Friday, December 11, 2009

setting matters: a writing question

When Mr. D and I built our house, we didn't build a "study" or "computer room," the logic being that our kids will best navigate the internet and avoid online dangers if the computer is in a central location. Also, our kids do homework at the dining room table while I prepare dinner--this means I'm at their beck and call for support. The desk area we built into the kitchen plan was intended to be Central Station--and with three kids and the accompanying paperwork from school and our various activities as a family, it has indeed become just that.

The above is my desk--but also the family's desk. Cub Scout handbook, the boys' Awana books and Bibles, coupons, schedules, permission slips, incoming and outgoing paperwork and mail, phone, messages, party invitations, school projects and assignments--it all is dumped on this space measuring 4 feet by 2 feet--and up the wall. I'm great with how the space is used. The trouble is this: my family has crowded me out.

As a writer I often have manuscripts that need editing, lists of characters, plot points hastily scribbled onto pieces of paper, rejection letters, tips on writing markets/opportunities and other important stuff that takes up space. In the current set up I have NO space for essential tools like a thesaurus and dictionary. I'm cramped and crowded with no room to lay out my projects--and if I do, I have to gather it all back together and stash it away before Team Testosterone comes through the door by 3:00 every afternoon to command the space for their own needs once more.
I need my own space. A room of one's own, so to speak. I want an armoire desk where I can hook up the family laptop when I want to write and I can use that armoire to stash all my necessary writing supplies, clearing out Central Station a little while allowing My things to sit undisturbed. The perfect spot would be in my library--there's a spot along a wall between two windows that let in awesome light and a great view of the front garden. My dictionary and thesaurus are already located there--as are most of my books so reference work would be literally within arm's reach. The room was built for reflection and intellectual pursuit, setting my writing in the library makes perfect sense.

To find such a piece of furniture is the work of one afternoon--we have several used furniture shops in the area, no doubt one would sell exactly the piece I desire. But what would I do with this?

That, friends, is a gorgous piano in need of repair and tuning. But I love it--irrationally and passionately--like I love Neil Patrick Harris (Secret Gay Boyfriend). This monster takes up the whole wall and there's no other reasonable spot in the house for it. Keeping the piano is impractical and pointless. Replacing it with an armoire desk makes perfect sense. The trouble is, no one else wants this beautiful piano. It's worthless. It's heavy. Realistically, it is garbage and should be disposed of and I haven't the heart.

So what's a girl to do? I can't keep hacking it out in this tiny spot where my family squeezes me out a litte more every year. The library is where my writing belongs. Do I settle for a tiny, ladylike desk and "make do" because anything will be better than the status quo--or do I shove that behemoth piano out the front door and down the slope to the fire pit and stake my claim in a grand and meaningful way?

Reader: Which setting shall I aspire to write in?



  1. You, my fine friend, need the bigger desk and it would be perfect for your library. Why don't you have the same craftsman who made the bookshelves, make the desk unit?

    Now for the piano... I don't think I would just toss it aside. I would put it lovingly in the garage next to Mr. D's sports car.

  2. Ditch the piano and get the largest desk you can. You NEED your writing space!

    We planned our house with a self-contained study. The study already has three built-in work stations and now we're trying to figure out how to add a fourth.

  3. Green Girl -- that piano looks like the piano I just acquired from my grandmother. Is it a player piano? It looks like I can see the pedals to pump the piano rolls. Before you get rid of that piano, you might want to have it appraised.
    Even though my piano needs a tuning badly also, I have many, many piano rolls that mostly just get used when company comes over. It's a novelty for kids and they love it. Not to mention it keeps them busy so the adults can chat.
    Stay warm!
    Colleen in KY

  4. If you want to make sure the piano goes to a good home, use the freecycle sites -- someone will want it, if only because they think they can get it tuned and sell it. They take it away and you know someone will eventually use it.

    I've always wanted something like a library table -- and I ended up with a small dining room table from IKEA. Two of them put together fit into our smallish office, Hubby uses one and I use the other. The key for me is some space to spread things out.. and someplace to put things away when I need to change projects.

  5. Well, I love the piano. I've always wanted a piano. So I say KEEP the piano and go with the smaller table. I like the look of the smaller table anyway. ;)

  6. a)The setrting in picture #2 has no place for your legs to go as you work...I think that might get on your black-belt nerves after a while.

    b) please don't trash your piano! Maybe call around to some music stores - stores that sell pianos or musical instruments - and see if they are willing to take it on consignment or something...if they agree, they can pick it up and save you the trouble of hauling it anywhere...

    c) in the interum: may I suggest getting a larger bulletin-board?

