Sense Of Place #5

Kurt Andersen
Place: Kurt’s home office, Brooklyn, New York

When I was young I mostly wrote in places without any real privacy—an old-fashioned newsroom, a half-open hallway, downtown loft workspaces, a small apartment. I tuned out the other people, as one does. And every office space provided by employers over the years, whether grand and wood-paneled or standard-issue monochrome cubicle, I’ve kept un-personalized, devoid of artwork, knick-knacks, family pictures—not on principle, at least not conscious principle, but rather because those places felt (and inevitably were) temporary.

Not long before I started writing fiction for several hours every morning, my wife and I moved into a house in Brooklyn, with a spare room that could and did become my dedicated workspace. There’s a chicken-and-egg question here: did having my own room to write enable me finally to produce novels (the freedom of an inviolate trance venue? the pressure to make good on the precious New York real estate allocation and produce?) or did switching from mostly short non-fiction to mostly long fiction require that I occupy a little fortress, a space just for me? All of the above, I think.

In any case, for me writing well and at length now requires walled-off, closed-door privacy as much as it does a computer. I would much sooner have door-free bathrooms than a door-free writing space.