In Spring 2020, like many other middle-class American knowledge worker types, I created a make-shift, “temporary” Work From Home station in my living room. I moved my writing desk, my computer and, it turns out, the creative part of my psyche upstairs so I could spend the 8+ hour work days in better light and the company of my family. It served well for 20 months and got me safely through the worst of the dislocation.
In that time, I worked well and read a lot but did not write much. I told myself it was the stress of everything that kept me from writing – the pandemic, abrupt changes to social and family structures, the eruption of long overdue social reckonings, an actual attempted coup on daytime television, my daughter being a teenager. Too many things to process. Systemic overwhelm. Except writing is usually how I deal with overwhelm, how I process the world and my place in it.
Stress is not a reason to stop writing. Stress is a reason to write.
I was finding it hard to write in the space where I also worked. It was also hard to write in the part of the house where so much of life happens — you know, the “living” room. Interestingly, it was also more difficult to write in the light.
Now, I have returned to the basement. I have carried my desk, computer and all my scattered accoutrements back downstairs. I am inviting the creative part of my psyche, the part that likes to make things, to follow me down here.
For creative work I prefer darkness, much like plants prefer to press roots into fertile, black loam. For creative work I prefer distance, a small sense of apartness from whatever else is happening in the house. For creative work, I need to step down the stairs, which feels like an act of intention, physically stepping down into the unknown spaces of my psyche, my wilder unruly mind.
And so, I am returning myself to see what happens. To refind my seat. To reclaim writing as a thing I do in times of stress and uncertainty. Because the times are always uncertain. The conditions always impossible. The effort always slightly absurd.
I am back in the basement.