Tuesday, May 18, 2010

My Secret Laboratory

I usually try to post on Mondays, but frankly I was too tired from my paltry weekend attempt at landscaping to do so. It’s all kind of a blur to me now, but I do recall that my Sunday involved a lot of digging and shoveling and pushing a wheel barrow around. The yard looks virtually the same, so I have no idea what I accomplished. And now I have calluses on my tender, writerly hands.

I also didn’t post because I had to do some manuscript revisions, and revisions require total concentration.  I find doing revisions to be like rearranging the third layer of a house of cards. So to pull this off, I needed to go and work somewhere where there would be no distractions. And that meant going to the library, which isn’t an ideal place to work.

Why is the library not ideal? Well, for one thing, I can’t bring my barrel of Diet Coke in there on a dolly. Also, there’s the snoring. Every time I work there, some guy parks himself nearby and falls asleep at his desk. Like, dude, if I want to hear snoring, I’ve got a husband at home who will provide me hours of it.

I know what you're thinking. Why not a cafe or a Starbucks? No, no, no. I can't work at a coffee place, especially Starbucks. I find all Starbucks employees to be so obviously and ambiently bored and superior that it rubs off on me, and I become super, extremely snarky as a result. Also, I don’t drink coffee, and there are only so many croissants one can order before one’s thighs literally begin to swell before one’s eyes. And really, hanging out for hours at cafes working on a laptop? Seems like a 2004 sort of activity, don’t you think?

My search for a perfect place to work yesterday left me wondering why, in this great nation of ours, is there nothing like a public work bunker? There should be. There should be a chain of work bunkers all over America where they have no Wi-fi, no windows, and no cell phone coverage. Each work carrel would have two-foot thick walls made of concrete. It would be sort of like a sensory deprivation tank without the water and epsom salts. Oh, and they chain you by your ankle to the desk you’ve rented. The lock only releases when your time has expired.

Clearly what I need is a secret laboratory (that’s la-BOOR-a-toree). Just your regular secret laboratory that you access by moving a book ever so slightly on the top of a nearby shelf, and then twist the sconce on the wall above the fireplace. Voila! The bookcase would slide over, revealing a set of dark, twisting steps that would take me down into the bowels of the earth. There I would sit in total isolation in my form-fitting latex suit, writing and brooding and plotting ways to avenge my parents’ murder. 

Oh, and the other important thing would have to be that no matter how long I was in my secret laboratory, when I emerged, only minutes would have passed, and no one would have missed me. This time warp capability is important because otherwise I’d need some sort of Alfred the butler to cover for me when I was in there. Having a butler is a complete pain in terms of social security taxes and health care and so on.

You know what? Now that I’m thinking about it, why shouldn’t I have a costume? A writer costume. What would that be exactly? Oh! I've got it. A bathrobe and a pair of sweatpants. Now don't look at me like that. These would be really nice sweat pants. In fact, let’s throw some sequins on them. And maybe some of them Swarovski crystals on my desk chair as well. Although not on the seat cushion because that would be annoying and itchy.

Actually, you know what, forget the sequins and the crystals. I don’t need any distractions of any kind. And shiny things will definitely distract me. Might be better to have everything be brown and grey, and just light it all with a weak, guttering gas lamp. Dickensian. Yes! That’s what I need. My secret laboratory office would be a small, bleak, below-ground cell.

OK, I think I’ve basically just described a 19th-century prison for criminally insane moles.

Obviously I have a certain vision of what the writing life is all about that may differ from yours. If you have an idea for the perfect office setting, please share. Although I must request that you not taunt me with visions of sweeping vistas or sunshine. Bright lights hurt my eyes, even imaginary ones.