By Louise Ure
My work space is a room with a view. A smallish room, only eight feet square, it’s tucked onto the back of the house like a cliffside bird’s nest and faces out to the Golden Gate Bridge. I look over a cascade of rooftops to the water and the Marin Headlands to the north.
Many of the houses are painted shades of yellow — from buttercream to Tweety bird — an effort, I think, to defy the incessant grays of the fog.
What I can’t convey to you in these photos is the sound, the low rhythmic call of the fog horn, then enough time to take a deep breath and the answering single note of the responding fog horn on the far side of the bridge.
And the clock. How can a clock so small make so much noise, as the second hand moves determinedly around? Those are the only sounds I hear, unless it’s high tide and then the sound of the waves add an undernote that sounds like faraway traffic.
My space is tidy but not organized. I prefer piles of things to an empty desktop, but could not work if there were papers, notebooks and Post-It notes scattered helter-skelter around me.
There are many things I love about this space: the dragonfly-patterned Tiffany lamp, the aircraft carrier-sized new iMac and, perhaps most importantly, the desk itself.
When I decided to turn this small room into my writing space, I couldn’t find any furniture that fit my needs. There are deep windows on three sides of the room and two doors on the fourth wall, leaving no easy arrangement of furniture or shelving. I sit, surrounded by windows like the last soldier left to guard the lighthouse.
Then I met Paul, a musician and guitar maker, who took me up on a dare: craft me a desk that can sing like a musical instrument. He did. He shaved and sanded the pale yellow oak until it gleamed. Then he inlaid strips of ebony along the edges, made drawer pulls out of chunks of turquoise, and added teardrops of abalone to mark the corners. It is a thing of beauty.
I would feel foolish telling you my process for writing as I’m so distant from those days that they feel like bedtime stories I remember being told as a child. I stumbled into writing as a way to keep my mind active in retirement and as such an accidental writer I have no tips, organizational tricks or creative advice for others. It’s all legerdemain as far as I’m concerned. Trickery with the hands and the mind.
The good part about writing being magical is that, just as a magician can make something disappear, his real trick is being able to make it come back — life-sized and solid on the stage.
I’m waiting for the magic.