Space is precious: the expanses of breath around us and between us, the places we hold sacred, the space we take up and that others afford us. Among defined physical spaces – a room, a church, a clearing – the ones we treat with the most hushed reverence are either endowed with a specific, bold purpose or exist free from any expectation. Creative spaces are both – they’re intended explicitly for making things happen: collisions, new growth, reflection, refinement, but also need to be approached without too many obligations. Without that formula? Nothing happens.
When I’m navigating the daily responsibilities of my life – dodging, pivoting, prioritizing – any space I can carve out for creative work feels like a tiny miracle. If I am awarded a space to be creative, I am grateful. Whether there for a week or an hour, I make myself at home. I move into it. I move in it. I take ownership. I make it sacred, make it safe, but give myself permission to expand into every inch, to squeeze out the time spent there until its last second. In other words, I get comfortable. Then I work.
I always take a picture or two, to capture the feeling of possibility and keep it with me as a reminder when I’m stuck. Taken as a set, these images ground me, bring me joy, award me a sense of legitimacy when I’m seized by doubt: “Where the hell is this going?”, “Where did it begin?”, “I don’t even remember why I started this.”
When in doubt, I retrace my steps. The pictures help.
These are a few of my favorite work spaces from recent (and not so recent) years. Steeped in stillness or pummeled by ambient noise, squinting at shadows or flashes of bright sun, I wrote play scripts, essays, poetry, and volumes upon volumes of speculative, expository blather. The physical spaces held me and underpinned every word with layers of dust, piles of leaves, curious artifacts, and the inevitable thrum of humanity nearby, whether on the other side of a wall or a wide, wild field.
The spaces range from industrial rooms with little light and the least ergonomic seat-to-writing-table setups imaginable, to expansive outdoor spaces with luxurious vistas and unexpected dogs. However a work space may appear in pictures, it is never nondescript and always precious, because for the time I am there it is mine, and I never quite feel I deserve it.
Something to work on.