    * : D

  7. Well, you caught me when I'm in a frenzy of getting rid of useless stuff, so I say get rid of the piano. Life is not a dress rehearsal.

    I've had great luck with freecycle. It's a yahoo group. Usually the minute you post something good (like furniture) it's gone.

    Good luck.

  8. I 3rd Freecyle and the bigger desk. :)

  9. I love the nice clean look of that small one, but not sure how realistic that would be with a laptop and your work on it. The bigger one probably makes more sense....but I don't always make sensible decisions! I would have a hard time getting rid of the piano though.... :)

  10. I would totally go with #1, but it sounds like you really want #2. I'm not a writer, though, but I do understand the need for space for things like camera, scanner, various cords, and other sundry items that are indispensable but that I cannot even name or categorize. Get the larger one.

  11. If you opt for #2, and cannot find a loving home for the piano, I can say on good authority that it will burn with frightening ferocity and speed. After our neighbors brought their un-tunable piano for campfire fuel, I was terrified of our own piano for years (tinder! hundred-yr-old varnish!!) But it was an amazing and memorable sight! -mnr

  12. Of COURSE the big desk is for you. Have you tried putting the piano up on Freecycle or Craigslist?

  13. I'm personally a craigslist kind of shopper...I'm on our local freecycle, but all I see is crap or get super annoyed with every stinking request being for something useless and whiney (sorry I'm grumpy tonight!). There's always a ton of armoire desks on craigslist...and if you sell your piano, you could possible end up not "paying" for the desk ;) as far as getting rid of the beloved piano, you have to decide what helps grow your dreams...pretty things to look at or a space of your own .

  14. Check with the school's music director. They may know the perfect donation option for you. Donation for taxes, someone will use the piano and helping kids in your area ... winning combo.
    We have two large office areas and they are still not large enough. What's in the basement? Remodel?

  15. I have a little desk with a fold-down front and pigeonholes, and pretty inlay. It was my grandmother's. Too small, but it CLOSES UP which makes it nice and private for me. It was in my bedroom, and when I ship it here I'm not sure where it'll be. In the bedroom is okay, because you can close the door.

    Idea: get a clever person to turn the piano into a desk? Quirky, no?

    Sad news: flooding in Trinidad, and our upright piano which Sean's uncle was keeping for us (we were worried that the rainforest bugs would claim it at our house) was flooded. Four feet in muddy water. We must move on and say goodbye, and maybe so must you?

    You do need a space for writing. If it were me, and no-one was playing the piano, I'd pass it on to someone who would use it.

    And buy a really great chair while you're at it, for your back!

  16. Since I have an irrational love of pianos as aesthetic objects--and that one is gorgeous I would go for the corner desk--or even a nice big chair with a side table for your books. I hold my laptop in my lap most of the time.

  17. What if you hired a skilled craftsman to modify the piano and turn it into a desk? I don't know if it's even possible but you never know.

  18. Big, big desk...mine is a table, deep and wide. Can't wait to see what you decide.

  19. I so wish I lived closer to you. I have wanted an old, out of tune piano for some time and I even have a place for it.

    Go with the bigger desk, you won't be sorry.

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  21. I like the second desk pictured because it's much bigger than the corner desk. And I hate to say it, but you gotta lose the piano :-(

    You do so much work and really deserve a great place to write- At least that's my vote.

    I'm heading out of town for the week and won't have Internet access. I'll catch up with you when I get back.


  22. I like the colonial look of the first desk (and the leg space, so necessary for comfort) but would go with a larger version.

    Good luck with the piano decision - if no one really plays it, just imagine how nice it will be to give that piano away to someone who does and who is just waiting for that one nudge towards playing again by getting something like that in the house! (Or, alternatively, someone who is a piano restorer and needs his next project ;-).

  23. I too am in possession of a piano that no one has sat down to play in YEARS! Yet I just can't seem to consider getting rid of it!

  24. The mister and I each have separate armoire desks while the kids have to utilize the kitchen table. His? Is all full of his work stuff, music stuff, and assorted Kid Art. Mine? Is suspiciously similar to the area described in your kitchen, but I do not have to share it with the kiddies.

    Still. That's a grand dame of a piano. I don't know that I could part with her.

  25. You have 60 acres? Just build an addition so you can have a massive bookshelves, desks, files, etc. :)


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