Full disclosure: this year’s quarantine situation (which was kinda awesome in my country, placing us on the map for the first time in years for something other than being a popular Game of Thrones filming location) is the first time I’ve ever had the privilege of working from home.
Yes, I’m calling it a privilege. Our household consists of a cat and a dog who like and/or tolerate each other even on the bad days, and two adults who are pretty fond of each other (luckily—even on the bad days!). I can have quiet when I need it, and I can socialize to my heart’s content. There are also a lot of doors in our home, and as the month dragged on, I’ve discovered they play an important part in our everyday life, too. (Doors are awesome. Even when you’re an extrovert.)
What our home didn’t have, up until a few weeks ago, was a working, ummm, work desk. And then there was, you know, 2020. (Oh, we know. It’ll be rather hard to forget.)
What I’m basically saying is that I’ve written almost three full novels (or at least what passes as full for a person as bent on keeping things short and concise as me) on our couch. And the other couch before that (the one basically double my age). Sure, occasionally the dining table might’ve been cosplay- and general sewing-free for a few days at a time in the past few years, especially in winter, but… no desk.
When we started redesigning the place (I can’t really say renovating because we’re still missing quite a few wall outlets and, you know, actually insulated windows), I did start thinking—well, since our household isn’t really big on family dining, preferring to get our meals’ crumbs on the couch and/or coffee table while we’re watching something on a screen (like most of our generations, anyway), what’s to stop us (me) from reworking the dining room into an actual office space? The only thing I needed (apart getting the ‘heirloom’ couch out of the building and into the fire) was to—you guessed it—buy a desk.
And then quarantine happened. I was unable to access our handy unpaid labor force (my dad) due to social distancing, so the grumpy old couch’s still here, and we’ve put a full stop on all big purchases until this year resolved itself, anyway.
Oh, all big purchases, that is—apart from puzzles. Cardboard jigsaw puzzles. The kind you take out of a box, play around for a few days (if you’re slower like me) on the—wait for it—biggest flat surface in your home unobstructed by pets and/or, khumm, sewing related paraphernalia. (No worries, I’ve managed to throw in a few face masks under the machine before I discovered online puzzle ordering and delivery this season.)
Because, apparently, jigsaw puzzles are exactly what my mind needs these days—probably because they’re distinctly non-verbal and overly optimistic at the very same time. (I did read, a lot, in the beginning. For some reason or another, the whole streaming thing didn’t catch during this crisis. I seemed to crave narrative free content, though, most of all. It just might’ve saved my emotional health this spring. Just sayin’.)
The only issue with puzzles, apart from the aforementioned pet free flat surfaces, which is basically impossible to achieve when you share your space with a scheming, climbing bastard of a cat, is that they really do need a lot of natural light to be enjoyed properly.
Yes. This is the story of how I accidentally built a working desk in my dining room not because wanted to finish the Third Werewolf Novel or start working on the second Johnny’s Girls (no can do, sorry, the contagion anguish is way too high in this one), or because I needed it for actual paid work (I used a single patch of unencumbered kitchen counter space for that), but because I wanted to distinguish between my sky and sea puzzle pieces better and with greater ease in natural light.
Oh, and have a breathtaking view through the window while I’m doing it. (That’s one of the reasons the ‘Game of Thrones set’ narrative works wonders for Croatia—the sights really are as cute as advertised. Which I might be currently doing. Goodness knows all of us tourism-heavy places are going to need all the exposure we can get in the next few years.)
Here’s the fun part—a two parter, actually—the very same ‘desk’, which I’m currently writing at (after having retired today’s puzzle and its thick cardboard base for the night elsewhere) is just an old piece of shelving which my father once bought too much of while doing one project or another, stuck between an even older chair which is blessedly the exact same height I need and the bottom of a window. It was a feat of luck and simple physics at the same time. And, weirdly enough, it sits at almost the exact same spot where I thought I would place the brand new, corner friendly monstrosity which, sadly, had to remain back at the store for the time being.
I think I actually might prefer this, extreme-DIY version better. The cat loves it, and the dog sunbathes really close to it in daytime, so that’s and added bonus.
Oh, and you know, free.
The only real problem with the whole deskbuilding adventure is the tiny, insignificant detail that I’ve just, basically, ridden myself of the last true excuse I had for not writing something, anything, during quarantine. Oh, I have written (and will continue to write) assorted articles. I have written editorial suggestions regarding short stories to people I’ve never met and who were more than kind to include my input into their revisions. (A story for another night.) Yup, you’ve read it right – even after writing all those thousands of words sat down on a couch, this curious little brain of mine decided that not having an actual work desk was, apparently, a good enough reason to avoid writing fiction altogether after the first and only two stories I have written, very early into the current state of the world.
So, now I have *the desk*. And I am using it. And I’m quite certain we shall go on many merry fiction building adventures together.
Just, you know, not yet. Because a desk—even one with a view—cannot make one forget about everything else going on right now.
But hey, puzzles. Hopefully, in time, even words.
The stupid desk is not getting anywhere, right?