounded by books. Thick tomes full of laws and precedents and tragedies and spines with golden letters. Offices have an inherent respectability lending a feeling of solemn purpose to one’s endeavor. If you’re a writer, hoping for a quiet space to write when the world and its messy exigencies and blisters and blobs and children and fracases burst in on you at any moment, an office would be ideal.
Or would it? Would the sobriety of rigid corners and thick oak desks and long shiny conference tables inhibit the impulses of creativity?
There is something in the atmosphere of an office that imposes a need to conform, be polite, courteous, deferential, efficient. Creativity is the opposite of these. Creativity has nothing to do with efficiency. Or courtesy or obedience or tractability or acquiescence. Creativity arouses defiance, transport, ecstasy, fire, and subversive energies. There is always an element of destruction, of contrariness, of going against the grain. Friction, heat, angst, and selfish, riotous abandon.
Writing requires a space that is outside the framework of time and its daily responsibilities. The Protestant work ethic, Lutheran sobriety, robotic, insect compliance. You can’t be a drone and an eccentric at the same time. Eccentric means, literally, you are outside the circle. On your own. A selfish jerk. Self-indulgent. Willful. Defiant. An insufferable prima donna. And probably poor and struggling to make the rent.
Writing requires a space that is primarily mental. It has less to do with the physical dimension of walls and ceilings and more to do with how you feel. What are you capable of dreaming? Cooking up in that skull of yours? It helps to be a Prospero. A magician creating havoc and storms. An outcast with an impressive library and a head full of ganglions bursting with ideas.
It’s difficult finding that level of sensitivity. It requires an abundant amount of idleness. Space for reverie. Drugs can help, but they’re more likely to create problems. Drugs are expensive and ultimately catch up with you and fuck with your health and sense of well-being. But you can learn to think like a drug. Don’t take heroin: be heroin. Don’t eat peyote buttons: be a peyote button.
It’s really just a matter of allowing your self space to be. Being, in and of itself, is creative. Being is subversive. Hamlet was right on with his question about to be or not to be. That’s what it comes down to. Every time. To be or not to be. That really is the question.