It's the new black.
Philip Roth works in a shed. David McCullough works in a (albeit well-decorated) shed. I respect one writer, adore the other; now I, too, work in a shed, though I prefer cave.
Last week I returned to our shed flush with the victory of my first bike ride in years. Putting the bike away, I noticed a piece of gorgeous wood sitting idly in the corner. Thankful for me (I haven’t finished my carpentry certificate yet), the wood had been already made into a rather beautiful drop-leaf table. It sat, waiting.
Flush, as I mentioned, with victory, the rather Promethean idea hit me on the head: instead of stealing fire from the gods, or in this case working in a rather awful grocery store café with 60-cent bagels, why not create my own writing space here? In the shed? Not a space – a writing cave.
A few days later, I received official permission to rezone the shed and began to clear out our accumulated five years’ worth of large bits and bob designed to make suburban life more complicated. I waded through the dusty ivy growing in our garage and bathing in cobwebs to find a seat cushion. I nicked a lamp from my bedroom, moved our bikes to one corner and awkwardly repositioned the lawnmower (the first time I had ever touched a lawnmower, I believe; my repositioning skills are about on par with my three-point-turn skills, so not so much.)
Some few moments of wood polish, notebooks, pens, Sharpies, Jane Austen House placemat, wicker chair and drop-leaf-extended later, I had a writing cave. Lookeethar.
There’s something about the idea of a cave that connotes not car insurance but early monastics, dwelling in hidden terrestrial pockets to listen for the word of God. Early monastics make me think of Augustine, who was not really a cave-dwelling monastic but more of an urbane personality; and Augustine connotes work and discipline and general world influence. It’s also Plato’s cave, of course, the one out of which we crawl – or do we? It’s the same cave the unmarried Marcus Mumford wrote about, where “I’ll know my name as it’s called again”; it’s the same place where bats lie in wait for spelunkers, those who search for new life in the sweat of rocks.
I rather like this idea. The trick, of course, is to write, and to that end I have posted a small notice. “No Phone. No Internet. No Exceptions.” Caves are not made for Wifi. – Gabrielle